After a history of healthy competition, two Cairns universities have partnered to promote the Northern Australia region.

James Cook University (JCU) and Central Queensland University (CQUniversity), as well as Charles Darwin University (CDU), have today announced they’ll combine academic and research powers to support the development of the northern end of the country.

Under the newly-signed Northern Australia Universities Alliance (NAUA), the three institutions will share academic and research knowledge, working together on joint funding opportunities and education and training courses.


Key projects will focus on agriculture, regional health, water security, renewable energy, and Indigenous leadership outcomes in the north.

JCU Vice Chancellor Professor Sandra Harding said the new alliance will harness the collective knowledge of all three universities to benefit Northern Australia into the future.

“Our aspiration is to grow and deploy our collective strengths, expertise and presence to develop and retain the skills and capabilities of industry and community across Northern Australia,” Professor Harding said.


As a part of the NAUA, a workforce strategy will be developed to address labour market needs across the north, particularly in health, social services and education. 

Job shortages in agriculture, mining and renewable energy will also be targeted, as well as issues across the environment, disaster resilience, tourism, and digital capabilities. 

CQUniversity Vice Chancellor Professor Nick Klomp said the partnership is a strong example of institutions working together for the future of Northern Australia.

“Northern Australia possesses agricultural, mineral, cultural and environmental riches that are the envy of the rest of the country,” Professor Klomp said.

“It’s time that we put our combined academic and research expertise behind Northern Australia to really supercharge its potential for growth and development.

“We’re confident that Northern Australia will go from strength-to-strength over the coming years as a result of this collaboration.”

All three universities share both the context and operating challenges that are unique to Northern Australia to deliver for these communities for years to come.
Professor Sandra Harding
JCU Vice Chancellor