AUKUS-focused university collaboration agreed

24 March 2023

South Australia's Flinders University has signed agreements with universities in the USA and UK that will enable the Australian university to begin developing the specialist skills needed to underpin the future construction of nuclear submarines under the Australia-United Kingdom-United States (AUKUS) security partnership.

Premier Peter Malinauskas (standing) watches as Flinders University Vice-Chancellor Colin Stirling (left) and Clint Sharrad, interim director of the Dalton Nuclear Institute at the University of Manchester, sign the partnership agreement. (Image: Flinders University)

The separate agreements with the University of Manchester in the UK and the University of Rhode Island in the USA will enable Flinders University to offer undergraduate and postgraduate studies to South Australian students, the university said.

The University of Manchester is the lead university in the UK's Nuclear Technology Education Consortium and has partnered with Flinders University for the Australian delivery of its nuclear masters programmes and doctoral level research training. The partnership agreement with the University of Rhode Island, which has strong ties to the submarine manufacturing industry, will foster collaborative research, explore cooperative educational opportunities and internships, and promote jointly hosted seminars and events.

"These historic new partnerships will bring the world's best nuclear education and research programmes to Adelaide, equipping Flinders graduates with the high-tech skills required to build the SSN-AUKUS submarines," Flinders University President and Vice-Chancellor Colin Stirling said.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese of Australia, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of the UK and President Joe Biden of the USA earlier this month announced the start of the next phase of the project that will ultimately see a new fleet of submarines - known as SSN-AUKUS - built by the UK and Australia. The Australian-built subs will be built in South Australia, with some components made in the UK, and Australia has said it will work over the next decade to build up its submarine industrial base. The first Australian-built submarines are expected to be delivered in the 2040s.

Some 5,500 direct jobs will be created to build the SSN-AUKUS submarines in South Australia when the programme reaches its peak in 20 to 30 years' time, South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas said.

"We've seen in the UK the massive depth and breadth of skills that are going to be required to build the most complex machines in history," he said. "There's no time to waste. We've already agreed to partner with the Commonwealth to deliver a Skills Academy, and an additional 800 university places over the next four years.

"The partnerships between Flinders, Manchester and Rhode Island universities will see hundreds of South Australians beginning to learn the skills required to operate nuclear-powered submarines."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News