Defence force education scheme sees first foreign graduate

Published 29 April 2011

okigradThe first week of April was a big week in the life of Domingos Oki, a Lieutenant in the East Timorese Army. He graduated from the University of New England in Armidale on Saturday 2 April, and married his fiancée Sally Belo in Canberra on Saturday 9 April.

Lt Oki (pictured here), who graduated with a Bachelor of Professional Studies degree, is the first officer from a foreign defence force to graduate from UNE through the Junior Officer Professional Education Scheme (JOPES).

The Australian Army introduced the JOPES scheme in 1990 to answer a need for its officers to gain a more rounded education and improve their skills in writing and critical thinking through studying for a university degree. Most participants in the scheme have studied through UNE – a specialist in distance education.

Lt Oki is a graduate of the Royal Military College, Duntroon. He was able to use that qualification as advanced standing for his university degree course, which he completed in three years of part-time study.

“It was hard work under very difficult circumstances,” said Major James Rogers, who recently returned to Australia, and the Sydney-based Regional Education Detachment for NSW of the Australian Army, after three years with the Australian Defence Cooperation Program in Timor-Leste. “Lt Oki’s studies began around the time of the shooting of President Jose Ramos-Horta in 2008, and he had to work 18-hour and 19-hour days. His academic success is a testament to his hard work.”

“It’s been a long journey, and one that started at a difficult time in my country,” Lt Oki said. “It was also quite difficult being the first candidate from Timor-Leste.”

He said he had chosen UNE because of the University’s expertise in distance education. “I’m very proud to have studied here,” he said, adding that he had found all the staff members “very helpful”. His first visit to the UNE campus was on his graduation day.

UNE has been collaborating with the Australian Defence Force for more than 70 years. In renewing its commitment to this partnership, the University has revitalised degree programs that Defence Force personnel have found ideally suited to their needs. The programs lead to the degrees of Bachelor of Organisational Leadership and Bachelor of Training and Development. Both are available only at third-year level, requiring the successful completion of only eight units of study to qualify for either degree. For the recognised prior learning criteria, go to: http://www.une.edu.au/defence.