Divine Word University

About DWU

Divine Word University (DWU) is a National University and a leading tertiary institution in Papua New Guinea. Formerly Divine Word Institute, it was established by an Act of Parliament in 1980 and was established as a University in 1996. DWU It is ecumenical, coeducational and privately governed with government support.

Our vision is to be a National University, open to all, serving society through its quality of research, teaching, learning and community service in a Christian environment. DWU offers its educational services to those interested in improving themselves intellectually and spiritually so they can become responsible citizens and positively contribute to the development of society.  DWU’s philosophy of education is rooted in the Catholic tradition and well articulated in the University Charter.

The University is open to everyone, regardless of race, creed, colour or gender, who shares its vision to serve society through its teaching and research in a Christian environment. Students come from all 20 provinces of Papua New Guinea and abroad. DWU has a special interest to advance opportunities for disadvantaged individual, women and youth to help build the economic and social capacity of the South Pacific Region.

DWU, as a university with Catholic tradition,” is an academic community which, in a rigorous and critical fashion, assists in the protection and advancement of human dignity and cultural heritage through research, teaching and various services offered to the local, national and international communities. It ensures that institutional autonomy is necessary to perform its functions effectively and guarantees its members academic freedom, as long as the rights of the individual person and of the community are preserved within the confines of the truth and the common good. DWU has been and continues to be a catalyst for improvement of higher education in the country. The University is committed to working with the government towards positive development of PNG. As stated in the mission statement, DWU is committed to "continuous dialogue and partnership with all levels of community, business, government and cultures in the life and work of the University;" a mission to which DWU is true.

The University is comprised of five faculties that offer full time and soon-to-be-offered online programs, supported by the Flexible Learning Centre that facilitates the delivery of flexible, part time, and blended learning programs. The five faculties are:


Areas of study have been selected for their long-term benefit to Papua New Guinea and where there is strong industry demand. Students work with industry and business throughout their training and are encouraged to develop and participate in programs that help build community resources and social capital.

Christian ethical values and individual growth are integral to the courses and graduates are trained as competent professionals who will make a personal positive contribution to the growth of a nation.

DWU serves the goals of the nation. Emphasis is placed on work, self-reliance and service. The University is ready to offer special training programs for the country or the Church as needed.

DWU is governed by a Council of no more than 13 members, including the University's President, and is headed by a Chairperson. The Council meets at least three times a year to set policy, monitor performance and ensure objectives are being met.

The main objective of Divine Word University is to become a vibrant Christian intellectual community and to continue developing into a first rate university. The University shares with all institutions of higher education a triple mission:

  • • the acquisition of knowledge, which is the mission of research
  • • the transmission of knowledge, which is the mission of teaching
  • • and the application of knowledge, which is the mission of public service


Divine Word University's search for excellence is guided by its motto “Sic currite ut comprehendatis” – “Run to Win”, not in a ruthless competitive way, but as an honest effort to achieve one's full potential. DWU's philosophy integrates total human development and it is expressed in self-reliance and community service.

With this belief, DWU aims to turn out students equipped with skills required for the national development as well as high-level professionals who will provide Christian leadership for the nation.


Historical Background

Divine Word University (DWU) began in 1958 with two Divine Word Missionaries, Archbishop Adolf Noser and Fr Paul McVinney, wanting to carry on the Society's traditional involvement in tertiary education in areas to which its members were assigned.

In 1964, a 99 year lease was secured on an old rubber plantation and negotiations for funding began with the Government. Failure to secure government assistance for a university project forced the SVD planners into a reassessment of their commitment and led to the development of a Catholic coeducational high school.

Fr Kenneth Feehan, SVD, became the director of the project in 1967. As headmaster for the next 14 years, he shaped the schools development and philosophy. The high school, with an enrolment of almost 600, emphasised academic excellence and self-reliance and consistently ranked in the top 10% of PNG high schools.

The Society undertook a feasibility study in 1977 to look into the possibility of returning to its original idea of tertiary education. The encouraging results of this study led to the phasing out of the high school and the gradual development of a tertiary level University.

In 1979 students began enrolling in four-year diploma programs in Business and Communication under the Divine Word Institute. The first class of pioneer students graduated in 1982.

Early in November 1980, Fr Kenneth Feehan SVD, who had been appointed President of the Institute until the end of 1981; when the High School would finish, asked to be relieved of the office at the end of 1980, so that a permanent president could be appointed. His resignation was accepted and Fr Paul McVinney SVD was named his successor and the second President of Divine Word Institute. Fr Paul McVinney SVD, took office in November 1981 till 1983.

In November of 1983, Fr Kees van der Geest, SVD was appointed as the third President of Divine Word Institute. He was the President till 1992.

In November of 1992, Fr Jurgen Ommerborn, SVD was appointed as the fourth President of Divine Word Institute till November 1995.

On the 13th of November 1995, Fr Jan Czuba, SVD became the fifth President of Divine Word Institute and the founding President of Divine Word University in 1996.

DWU was a recognized partner university in the development of higher education in PNG under National Executive Council (NEC) Decision No: 134/96 of 21st August 1996. It was established by an Act of Parliament as a University in 1999. Divine Word University was recognized as an Agency of Higher Education in Papua New Guinea by the National Executive Council on the 6th of November 2003 (National Executive Council Decision No: 221/2003) and meeting No. 49/2003.