Formal education at the regional University of the South Pacific (USP) needs to continue to evolve in order to prepare students from Pacific Island countries (PICs) to meet future challenges as ocean managers. In this article we report on the findings of a scoping survey done with 30 USP students. The survey found high levels of satisfaction among undergraduates admitted directly from high school, but among students who had prior work experience there was less satisfaction. Students highlighted their interest in the ‘applicability’ of learning, and called for a greater emphasis on group learning, face-to-face and practical approaches to learning as opposed to increasingly used online methods. The absence of any mention of using traditional knowledge for marine resource management suggests that further consideration in this area is needed.