Abstract For over two decades now, the IOI has conducted an annual intensive training programme, on a global basis comprising 300 classroom hours plus field trips, library research and simulation exercises, for 20–25 mid-career civil servants from developing countries. The programme, one of the oldest, is still being carried out. It is broadly interdisciplinary and holistic. Always led by an outstanding scholar from a developing country, the teaching faculty consists of over 20 lecturers and discussion leaders, partly drawn from the faculty of Dalhousie University, partly from intergovernmental or governmental institutions and the private sector as well as alumni, from all over the world. The programme covers ocean law and governance in the broadest sense and is intended to assist developing countries in the implementation of the whole UNCLOS/UNCED process. Until now the course did not lead to a University degree, even though quite a number of participants went on to obtain a Master's Degree at Dalhousie University. During the last 5 years, the IOI has developed into a unique network of Operational Centres in all parts of the world. All are located at prestigious institutions, each with its own strength—some in law and policy, some in oceanography or fisheries management, some in technology. The IOI is now integrating all these efforts, and the experiences of two decades, into one innovative initiative; the establishment of the IOI Virtual University. Its Master's Degree programme will consist of a number of core courses which can be taken on-line and a number of optional courses, presently available at various IOI Centres and their Host institutions, but gradually to be developed for distance learning.