Abstract The single most important factor to improve the quality of education in a developing country appears to be increased general and professional education of teachers. Initially, it seems that this may be appropriately addressed in the teachers' colleges. However, the teacher educators themselves, often have received their own education either from the universities of developed countries or from “expert” expatriates at home. Often the result has been an adapted western curriculum being offered in the teachers' colleges, which is inappropriate to the student teachers. As a means of obtaining increased insight into a developing country's context, this study sought to gain some understanding of how Papua New Guinea teacher educators and inservice teachers negotiate their western higher education at the University of Papua New Guinea. This may provide assistance to expatriate educators to provide an educational experience that addresses student learning needs with appropriate process and content.