The University of the South Pacific (USP) held its second briefing session with the Pacific Island Countries (PICs) diplomats, based in Fiji on 18 November 2016.
Its main purpose was to brief the diplomats on the outcomes of the 83rd USP Council Meeting; progress towards implementation of the USP Strategic Plan (2013-2018); update them on USP’s role in European Development Fund (EDF) 11 Pacific Regional Indicative Programme; Regional ICT Initiative and strengthened CROP ICT Working Group; and to discuss USP’s plans for its 50th Anniversary celebrations and how PICs can be actively engaged in marking this important event.
Diplomats who attended the briefing included Her Excellency Mrs Litia Mawi, Fiji’s Roving Ambassador to the Pacific; H.E. Ms Kim Aroi, Nauru High Commissioner, Nauru High Commission; H.E Mr John Patteson Oti, Solomon Islands High Commissioner; Solomon Islands High Commission; Mr Albon Ishoda, Minister Counsellor / Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of the Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI); Mr Wilson Waguk, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Federated States of Micronesia (FSM); Ms Lorainne Taulima, First Secretary, Tuvalu High Commission; and Mr Vilikesa Naivalucava, Principal Foreign Service Officer, Roving Ambassador to the Pacific Division.
USP was represented by Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President, USP Senior Management Team and Mr Jaindra Karan, Director Development, Marketing, Communications and Alumni including his staff.
Professor Chandra welcomed the Diplomats saying their presence signified a much greater commitment and the bold aspirations of their respective Governments in supporting and working together with USP, towards uplifting the human resource capacity and creating equitable and sustainable development in the region.
“This kind of consultation is very important because while there will be a lot of emphasis on what USP is doing, we want you to suggest on where we might be able to steer the University better or to meet your expectations,” he informed the Diplomats.
The briefing he said, presented a platform for both sides to share the University’s preparations and plans for its 50th Anniversary in 2018 and discuss how PICs can be actively involved in celebrating this important event.
“We are particularly interested in collaborating with you in ensuring that the celebrations are held in regional campuses as well with support from your respective Governments,” Professor Chandra stated.
Professor Chandra acknowledged the work done by the member countries in leveraging USP’s physical presence in the regional campuses.
“We all believe in the Framework for Pacific Regionalism, SAMOA Pathway and Sustainable Development Goals, and on our part, we are ready to work together in a collaborative manner to accelerate implementation of regional and global mandates on important priorities of our region,” he stated.
Professor Chandra updated them on the outcomes of the 83rd Council meeting and regional campus developments includingSolomon Islands, RMI, Nauru, Tuvalu and Tonga campuses.
On quality, Professor Chandra stated that there was a total of 18 programmes internationally accredited and 4 recognised.
“USP is making steady progress with American accreditation through WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) and we have already received eligibility status,” he commented.
Diplomats were informed that USP had come up with two inventions that have received patent registered under the Australian Patents Act. These are the mobile cane for the blind and visually impaired and portable wave solar energy harvesting device.
Professor Chandra reaffirmed how grateful USP is for the sustained and high level of engagement it has with its member countries and for their unwavering financial support.
“We reiterate our commitment to working as closely as possible with you so that what we do fits in very much with what you want,” he said.
Professor Chandra also briefed Diplomats on the Regional ICT Initiative and strengthened CROP ICT Working Group.
“The University is proactively engaging and taking a lead role in participating in dialogue with its member countries and in finding solutions for development issues that are encountered at regional and national levels,” Professor Chandra added.
Mr Karan briefed Diplomats on status of USP’s Strategic Plan 203-2018 implementation and on USP’s role in EDF11 Pacific Regional Indicative Programme.
“The Strategic Plan is now in its fourth year of implementation and while there are indications of notable progress, there are also areas which the University is addressing to ensure full implementation by 2018” he said.
H.E Mawi reaffirmed the Fiji Government’s support for USP as the host country to the university adding that it will do its best to ensure the facilitation of the “continuing effectiveness of USP as the provider of education and the cultivation of humanity to survive the future and in this case, specifically the Pacific’s next generation of students”.
“There is an evolution of things that we are going to adapt to and as an academic institution, USP will lead the way in changing people’s mindsets to ensure that people are well placed to take on the challenges ahead,” H.E Mawi said.
|(From L-R):Ms Litia Mawi, Fiji's Roving Ambassador;
Mr Wilson Waguk, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of FSM;
Mr Albon Ishoda, Minister Counsellor/Deputy Chief of Mission RMI;
H.E Kim Aroi, High Commissioner of Nauru;
H.E Patteson Oti and Ms Lorainne Taulima, First Secretary Tuvalu High Commission
Mr Waguk acknowledged USP for inviting FSM to be a part of the briefing and updated the meeting on their proposed membership of USP, adding that a delegation would be visiting Fiji soon.
“There is a very strong commitment by our Government to push our membership through,” he confirmed.
Mr Ishoda congratulated USP on yet another successful year on the implementation of its Strategic Plan and assured the Government of the Republic of Marshall Islands continued support for the work USP is doing for the region.
“What USP is doing provides a snapshot of what our Pacific region will be in the future. I am encouraged to hear significant activities, improvements and expansions and these are clear indications that the region is calling on USP to provide those,” he said.
Mr Ishoda thanked USP for its guidance to support maritime transport as an academic and research issue that can be clearly transformed into regional and national objectives.
Furthermore he acknowledged Professor Chandra’s leadership and in particular for considering RMI to host the next Council meeting.
H.E Aroi said these briefings are really important so that the Diplomats are aware of what is happening at USP.
“It is very clear that USP is doing really well and we are proud to be part of the University,” H.E Aroi said.
H.E Oti said the Solomon Islands and USP have come a long way in terms of tertiary education in the Solomon Islands.
“Our partnership has been beneficial in terms of an educated tertiary sector. USP has contributed immensely to the development of Solomon Islands,” he added.
With regards to the construction of the new Solomon Islands campus, H.E Oti confirmed that, “we are close to starting the process now having signed the guarantee agreement for the loan”.
This he said was a very important project for Solomon Islands as they hoped for its completion to coincide with celebrations for USP’s 50th Anniversary.
Ms Taulima reaffirmed the Government of Tuvalu’s support in everything USP does for its students and academic programmes.
She acknowledged in particular the Academic and Cultural Orientation Programme for Tertiary Students (ACTS) programme by USP’s Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment for Tuvalu’s students as it has really assisted them to blend well into their studies.
Ms Taulima acknowledged USP for the progress on discussions for the land for a USP Centre in Tuvalu saying they hoped it would materialise soon for the betterment of students. Tuvalu is also looking forward to the appointment of a new director for the Tuvalu Campus.
Professor Chandra concluded the briefing session by reaffirming USP’s commitment to have close communication with its member countries with hopes to continue the same level of engagement.