As most of you will know, the UGC met last week (20-24 July 2009) to consider the University’s UGC Submission, undertake consultations with Senior Management, students, staff and other stakeholders, and to finalize their report for the Ministers of Finance.
We were very pleased that the UGC could meet now to ensure that their report could be prepared in time for a meeting of the Ministers of Finance in time for the University to know the level of funding for the next three years before the October Council meeting.
This was the first UGC meeting where half of the USP Member countries were represented by their Permanent Secretaries. It was also the first UGC in which Japan attended alongside Australia and New Zealand, although Japan attended as an Observer to help it decide on accepting full membership.
The UGC provided a debrief to the SMT at the end of their consultations. The Chairman highlighted the following:
- The UGC was very pleased that the University had recognized the difficulties of Member Countries by offering to reduce government contributions by 2 percent. It was pleased with the presentation of the UGC submission itself, without a list of un-prioritized proposals.
- UGC was pleased that the University had made many significant changes, and noted that more changes were planned.
- Despite these changes, the UGC noted that the University retained its cohesion.
- UGC felt that the University was following a sound strategy that would yield important results.
- UGC had visited the Prime Minister of Fiji and Minister of Finance. He had expressed his happiness with the performance of the University, and conveyed his and the Fiji Government’s full support for USP.
- This was also echoed by the Minister of Education.
- The final report of the UGC would be completed by the end of next week and submitted to the Ministers of Finance.
Many members of staff have been anxious about the implications of the announcement of the establishment of the National University of Fiji, and whether this had implications for our funding from Fiji. The feedback both at the Council from the Minister of Education, and re-iterated by both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Education to the UGC, give us re-assurance that our funding for the next three years is not being impacted by national developments in higher education in Fiji.
Professor Rajesh Chandra