End of the Year Message - University of the South Pacific
I wish to thank each and every one of you for all your energy and wonderful efforts for a successful 2016. 2017 will bring a new set of challenges and will require renewed efforts as we move closer to the end of the Strategic Plan 2013-2018 and get ready to celebrate the 50th year of the existence of The University of the South Pacific.
I also wish to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a joyous New Year.
Please take care during this festive period.
Professor Rajesh Chandra
Vice-Chancellor and President
The University of the South Pacific
We have come to the closure of the year 2015 and this is the time to reflect on what we have achieved during the year and also acknowledge staff, students and friends of the University who have contributed to its success, yet again.
Major Achievements in 2015
USP is midway through the current Strategic Plan, which is guiding the University in its quest to become an excellent institution that delivers outstanding results for the Pacific Island region.
USP is making very good progress toward its own institutional goals and the outcomes it intends to produce for its member countries. Key achievements were recorded in the areas of financial planning and management, regional campuses, and student support and other priority areas of our Strategic Plan. In fact, the year 2015 saw record enrolments and a university that is notably more focused on quality, equity and accessibility throughout the region than it has ever been.
The most remarkable and visible accomplishment of 2015 is the completion of the new Kiribati Campus, an achievement that will greatly improve USP’s services to a valued member country and increased the accessibility of a USP education to growing numbers of Kiribati students.
This is the first new campus funded under the favourable loan provided by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). A new campus in the Solomon Islands is in the pipeline, and the Republic of Marshall Islands Campus recently acquired building is to be extensively renovated. So USP students throughout the region and the communities in which they live stand to benefit greatly in the next few years. A more modern USP will have a much stronger regional outlook and presence and that’s what we will be celebrating in 2018.
So much of what the University does is building and developing; just as it takes students three to four years to acquire the knowledge expected of a degree holder, so it takes time for USP to negotiate funding models and support, embed new and different management principles, and build and renovate modern facilities.
While many achievements can be quantified or pinned to a particular date, many other signals of progress occur over longer time periods and can be noted differently. USP’s role and profile at key regional meetings and the number of visits and consultations it holds with international partners are indicative, for example, of an institution that is recognised for its quality and is growing in esteem. This international reputation is crucial for USP alumni and for the institution itself if USP is to attain excellence by its 50th anniversary in 2018.
During 2015, we were able to consider our financial goals alongside financial pressures, and to agree on our funding model for the next triennium
Key targets under the seven Priority Areas of Strategic Plan are on track to be met by 2018. There are, however, a number of KPIs that will be very challenging to meet or will not be met. This was revealed by the Mid-Term Review, partially funded by Australia, which was presented to the October meeting of Council. The Review has exposed those KPIs which were based on poor baseline data and has shown how Strategic Plan reporting can be improved.
The University has designed its Strategic Plan management and accountability to allow for adjustments and flexibility, and so it has been possible for the University to re-strategise where necessary and respond to the Strategic Plan Mid-Term Review Report so as to maximise the chances of achieving the 2018 targets.
Finances and Funding
Important Visitors to the University
Learning and Teaching
Governance, Management, Leadership and Continuous Improvement
We look forward to working closely with you all and to continue our relationship and partnership in moving USP from Good to Excellent as we head towards USP’s 50th anniversary in 2018.
I wish you and your families a Merry Christmas and a very productive and healthy New Year.
1. We have come to the conclusion of another successful year and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all staff and students for your contributions during the year. I also wish everyone a very Blessed Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year.
2. At the outset, let me say that USP starts with you – without you, it would not have been possible to come this far. We count on you for the success of USP. Warmest thanks and deep appreciation for all your contributions, efforts and dedication in making USP a success story that it is today. We all acknowledge that we have had our fair share of challenges. However, with trust and faith, respect, and collegiality, we have managed to collectively surmount our problems and move on to greater heights with a great sense of satisfaction.
3. I hope that you will have some time off to spend with families and friends and that the spirit Christmas spirit of love and sharing will prevail. To those of you who are travelling, may you all have a safe and pleasant journey.
4. This year has been very successful for us and I highlight a few key achievements:
· UGC had its Mid-Term Review this year and has applauded the University for successfully implementing much of its bold Strategic Plan, managing the associated risks and in doing so confidently moving the University closer to its aspiration for excellence. At this point in the SP, 30% of the SP tasks should have been completed; the University has completed 34% of the tasks
· Enrolment continued to grow strongly and this year headcounts increased by 7% taking enrolments to 28, 375, compared to 26, 600 last year.
· Finances are strong with better than budget performance. Since 2008, the University has performed better than budget except for last year when an accounting change was made. To put our financial turnaround and performance in perspective since 2008 the University has saved $36 million dollars, added assets of $121 million, and seen aid to the University jump to $51 million from $25 million in 2008. This is a commendable achievement when one considers that the University had a deficit in 2006 and 2007. The University’s financial performance has therefore been very good over this period—and we are determined to keep improving on this performance as part of the culture of continuous improvement.
· Increased the number of publications in ISI-Web of knowledge listed journals compared with 2013.
· Citations of ISI-listed publications by USP staff stand at an average of 8.4 per article, being better than some of our well-funded comparators
· Publications of A and A* articles has increased this year
· Establishment of the Pacific Islands Universities Research Network
· Stronger engagements with our Industry advisory programme committees
Significant achievements in our quality
· Accreditation of our MBA Programme by the Association of MBAs (AMBA)
· Reaccreditation of our BCom Programme by CPA Australia
· Programme Recognition of our LLB Programme by the Australian Law Admissions Consultative Committee (LACC)
· Site visit by WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) to assess our preparedness for American accreditation
The University’s future growth and competitiveness will depend very significantly on differentiating it from other providers and strengthening its branding as the premier provider of higher education in the Pacific region.
· ADB Loan – Building of Kiribati Campus began, Solomon Islands Campus still under discussion; relationship with ADB set for further expansion in 2015
· Our relationship with our host country, Fiji has further strengthened this year. The Hon. Prime Minister opened our 79th Council with a very encouraging speech; Fiji has made a grant of $36.6 for 2015; and we were honoured to receive a visit by Fiji’s Minister for Education, Honourable Dr. Mahendra Reddy, an alumnus of USP and former Head of the School of Economics.
· We thank the Fiji Government for its support for the development of the new Lautoka campus through its grant of 4 acres of land adjoining the existing land.
· Our relationships with member countries have continued to strengthen. We have had very positive feedback from member countries during recent graduation ceremonies. Most recently, the Hon. Prime Minister of Vanuatu, Mr. Joe Natuman, gave his assurance and support for the work of USP when he visited the University this week;
· Other regional countries such as PNG and FSM have indicated their wish to join USP – an indication of the confidence and value that they see in USP;
· RMI Government bought a large hotel to be the new RMI Campus
· APTC TAFE- partnership resulting in the establishment of the Pacific Fusion Kitchen at USP to train Pacific chefs, opened recently by the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hon. Julie Bishop
· Our CVCE has been renamed as the Pacific TAFE to be in line with our strategic objectives on TVET
· Significant improvements in ICT, especially upgrade of MIS and operationalization of a 100mbps fibre connection to Tonga;
· SMT appointments – we started this year with two new VPs who have settled in quite well to their portfolios. Regrettably, some of the SMT will be leaving us soon including EDHR and DVC R&I. We acknowledge their contributions and wish them well. We hope that their experiences at USP have been worthwhile and that they have made some lifelong friends along the way. Our DVC LTSS will join us in January and we hope to have a new Dean of FBE early in the New Year.
· We congratulate Professor Randy Thaman on being made an Emeritus Professor. Professor Thaman has been one of our longest serving Professors and his contributions to USP and the region has been very significant and recognized regionally and internationally;
5. Finally, as mentioned earlier, the University’s success is a collective effort and I would like to thank everyone concerned with our operations this year: our staff, students; Pro Chancellor and Chair of Council; the Council; Members of Senate; the Chair and Members of FIC; Chair and Members of Audit and Risk Committee; our Member Countries; our Development partners; our business and NGO partners; and the community at large. I would also like to thank our network of international friends of the University who have provided valuable advice and support.
6. We look forward to working closely with you all and to continue our relationship and partnership in moving USP from Good to Excellent as we head towards USP’s 50th anniversary in 2018.
Have a blessed Christmas and a very productive, healthy and enjoyable 2015.
Dear members of staff and students
As we approach the end of another year and the Festive Season, I want to very briefly look back to the start of the year and see how the University has performed so far. At the beginning of this year I had indicated to you all that 2013 is a significant year because it is the first year of implementation of the University’s Strategic Plan 2013-2018, a plan which was developed after a very inclusive and consultative process with many of our stakeholders, including member governments, development partners, staff, students and many more in the region.
Today I am pleased to say that 2013 has been another successful year of achievements for the University, with significant milestones achieved. We knew that it was not going to be easy, but with a heightened sense of ownership from stakeholders, enhanced confidence in the University by member governments, development partners and students and parents, coupled with our collective sheer determination and hard work to transform the University into an excellent institution, we have come a long way and started off our first year of SP 2013-2018 in a manner that gives us confidence that the transformative objectives of the SP will be met.
In summary for 2013, we have seen the biggest increase in our student enrolment, reaching just over 27,000 students spread across our 14 campuses in the region. Our finances remain strong. Our development assistance has reached a level never experienced before with double the amount that we had in 2008 when I started as your Vice-Chancellor. In terms of improving quality, we have completed our 5-yearly external academic quality audit by the New Zealand Universities Quality Agency (AQA) and received positive feedback at all levels with the AQA report expected to be received soon. Some of our programmes have gone through external reviews (e.g. Law Programme) and accreditation processes such as our MBA with the Association of MBAs. We have paid particular attention to our Campus developments and works are in progress for new campuses in Kiribati, Solomon Islands, and Lautoka with others in the pipeline such as RMI and Tonga.
In terms of Learning and Teaching, we are progressing well with our STAR project with the introduction of the 8-8-8 programme structure and the Credit Points. We have appointed several Professors to key positions that have been vacant for several years. To enhance student success, we appointed First Year Student Coordinators in the Faculties, and SLS staff. We have started paying more attention to our Postgraduate students in the provision of Postgraduate labs and spaces for them (e. FBE) as well as improving postgraduate numbers which has recorded increases this year. Provision of more scholarships both at PG and UG level have been possible through a number of sponsorships this year including the offering of USP PhD scholarships. Our four generic courses are now all in place, some being fully on-line.
2013 has also been a busy year for research activities and the Research Office. We saw the formation of the PIURN, which is a milestone in getting 10 Universities including USP to form this research consortium. Staff awards for excellence in Research and Innovation continued in 2013. We were told by the PVC Research and International that in 2012, the University had the best research performance in its history. This is a significant achievement amidst much belt-tightening and change.
In terms of the employability of our graduates, we have for the first time started a Careers Fair driven by the Careers Office to try and link up our potential graduates to the employers and the work force. We have industry focus groups that can provide necessary feedback, as employers, on the quality of our graduates.
Far-reaching fundamental re-design of USPNet was begun this year. The redesign was validated externally, and the first phase has seen improvement and given more confidence in ITS and our future work in ICTs. Much more energetic work will need to be done in 2014 to reap the full benefits of this redesign We have signed an agreement with RMI to take advantage of marine cable there and are looking to signing similar agreements with Tong and Vanuatu early next year.
In terms of HR, the quality of outcomes depend to a large extent on the quality of our staff, so more efforts have been put into appropriate performance systems, as well as talent recognition and staff development. On the other hand, the views of staff on how they perceive the work of the University is very critical, hence for the first time in 2013, we introduced the Staff VOICE Survey. An action plan for its implementation of survey results is in place.
I am also pleased to report that after much deliberation and negotiations with our Staff Unions we have reached an agreement for staff salary increases with payout this month backdated to 1 January 2013. All staff deserves this recognition for their hard work.
All in all, I can say that 2013 has been a very successful year for USP. Its success is due to the collective efforts and commitments of you as staff and students as well the confidence in us by our many stakeholders. I wish to record my appreciation to all of you. I also acknowledge the work of SMT/HOS/Directors and support staff who have worked very hard. Our student leaders have been wonderful and responsible, and I wish to thank them very much as well. I also strongly believe that behind successful transformation and reform it is critical to inspire our staff to perform better.
As we look towards 2014, we will not be resting on our laurels; more needs to be done as we continue with the transformation of USP guided by our SP. These are times of great change and intense activities across the University and the Pacific. Working in partnership with our Member Countries, and strengthened by our multinational work force and diverse mix of students, USP can and will achieve great things for the good of the region.
For now, we will take some time to relax and reflect on the meaning of Christmas as a time of giving, of happiness, of loving one another, of renewed hope. May the spirit of Christmas dwell with you all as we celebrate the end of another successful year for USP.
I wish you and your families a Merry Christmas and a very productive and healthy New Year.
Dear members of staff and students
At the beginning of this year I had indicated to you all that 2012 is a significant year because it marks the end of the University’s Strategic Plan 2010-2012. I had further said that this was an opportune time to reflect on that Plan’s successes and challenges, and to frankly ask ourselves if we have been proactive enough in supporting our member countries and addressing the needs of the region while at the same time improving the standards of the University.
I had also said that it was crucial that this reflection is honest and well-considered, as the planning for the next Strategic Plan must be done properly if we expect it to guide us through to excellence by the University’s 50th anniversary in 2018.
The message therefore was to successfully implement the current plan and to develop the new Strategic Plan. Due the combined leadership and efforts of the University community, we can all take pride and satisfaction in knowing that we have achieved both these milestones. Your contribution to the two major plans have been significant and supportive and above all you have all demonstrated a sense of commitment, enthusiasm, and ownership in ensuring the current plan is implemented and that the new plan is something that we all can be proud of ---come the University’s 50 Anniversary in 2018. So thank you all for this.
We are very pleased that this year has turned out to be very successful. It is worthwhile pointing out some of the success of this year.
The above are some of the major achievements. Moving forward we are confident that the Strategic Plan 2013-2018 provides an exciting and forward-looking path that will make the University an even higher quality institution and that will make the stakeholders realize how valuable the University is for their own development.
The foundation for achieving the ambitious objectives of the SP is strong. Provided there is stability of leadership, we are able to recruit and retain high quality staff, and we continue to build our reputation, there is every confidence that the University will enter perhaps its most exciting phase of development culminating in an excellent, more relevant and valuable university rooted strongly in its Pacific heritage.
I feel that the majority of our staff members are enthused and excited by our new Vision, especially the theme of “Transforming USP from good to excellent”. You as staff of the University have contributed to the success we have achieved, and I wish to record my appreciation to all of you. I also acknowledge the work of SMT/HOS/Directors who have worked very hard. Our student leaders have been wonderful and responsible, and I wish to thank them very much as well. I also strongly believe that behind successful transformation and reform it is critical to inspire our staff to perform better.
These are times of great change and intense activities across the University and the Pacific. Working in partnership with its Member Countries, and strengthened by its multinational work force and diverse mix of students, USP can and will achieve great things for the good of the region.
I wish you and your families a Merry Christmas and a very productive New Year.