The Shirley Park in Lautoka was abuzz with activities as thousands of people attended the University of the South Pacific (USP) Lautoka Campus’ Open Day on Friday and Saturday (August 10th and 11th).
It was a very colorful and carnival-like atmosphere as students and people from all walks of life flocked to the lively venue to make the most of this ever popular annual event.
Prospective students were able to get a feel of what it is like to study at the university and they made the most of this ideal opportunity to find out about the range of programs and courses offered by USP by engaging in one-on-one chat with academics and talking to the administrative staff and USP students.
The event featured displays and demonstrations by various schools of USP’s three faculties from the Laucala Campus in Suva – Faculty of Arts, Law and Education (FALE), Faculty of Business and Economics (FBE) and Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment (FSTE). There were also informative exhibits from the Campus’ library, The Student Academic Services (SAS), Distance and Flexible Learning (DFL), Continuing and Community Education (CCE), College of Foundation Studies. The USP Book Centre and USP Student Association were also present.
Secondary and primary school students and other members of the community, including the tiny tots, were particularly fascinated by the world of science presented through the displays by different schools of FSTE. The iguana, snake, specimens of butterfly, fish, baby turtles and other marine biological specimen were the major attractions among many others.
This year’s Open Day was organized on a more comprehensive scale and, for the first time ever, conducted over two days and on extended hours on Friday and till 1pm on Saturday for the convenience of working-class-people.
Participants were kept thoroughly entertained with multi-cultural items by the students of USP and Jasper Williams High School and live broadcast by USP’s media partner Mix FM was another major attraction.
Friday’s programme featured a very interesting show by the Police Canine Unit which received a lot of applause and cheer from the crowds especially the participating school students.
The major highlight in the night was the free open air variety concert which featured highly talented artists like WOW Group, Similar Boys, Ta’ahine Afa Dance Group, Simla Boys and MIC Singers as well as USP students who stunned the crowd with their lively performances and left them screaming for more.
Lots of fabulous prizes were given away throughout the event to the participating students and the general public.
Chief guest, Deputy Vice Chancellor Administration and Regional Campuses, Dr Esther Williams said this year’s Open Day theme ‘USP Your Pathway to Success’ was very appropriate for those young people who had chosen to participate in the event and for the students who had made USP the University of their first choice.
Dr Williams said the presence of 54 high schools in the Western Division indicated a high demand for tertiary education in the division.
“The Western Division is also the economic heartland of Fiji, and is projected to grow rapidly in the future. Increase in learning population due to rapid development in tourism industry is likely to increase demand for tertiary level courses and skilled based training in the Western Division.” she said.
She highlighted that despite the competition in tertiary education especially in Fiji, USP’s student numbers continued to grow.
“We have managed to record a 10% increase. We now have over 20,000 students studying at the USP doing various programmes. The most pleasing is the increase in students registered in foundation and postgraduate studies.”
Dr Williams announced that USP had commenced its longer term strategy to rectify 40 years of under-investment in long term maintenance, expansion of regional campuses and additional infrastructure to deliver high quality learning and improve the student experience.
She said a new Campuses Development Plan is currently being developed, including a new Lautoka Campus to begin hopefully in 2013,” she said.
USP Lautoka Campus Director in her welcome address acknowledged the presence of Dr Williams, the Lautoka City Council Chief Executive Officer, Mr Jone Nakauvadra, the Chairperson of USP Lautoka Campus Advisory Committee, Mrs Rajneesh Charan, the District Education Officer Western and a member of Lautoka Campus Advisory Committee, Mr Lorima Voravora.
She also showed her appreciation to member of the USP Lautoka Campus Advisory Committee, Mr Tito Isala, Registrar of the University of Fiji, The team from the Fiji National University, staff from USP Laucala campus, the former Lautoka Campus Director, Dr Anirudh Singh, representatives from scholarship agencies, the partners and sponsors of the open day, USPSA Lautoka Campus’ executives and members and students and teachers from the visiting high schools in the Western Division.
Dr Pramila said the Lautoka Campus took a bold step this year to host a two day event to mark USP Open Day.
“Being predominantly a distance and flexible learning campus, this two day event is meant to provide flexibility to those who due to family or work commitment cannot attend on a normal day,” she said.
Dr Pramila said the event offered a huge opportunity to the people of the Western Division by not only displaying information on USP programs and courses but also by making available academic counselors to provide guidance.
There were other displays by public and private sectors. Food and refreshment
stalls were also available.
The event was undoubtedly a huge success.