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Vice-Chancellor and President
Chief Justice and Acting President, Justice Anthony Gates
Head of Delegation of the European Union to the Pacific, HE Mr. Andrew Jacobs
Pro Chancellor and Chair of Council, Mr. Ikbal Jannif
Honourable Fiji Government Ministers and senior officials
Your Excellencies and Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Deputy Chair of Council, Ms Fekita Utoikamanu
Chairs and members of the Council, Senate, FIC and Audit and Risk Committee
Members of USP’s Senior Management Team
Chair of Fiji Higher Education Commission, Dr. Richard Wah
Heads of International and Regional Organisations
School Principals, teachers and students
Colleagues, Members of Staff and USP students
Friends of USP
I join Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor John Bythell in extending to you all a very warm welcome to The University of the South Pacific. This is one of the most important days in USP’s calendar, and so I am especially pleased that HE Mr. Andrew Jacobs, Head of Delegation of the European Union to the Pacific has agreed to be our Chief Guest. It is always a great pleasure to have you amongst us, Your Excellency.
Open Day 2014 is designed as an introduction and a welcome to all who are interested in pursuing higher education at an institution well known for quality, Pacific focus, and its links with industry and regional and international partners.
I am pleased to welcome sponsors and employers to Open Day 2014, and thank you most sincerely for your very visible support of human resource development in this region.
To all of the visiting students and their teachers, I extend a very warm welcome to USP. I do hope that you will be inspired and excited by this event, and I trust that your experience here today will make it clear that studying at USP will give you the best chance of life-long success.
All students, teachers, parents and guests will have the opportunity today to participate in a wide range of activities and access comprehensive information about USP.
I encourage all of you to gather as much information as possible and to speak with staff and let them get to know you. It is difficult, especially for secondary school students, to be certain about their career aspirations. That is why it is a good idea to think realistically about your academic strengths and interests, and share your thoughts with staff, who will be able to suggest suitable programmes to you. All of our academic offerings are rigorous, high-quality and lead to fulfilling careers.
While you are here discovering how USP fits into your future, you will be pleased to know that you are part of a much bigger event which is taking place across the Pacific Islands. Open Day 2014, which actually marks the start of enrolment for 2015, is being held simultaneously at most of our regional campuses. It is also being broadcast live to all our member countries through Sky Pacific.
This year’s Open Day theme – “USP – Shaping your Future” captures our intention to equip students with the knowledge, skills and attributes they need to be successful life-long learners. This year, we have 118 schools and about 13000 students attending the opening day in Fiji, and many thousands of students at the other campuses.
USP is proud of its important role in the Pacific as the premier provider of higher education, and as the place where many of the region’s future leaders spend their formative years. In many ways, USP lays the foundation for Pacific regionalism, something that it has done for 46 years.
Quality is a core value of the University and is assured through a comprehensive system implemented by External Advisers from renowned Universities, institutional quality audits from Australian and New Zealand quality agencies and by international accreditors. Our programmes are just as good as those offered by Australian and New Zealand universities, but come at a lower cost and are more relevant contextualized to the Pacific.
Our MBA and LLB programmes have been internationally accredited, as have our programmes in Accounting, Finance; and Tourism and Hospitality, Software Engineering and Net Centric Computing.
As USP grows, we will be seeking international accreditation of most of our programmes. We are in the process for American accreditation through the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
International accreditations represent an important external endorsement and validation of our quality and attest to the strength and integrity of our brand name.
Over the last 46 years, the University has produced over 43, 000 graduates. USP alumni have distinguished the University through their many achievements. USP alumni work in high-profile roles throughout the region and overseas. The Alumni Network is currently undergoing a major expansion, and has developed into a truly valuable resource for students, members, and the institution. No other university can match USP’s strength in networking across the Pacific.
Leisure and social activities are an important part of the University experience.
Campus Life organizes many sporting events, and this brings students and staff from different academic areas together for some healthy competition. At Laucala, the large swimming pool, the Fitness Centre (which is regarded as the best in the Pacific), and the well-maintained playing fields offer students many opportunities for fun and the chance to learn new things. The campus and the facilities are of high standard and provide students with excellent learning environment
We are proud to offer a range of student exchange programmes with our international partners. USP hosts many international students and they contribute greatly to the vibrant atmosphere on campus, particularly at Laucala, just as USP students effectively represent the Pacific during their exchanges overseas.
We are also very happy to provide our students with industrial experience and are pleased with the efforts made by our hospitality and engineering schools, in particular, to secure industry partnerships where deserving students are attached to companies and mentored by the leaders in the industry.
There are indeed many exciting opportunities for learning at USP. The University is growing in terms of student numbers, campuses, international repute, and research achievements. A USP MSc student for example, recently won the Young Scientist Award at the 47th Annual Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology Conference, beating other postgraduate students from Australian and other universities. Our PG students in climate change have provided technical support at important climate change negotiations, something appreciated by the Chair of the negotiations.
The Strategic Plan promises to transform USP into a world-class and internationally recognized institution, and this transformation is well underway. In order to improve performance across priority areas and transform the university, USP is making significant investments in facilities at all campuses. The construction of the new Kiribati Campus, which is funded by a loan from ADB, began last month, while construction of the new Lautoka Campus is due to start soon.
Planning for the new campus in Solomon Islands is also underway, and the Government of the Republic of Marshall Islands has purchased a large property to house the new RMI Campus. Nearly all campuses are undergoing at least moderate development.
Major improvements have also been made to USPNet, our communications and information system that covers 33 million km², so that it now provides better connectivity to all our campuses. Internet Broadband has been upgraded at RMI and Tonga campuses to 100mbps, these represent increases of over 2000 percent. More member countries are likely to be connected as fibre is laid. USP will be able to use new technologies to deliver a high-quality education to more people at an affordable cost.
We are also upgrading and expanding our student support services. The Disability Resource Centre and Career Services offer focused advice and assistance, while the Medical Centre, Library, and Student Learning Support have enlarged their offerings to cater for all students. In terms of financing, our Fiji students now notably have access to the National Toppers NTS and TELS schemes, which provide valuable financial assistance.
I have told you just a little bit about USP. As USP’s Vice Chancellor, I enjoy telling people about the quality of our academic programmes, how our teaching and administrative staff are absolutely committed to student success and well-being, how our multicultural campus life adds so much to the university experience, how we have the best student support and facilities in the region, and how we are continuing to grow and to improve.
I could go on for quite a long while….. because I am incredibly proud of this University and its people. But, rather than me going on and on, I invite you to now discover your USP. Open Day 2014 is about you discovering where you would fit at USP, what it has to offer you, and how you could make a contribution to our Pacific learning community.
The choice of university is one of the most important decisions of a person’s life, and I believe USP is the right choice for bright and ambitious Pacific Islanders who wish to learn and excel at a world-class institution; in short, people like you.
I hope you enjoy Open Day 2014, and I look forward to having many of you enrolled for 2015, at this quality institution of higher learning ---The University of the South Pacific.
It is now my honour and privilege to introduce our Chief Guest HE. Mr. Andrew Jacobs.
Mr. Andrew Jacobs has been Ambassador of the European Union for the Pacific since February 2013. He is accredited to 11 different countries in the region, namely Fiji (where the EU Delegation is based), the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Niue, Marshall Islands, and Nauru, and also works with French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna, and Pitcairn.
Ambassador Jacobs joined the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium, back in 1993, working on economic co-operation with South and South-east Asia. He then worked on cooperation with the Western Balkans and former Soviet Union countries.
Between 2001 and 2009 Ambassador Jacobs worked as Head of Operations in the Delegations of the European Union, first in Vietnam and then in Thailand, where he was in charge also for cooperation with Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos. He returned to Brussels in 2009 and, following a stint as Desk Officer for Egypt, he was appointed Head of Unit responsible for the EU cooperation with North Africa and the Middle East in the Directorate General for Development and Co-operation- EuropeAid.
Ambassador Jacobs is married with three children. His wife and his daughter are currently living with him in Suva.
Ladies and Gentlemen please welcome H E. Mr. Jacobs
Ambassador Andrew Jacobs
At The University of the South Pacific Open Day
Representatives/Heads of Government;
Mr. Ikbal Jannif, Pro Chancellor and Chair of Council of the USP;
Mr. Rajesh Chandra, Vice Chancellor and President of the USP
Representatives of the Diplomatic Corps;
Representatives of International and Regional Organisations;
Sponsors of the Open Day;
Students, staff, ladies and gentlemen, and above all, prospective students.
It is a pleasure and a privilege for me to be here today and I thank Vice-Chancellor Professor Rajesh Chandra very warmly for the invitation to address you all at the USP Open Day.
In the words of the USP's brochure: "The Open Day is aimed at ensuring that prospective students are made fully aware of the different faculties and courses within the university so as to enable them to make sound decisions regarding their future studies and career paths."
So it's an important day! There's a lot at stake. The theme of the Open Day is "Shaping your Future". Perhaps that should be an instruction "Shape your future!" Use everything you can find here today to help you to decide what shape you want shape your future to have.
But don't make rash decisions, don't jump before you know where you're likely to land, and be sure to weigh up all your options. And remember that you are responsible for shaping your future, and you are in charge – don't let others push you into a shape that you might find uncomfortable. It's never too late to change, but some shapes can be more difficult to get out of than others.
A long time ago, I went to university. I had no idea at the time that I wanted to be an Ambassador, and I took a few interesting diversions on my way to Fiji. But university opened up all sorts of options for me, as it will for you, and I am grateful for that.
You are young, and the world is your oyster.
It's a big cliché. But I have to say it to you, because it's true. By the way, I just found out that the expression was coined by Shakespeare in his play "The Merry Wives of Windsor" which he wrote in 1600, 414 years ago. Perhaps you already knew that.
Oysters hold pearls, but not all of them. Oysters are a struggle to open. The bigger the oyster, the harder it is to open, but, if there is one, the bigger the pearl. The world is indeed your oyster, but you've got some hard work to do to ensure you get the pearls you deserve. You'll need vision, persistence, and dedication, but the pearls are there.
Today should help you to decide which route is likely to lead you to the most and biggest pearls – in terms of fulfilment and of maximising your potential. Take advantage of it.
It is indeed great to be here to share this day with you. The European Union enjoys close and excellent relations with the University of the South Pacific, and I am very proud of this. Since 1968, the university has proved itself to be a beacon of premier tertiary education in the Pacific.
The USP has helped the Pacific region and its people to fulfil their considerable potential. It has helped to show the world what the people of the Pacific can achieve. It is innovative and creative and continues to go from strength to strength. I look forward to celebrating its Golden Jubilee in 2018.
The European Union's partnership with the USP and with its students from all over the Pacific is an important component of the European Union's broader co-operation with the Pacific. We are pleased to provide financial support to the USP for projects that aim to help Pacific countries to tackle the most major challenges facing them, such as climate change and the need for improvements in basic education.
We work with the USP because of you – because of its students and its future students. You are the Pacific leaders of tomorrow. We want to support your work, to help to empower you, and we are also keen to use your expertise and that of USP staff to benefit the Pacific and to further EU-Pacific co-operation.
Thus the USP partners the European Union for the implementation of important initiatives such as "Pacific Regional Initiatives for the Delivery of basic Education" or PRIDE, "Adapting to Climate Change and Sustainable Energy" or ACSE, and a project supported in the framework of the "Global Climate Change Alliance", or GCCA.
The European Union provides funding for research projects and a new global programme called "Horizon 2020" represents significant opportunities for the USP and other Pacific institutions. Get googling.
I am convinced that your hunt for pearls in those oysters will be more fruitful if you are able to spend some time studying abroad. New experiences, new cultures, and new study opportunities will enrich you, and open doors. And those that you meet will be enriched by meeting you and studying with you. Coming from the Pacific, you have much to offer.
In 1987, the European Commission, which is the administrative arm of the European Union, invented a programme called Erasmus. This provided financial support to enable students in the European Union to undertake part of their university education in a different European country.
Since 1987 well over three million students have taken part. Erasmus has fundamentally changed the university years of European students, and it has changed their outlooks and enriched their lives.
In 2009, the European Union introduced Erasmus Mundus, which enables post-graduate students from outside Europe to study there, and for European students to study at universities elsewhere in the world. I am pleased that students from the Pacific have taken part, and we've had, for instance, students from Fiji studying in Portugal.
There have so far been 28 Erasmus students from USP. We want many more. This year we are starting a new Erasmus programme, called Erasmus plus. We have FJ$4.2 billion available until 2020. That is not all for the Pacific…..but I hope that USP students will take up many of the 19,000 opportunities for Joint Masters Degrees offered to non-EU nationals.
Europe and the Pacific have a longstanding friendship, but we need to get to know each other better. Increased student mobility is a very valuable way to go forward. And I hope you will use exchange opportunities to get to know Europe better. There is a lot to get to know. The European Union now comprises 28 countries with a combined population of 500 million.
When I was eighteen, a few years after Shakespeare died, there were serious economic problems in Europe and young people often felt they had nothing to look forward to. A popular song at the time called "When you're young" contained the words "the world's your oyster, but your future's a clam". With all the opportunities you have, this will be the case for none of you. Make the most of this Open Day and of what USP has to offer.
I wish you all a very successful Open Day!
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