Welcome Message to Students - 2015
Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President
Welcome to USP for 2015, a year that promises many exciting opportunities for all students. I extend particularly warm greetings to our newest students, who I hope will embrace the USP family and launch their path to life-long achievement and success. We are a unique and outstanding institution distinguished by our diversity, spread across the Pacific, recognised for our ability to work closely together, helped by the latest technology, shared purpose, and tremendous goodwill.
Students joining USP now for Bachelors programmes will be fresh graduates by our 50th anniversary in 2018. As the last class to graduate before the anniversary year, they may well have a special role to play in the celebrations. This class is also, in many ways, a crucial group: USP has set its sights on achieving excellence by 2018, and we will not be able to do this unless our current students are as ambitious and determined as we are. So there are high expectations of the Class of 2017, and of all students at the University, be they continuing students, graduate students, or at Foundation-level.
Students are at the heart of USP. We provide them with all the support needed to achieve academic excellence and all-rounded success. We are committed to your success, and expect that all students are here to achieve as much as possible.
Great achievement comes from strong ambition, focused drive, and willingness to push yourself in new directions and to the fullest extent. I invite you to make plans for the year and to challenge yourself to grow academically and personally. We pledge to help and advise you to bring those plans to fruition.
How we will support you
As effective and lifelong learning is the main objective of students, we will provide the best quality teaching and learning. Our professors and lecturers provide interesting, exciting opportunities to learn both individually and collectively. Teaching will weave in interesting ways with the latest research in the relevant areas, and students will be given the opportunity for field studies and research so we can bring the world of study, work and the community together.
As the first year is a major challenge for students in making a transition from high school teaching to University learning, in being away from your homes in an environment in which you are expected to make decisions and take responsibility for these, the University has set in place academic, pastoral, counselling and overall supportive services that I urge you to take full advantage of.
Effective time management and personal discipline will be a major key to your success at USP. Please pay attention to learning about time management and the importance of being disciplined when dealing with competing demands and temptations.
We have expanded the range of services to our students. For example, the Disability and the Career Services Offices are providing more and more services. Student Administrative Services and the faculties themselves have a comprehensive set of academic support services in place to support all students to succeed.
Our high expectations of students are therefore clearly matched by the quality of comprehensive support and welfare services we offer. Suggestions and requests from students relating to additional support required are always carefully considered and accommodated when possible. The voice of the students is important in the governance and management of the University. Last year we started a Student Voice Survey to take systematic feedback from students to improve our services. This supportive environment means that all students can confidently work very hard with the expectation that their commitment to success will be matched by that of the University.
USP is committed to the balanced education of the whole person, and ensures that there are many events throughout the year that that both complement daily work in classrooms and laboratories and provide a welcome diversion. Students should engage with university events as much as possible, for learning, networking purposes and personal development.
The University has recently seen several of its academic programmes receive international accreditation, and will continue to pursue such external validations for more of its programmes. We constantly assess all of our programmes and compare them with those of our comparator universities overseas and international best practice, and will continue to address any areas we deem to be falling short. Overall, our academic standards are extremely high.
You will be challenged throughout your time at USP, as our programmes are rigorous and demanding. We want you to learn as much as possible and lay robust foundations for career success and lifelong learning. USP students are so accomplished because of our approach to learning; we believe that both the University and the students need to put in equal amounts of effort, determination, and diligence to support achievement. Your hard work will be matched by our efforts to support you. We believe that this leads to more efficient learning and greater attainment, which puts our graduates ahead and makes them more attractive to employers.
USP is a positive environment that values diversity as a source of strength. While we all prioritize academic achievement, the happiness and well-being of all of our students are also very important. I intend for all students to be able to look back on their university days and be awed by just how much they learned outside, as well as inside, the classroom. Those students who focus solely on their studies will miss out on chances to learn about other countries and cultures, and will also lose the opportunity to establish regional professional networks so necessary for future success.
I strongly believe that, in order to grow academically, one must also grow and mature as a person. So I urge you to be confident and conscientious, to work hard, and to seek out learning opportunities all the time. Those chances for learning may come in the guise of a student association activity, a community service project, or simply spending time with classmates from a different country. Do take advantage of the fact that USP is a truly Pacific university.
Students pursuing their studies by distance or online are strongly encouraged to take part in activities and meet up with fellow USP students when possible and in whichever mode is convenient. There are many ways to become involved with Campus Life, including by attending video-conference presentations, taking part in online discussions, or visiting our campuses or centres in-person for events. USP is an inclusive community that values all of its members and appreciates that, with dozens of locations across the Pacific Ocean, we need to be open, flexible, and welcoming. USPís region-leading ICT facilities make it possible for our community to thrive without boundaries.
As I write this message, I am reminded of my own studies at USP. I came to USP in 1971 as a Foundation student and completed my BA, GCEd and MA at USP before doing my PhD at the University of British Columbia, Canada. Many of my classmates turned into lifetime friends. I grew a strong professional network, and have kept in contact with many of my fellow students over the years. The personal bonds forged over shared late-night study sessions and living at USP should not be underestimated; given the nature of the Pacific Islands, you can be sure to frequently come into contact with your USP friends. As USP attracts the best and brightest Pacific students, we do educate future leaders and the most influential members of most of the professions. USP Alumni Network is growing each year and will help you to stay in touch and keep those ties strong.
USPís Aims for 2015
During this year the University will review its Strategic Plan; this will be a serious exercise to ascertain what has been achieved thus far. The Review will determine whether or not we are on track to achieve the goals we have set for our 50th Anniversary in 2018. USP is very serious about delivering excellence for this region. While we are committed to delivering the very best academic programmes for individual students, the larger picture involves a broad variety of priorities and objectives.
This year will see the completion of a new Campus in Kiribati by July/August; the preparatory work finalised for the construction of new Solomon Islands campus; the renovation of the premises acquired for the new Campus in the Marshall Islands, and substantial progress on the development of new Lautoka campus. Our next aim is to deepen engagement with our communities, and build interest in the further and higher education that is available at USP. We will be looking at more ways to involve communities with the work and activities of the University.
The University as a whole is committed to increasing its research activity. The Research Office can provide advice on what participation in research involves and how to get started. Carrying out research, whether required for a degree programme or not, is a valuable learning experience, on many levels, and the greater number of active researchers at USP, the more vibrant and exciting our learning community will be. More importantly, sometimes even relatively small research projects can have a major impact on our communities.
I hope that you are looking forward to the busy year ahead as much as I am, and that you will take advantage of all the activities on campuses and support services available. You are part of a flourishing and highly-respected university with a growing international profile. I expect all USP students to have goals that are as impressive as those set by the University; excellence cannot be achieved without aspiration. Talk with your classmates, your families, and your lecturers if you need ideas or advice as you consider your future. I urge you to be bold and dream big, for our region needs more university-educated people with bright ideas, determination, confidence, and community values. USP will support your learning journey and personal growth so that your achievements are limited only by your ambition.
USPís most successful students work very hard in their courses, spend some time pursuing research interests, are involved with clubs and activities, and perform community service. I hope this will describe you this year, and I look forward to celebrating your accomplishments and those of your fellow students.
Once again welcome to our new and continuing students. I wish you all a very positive and productive academic year ahead.