Office of the Vice-Chancellor



Vice-Chancellor and President's Speech: September Graduation Ceremony 2017

Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President

1. Acknowledgements

The Chancellor, The President of the Republic of Fiji, His Excellency Major-General (Ret’d) Jioji Konusi Konrote and First Lady Sarote Konrote;
The Pro Chancellor and Chair of Council of The University of the South Pacific, Mr. Winston Thompson and Mrs. Queenie Thompson;
Honourable Ministers and Senior Officials of the Fijian Government;
Excellencies and Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Heads of International and Regional Organisations;
Members of Council, Senate and their Committees;
Members of the USP Senior Management Team;
Graduands, their families and friends;
Members of staff and students;
Ladies and Gentlemen—and everyone who is watching the live broadcast of this graduation.

2. Welcome and Congratulations

Welcome, Ni Sa Bula, Namaste and a very good morning to you all. 

It gives me great pleasure to join the Pro-Chancellor in warmly welcoming you all to The University of the South Pacific’s second Laucala Campus Graduation ceremony for 2017.  This is the first of two graduations sessions today.

I would like to specially welcome our 24th Chancellor, The President of the Republic of Fiji, His Excellency Major-General (Ret’d) Jioji Konusi Konrote to this very important occasion. It is fitting that our 24th Chancellor, installed this year, is the President of Fiji, the country in which USP was born and that he will be part of USP as it prepares for its 50th Anniversary in 2018. A very warm welcome also to the graduands.

Today’s graduation ceremony has been divided into two sessions given the large number of graduates. The morning session will have students graduating from the Faculty of Business and Economics and the Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment.  The second ceremony from 2.00pm today will graduate students from the Faculty of Arts, Law and Education and Pacific Technical and Further Education also known as Pacific TAFE

3. Graduation Numbers

Today we have 1184 students receiving certificates, diplomas and degrees. Of these, this morning session has 698 students graduating, while the afternoon session will have 486 graduates.  Sixty three percent (63%) of those graduating today are women. Twenty one percent (21%) of all those graduating today are from Pacific TAFE while 24% will receive Post Graduate qualifications. A total of 124 students will be graduating with Master’s Degree. Nine (9) students are graduating today with PhD, 5 of whom will receive their certificate in this session. Students graduating from non-regional countries are from Afghanistan, Belize, Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Germany, India, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, South Africa and the United States of America. Students from 23 countries are graduating today. 

4. To the Graduates

To our graduates, let me say that you have done exceptionally well and I congratulate you heartily.  Today concludes the achievement of a major milestone in your life—one that will fundamentally change your life and increase the chance of lifelong success anywhere in the world.

I hope that you maintain the network with your colleagues which you have established at the University and that you will stay connected to the University through the Alumni Network. You now join over 47, 000 USP alumni worldwide. 

 

Today, you really deserve to celebrate. You all have worked hard, sacrificed and persevered. Remember to thank those who have supported you so far, your parents & families, sponsors, lecturers and tutors without whose support you would not have reached this far.

5. Significant Achievements 

USP is currently in the fifth year of its current Strategic Plan which aims to steer the University towards becoming an excellent institution that delivers outstanding results for the Pacific Island region with a world-wide reputation.

USP’s current enrollment stands strong at around 30,000, driven by the attraction to quality education that makes it the premier higher education institution in the region.

The University has continued its quest to improve its quality and reputation through international accreditations of its programmes. We have now achieved a total number of 24 international accreditations and 8 international recognitions. 

This includes Bachelor of Education in Early Childhood and Care (In-service) programme by the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA). The Bachelor of Arts, Social Work major has been accredited by the Australian Community Works Association (ACWA). 

Pacific TAFE has now achieved a total of 8 international accreditations in the areas of Commercial Cookery, Early Childhood Education & Care, Hospitality Operations, Community Development, Project Management Practice and Counselling. 

The accreditation of the University’s programmes makes them more marketable internationally as it becomes comparable with similar programmes by other universities from around the world. 

6. Other achievements of USP and Future Developments

Some of our students have shown remarkable achievements and received wide recognition. 

Two teams from USP were declared the winner and second runner up at the ANZ Pacific Innovation Challenge 2017 on 5 August 2017 at the Grand Pacific Hotel, Suva. The teams Chai-Yo and Tranquillity were two (2) of six (6) teams from USP who were up against teams from the Fiji National University and University of Fiji. Our student, Sachin Mishra received the Standout Performance Award 

Two students from USP, Sunil Gopaul, a Master of Science student and Peni Hausia Havea, a PhD student participated in the New Zealand Falling Walls Lab competition, which was a collaboration between Royal Society Te Apārangi, the Germany Embassy in Wellington and Canberra, and the Australian Academy of Science. 

Students and staff have also combined to contribute to initiatives that help the community.

A team from the School of Engineering and Physics (SEP) has installed a solar desalination system on Yanuca Island, in the province of Serua in Fiji. This installation is part of a larger initiative that investigates the possibility of providing most of the community energy needs in remote islands using renewable energy. 

The University of the South Pacific has been working in a number of areas to strengthen and improve learning, teaching, research and its services that it provides to the students. 

USP and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have signed a cooperation agreement to boost knowledge collaboration between the two organisations. The agreement represents the ongoing long-term cooperation between USP and ADB, providing enhanced cooperation and partnership through mutually agreed joint work programmes. The agreement identifies how ADB and USP will collaborate to share the common objective of improving the capacity of policy analysis, public sector management, and quality education in the Pacific

Responding to digital and mobile learning opportunities, the University has provided first year full time students with a tablet each to enable greater access to learning resources from the beginning of this year. This will be expanded next year and continue until all USP students have mobile learning devices.

The Lecture Capture project was also launched successfully at the beginning of the 1st semester this year. Lecture capture enables lectures taken at Laucala, Alafua and Emalus campuses to be recorded and put on the University’s Moodle system to allow greater access to lectures the convenience and comfort of the students. Many more students at the regional campuses can now enroll in these courses. This should revolutionize regional access to courses and programmes.

The Nadi Hospitality and Tourism Training Centre of Pacific TAFE was opened on 18 August 2017. The Centre, which is worth FJ$1.3m, will conduct training for Commercial Cookery, Patisserie and in Hospitality Operations offered through Pacific TAFE. It has a commercial kitchen, a restaurant and bar, as well as classrooms and staff offices. 

USP has become an institutional member of the Oracle Academy. The Oracle Academy provides a complete portfolio of software, curriculum, hosted technology, faculty training, support, and certification resources to vocational and higher education institutions for teaching use. The Academy supports more than 3.1 million students in 110 countries. USP is the only member in the Pacific Islands.

The inaugural School Fest 2017 was organised by Microsoft initiative at USP under the School of Computing Information and Mathematical Sciences in September providing a platform to sharpen and learn new skills in the field of information technology. 

Over 21 secondary schools from the central division took part.

Responding to new needs, USP began offering new programmes from second semester of this year: Diploma of Library and Information Services (Level 5); Diploma in Pacific Vernacular Language (Cook Islands (CI) Māori); Post Graduate Diploma in Cybersecurity; Certificate III in Resilience (Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction); and Diploma of Early Childhood Education & Care (Level 5). 

In its quest to continue to improve the quality of USP qualifications, the University does external reviews of its academic programmes such as the one conducted recently for the Sociology discipline. An international benchmarking project on Teaching and Programme Quality is also underway which aims to set comparison standards with comparator Universities internationally. 

The groundbreaking ceremony for the new Solomon Islands Campus was successfully held on 24 August, 2017. The ADB has provided a loan of US$15.4 million for the development of the new Solomon Islands Campus, which has been guaranteed by the Solomon Islands Government. In addition to this, US$1.5m grant was provided by the ADB’s Clean Energy Financing Partnership Facility (CEFPF), for the construction of a solar panel photovoltaic system which will meet 75 per cent of the energy needs at the new Campus. 

A $9.3m halls of residence at the Laucala Campus was opened by Honorable Jone Usamate, Fiji’s Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations on 17 July 2017. The 11th Hall was financed through a loan of FJD 7.5m from the Fiji National Provident Fund and FJD 1.8m from Australian Pacific Technical College. Works on the 12th Hall facilities are also currently in progress which will create additional 420 beds for students. 

7. 50th Anniversary Preparations

In 2018, the University will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary.  I want to take this opportunity to invite all of you to be part of this historic milestone in the development of USP and the development of our region.

8. Thanks and Appreciation

I wish to thank USP’s member governments, development partners and our friends for their continuous support. I also thank the University Council and its Committees, Senate and Senior Management, staff and students for their continued support towards transforming and reforming USP from a good to an excellent University. Special acknowledgement needs to be made to the staff of the University who have been working hard towards the goal of excellence.

9. A Final Word

Chancellor Sir, ladies and gentlemen, a final word to the graduands – Congratulations once again. I have every confidence that each and every one of you will excel in your life and make your families, your country, and all of us proud.  

Ceremony One – 9am;
Faculty of Business and Economics & Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment
22 September 2017


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