Message to Students - University of the South Pacific
It is my pleasure to extend a warm welcome to all our students, both new and continuing. I also wish to extend a special welcome to our students with disability and like to assure you of our support in your studies.
As our students, you are a large and diverse group, reflecting our wonderful regional character and diversity. We are all wholeheartedly committed to and focused on our core mission: ensuring your academic success and giving you the best possible university experience for your lifelong success.
Students enrolled this year, as in the past, are not only from our member countries but other countries as well representing different cultures. We have again achieved yet another year of increased enrollments in 2017. This reflects the fact that access to tertiary education is being taken up seriously and I am pleased to note that you have chosen USP as your University for your further education.
USP is making its high-quality education more readily accessible, and is in continuous process of modernising its campuses throughout the region. The new and refurbished campuses make it easier for Pacific Islanders to study in their home country; the increased space of modern, purpose-built facilities, better ICT, and more programme and course choices with additional face-to-face tutorials make the Regional Campuses a great option for our students who either cannot come to the Laucala campus or do not wish to do so.
USP students come from a wide range of backgrounds and circumstances; that is one of the benefits of the USP experience. You will learn so much from each other. I urge you to make sure that you mix with as diverse a group as possible; eat together; toss a rugby or netball around together, and of course study together.
You will find that you have more in common than you ever expected, and you will also be surprised at the different ways that people think and live in our Member Countries and overseas. Learn as much as you can from each other informally or through Campus Life activities, and then take these new perspectives and apply them to your classroom learning. Campus Life activities are open to all students, regardless of location or mode of study, and include a wide range of beneficial and enjoyable offerings, including career counselling, leadership and entrepreneurship advice, health and wellness services, and sports and social activities. These activities and services add a great deal of value to the USP experience.
The year 2017 is particularly important for the University as a whole, as we are coming to the conclusion of our roadmap to Excellence. We have been working very hard over the past four years to ensure that, by our 50th Anniversary in 2018, we are to become an outstanding institution, recognised globally for our high academic standards, regionally-relevant research, and significant contributions made to regional development.
One of our indicators of success is quality through accreditation and recognition of our programmes. As of this month, 18 of our programmes have been internationally accredited/recognised. This “stamp of quality” indicates to employers and educational institutions overseas that your USP qualification is demonstrably comparable to that of other fine international universities. We are planning to add to the 18 accredited programmes this year; the Deans and the Director of Pacific TAFE are working diligently to get this done.
I am so pleased that you will be at USP to witness our efforts to transform this University from good to excellent. Just as we set the goal of being outstanding, and decided that one of the ways we would measure this is through the number of accreditations we earn, you are urged to set your own goals and then to decide upon ways to measure your own progress. The academic quality of your achievement at USP will powerfully shape your lifelong success, so do study hard.
For example, you may have ambitions to earn a Gold Medal at your graduation, and you may decide to measure progress by achieving certain grades each semester. Your academic advisors can help you with goal setting so I urge you to set goals both for your time at USP and for after graduation, and to think big- we want our students and alumni to aim for excellence in all that they do, and we support both our students and alumni to achieve that excellence.
You are fortunate to be here at USP to share in the progress that we have made as we move towards our goal of excellence. You will see the many improvements made to facilities for this Academic Year; will appreciate the introduction of new methods of learning support (such as tablets for new first year degree students and lecture capture initiatives); will be able to take up unique opportunities for work experience, and research, and enrichment. USP students are also known for their enthusiasm and willingness to take part in community work, so I expect you will enjoy many of the international-standard academic and extra-curricular opportunities that we offer you.
USP is certainly looking forward to a very exciting year ahead. However, the University and its region do not exist in a vacuum, and I would be remiss if my welcoming words to you did not address the global political and economic situations. World affairs do impact our work as a university and may colour your individual experience as a tertiary student. Intellectual curiosity, integrity, and cross-cultural competencies are attributes that we expect our graduates to have, and so we expect you to be knowledgeable of and engage with the wider world.
There will always be changes that we must face. You can be sure that you are in the right place for an excellent education that will set you up well to manage changes adeptly and for career success. Of this we are certain; USP education gives you the knowledge and tools to make an impact in your chosen field. All students are working toward that certificate, diploma, or degree; and, along the way, you will be attaining some very important intangibles, namely leadership, an appreciation of regionalism, the skills and ability to manage change, and confidence. While at USP, we aim for you to become confident in your knowledge, in your presentation, and in your ability to shape your own destiny and the destiny of others as leaders.
International relations dominate the news these days, and the uncertainty in the diplomatic sphere and international markets will permeate our region. Do not let this negatively impact you; rather, try to observe, learn from your observations, and draw your own conclusions. I hope that you will maintain your focus on your studies and be confident in the fact that you, through your coursework, research, and social activities, are developing the values, ambition, creativity, and flexibility that are required to succeed after graduation.
As Pacific Islanders, or valued guests in the case of others, you are urged be strong voices for the issues that impact our region, and to challenge the rest of the world to understand and empathise with Pacific Islanders as we face the results of Climate Change. More than that, all of us together must find ways to urge the world to action. As students, and future leaders, you are best placed to be the voice for our region and to present our concerns to the world’s future leaders who are students like you.
I look forward to meeting many of you during 2017. Come and join me on my group walks at the Laucala Campus or speak to me after one of the many symposiums, lectures and forums that will be held this year. I value the feedback that I get from students through my office and at the Open Forums that I hold. My Senior Management Team, senior staff and I attend as many Regional Campus events as possible, so we are also accessible in the region.
I welcome you most warmly to the USP Community once again, and wish you success in 2017.