The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration and Regional Campuses) Dr Esther Williams and the Lautoka Campus Director, Dr Pramila Devi tour the displays during the Open Day in Lautoka.
The city of Lautoka in the Western Division of Fiji was abuzz with activities as thousands of people attended the University of the South Pacific’s Open Day held by its Lautoka Campus on 10 -11 August, 2012.
Apart from Lautoka, the annual event took place simultaneously at the Labasa and the main Laucala campus as well as in regional campuses located in Vanuatu, Samoa, Kiribati and Nauru.
It was a very colorful and carnival-like atmosphere as students and people from all walks of life flocked to Shirley Park in Lautoka to make the most of this popular 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 programmes and courses by engaging in one-on-one chat with academics and other support staff as well as talking to current USP students.
The event featured brilliant displays and demonstrations by the three faculties of the University – 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, Student Academic Services, Distance and Flexible Learning, Continuing and Community Education and the College of Foundation Studies. The USP Book Centre and USP Student Association were also present.
This year’s Open Day was organised on a more comprehensive scale and for the first time ever was conducted over two days to make it convenient for working-class-people to attend.
Participants were kept thoroughly entertained with multi-cultural items by students of USP and Jasper Williams High School and live broadcast by the Lautoka Campus media partner, Mix FM.
The Chief Guest at the Lautoka Campus Open Day was the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration and Regional Campuses), Dr Esther Williams who emphasized that 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 continue to grow.
“We have managed to record a 10 percent increase. We now have over 20,000 students studying at 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.
According to Dr Williams, a new Campus Development Plan is currently being developed which also includes a new Lautoka Campus that is expected to begin in 2013.
She revealed that significant capital expenditure allocation had taken place in 2011 and 2012 and will continue in 2013 and beyond with a new campus to commence in Kiribati later this year.
Dr Williams explained that there has been a decisive improvement in student engagement and services as a new student federation and leadership with a new governance structure involving students in all the campuses were in place.
The Lautoka Campus Director, Dr Pramila Devi said the Campus took a bold step this year to host the Open Day over two days.
“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 commitments cannot attend on a normal day,” she added.
Other organisations that also participated in the event included PSC Scholarship Unit, iTaukei Scholarship Unit, Ministry of Health, Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF),FICAC, Vodafone Fiji Limited, Digicel Group, Punjas, Superb Distributors, Aqua Pacific, Pops, BSP, BSP Life, Westpac, LICI, Courts, South Sea Cruises, VanMed Lab and Downtown Restaurant.