(left - right) Manager Learning Systems, Mr Dhiraj Bhartu, UCSIS Program Committee member from the University of Malta, Professor Lino Briguglio, UCSIS Consultant, Ms Denise Forrest, UCSIS Program Committee member from the University of Mauritius, Professor Virendra Proag, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Seychelles and Deputy Chair of Board of Trustees, Professor Marina Confait, the Vice-Chancellor and President of USP and the Chair of Board of Trustees, Professor Rajesh Chandra and the UCSIS Coordinator and International Secretariat Institute for Sustainable Development, Dr David Smith.
The University of the South Pacific hosted a meeting of the board of trustees of the University Consortium of Small Island States (UCSIS) on 24 July 2012.
The meeting of the Trustees was preceded by the Programmes Committee of the Board chaired by the Dean of the Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment, Dr Anjeela Jokhan and the IT Committee chaired by Mr Dhiraj Kumar Bhartu.
The UCSIS is a consortium of universities of small states which consists of the University of the West Indies, USP, Univerisad de las Palmas de Gran Canaria, University of Malta, University of Mauritius, University of Seychelles, University of Virgin Islands and has been formed to promote cooperation among south and south-east institutions.
Its initial objective has been to foster cooperation by developing and offering a masters programme in sustainable development in small states. Activities so far have been funded by the UN DESA from a grant made by the Government of Spain.
The meeting of the board was to review the work of the Programme Committee as well as the IT Committee and to review the proposed composition regulations and associated details of the Masters in Sustainable Development programme.
The Board was satisfied with the work of both the Programmes Committee and the IT Committee and agreed in broad terms with the outline with the structure of the proposed Masters programme.
It agreed that the beginning of the offering of the course would be that both the University of the West Indies and USP would seek approval from their respective committees for the institution of such a joint degree and each university would offer that programme in association with the other universities where appropriate.
While some issues remain to be worked out before this approval is sought, the board accepted a plan where both the University of the West Indies and USP would obtain their respective approval by October this year and begin to offer the programmes from the middle of next year.
The programme will be offered online with in-country support for thesis supervision. The Board was satisfied that the 80 platform is operational now and that the system would begin receiving materials from now onwards and test the system fully before the students begin to use the system for their programme.
The UCSIS Secretariat is located at the University of the West Indies for the first period and discussions will take place in terms of locating the Secretariat at USP after the programme has been launched.
The board also decided that UCSIS would renew its UNITWIN Agreement with UNESCO as this has provided a useful relationship where UNESCO has offered opportunities for UCSIS to promote its work at an important forum.
The meeting of the board of the trustees was chaired by the Vice-Chancellor and President of USP, Professor Rajesh Chandra who said that the UCSIS represents an important networking opportunity as well as an important capacity building opportunity for all of the universities of small island states.
“I am very pleased that USP’s playing a large role in this consortium. It is in the university’s interest to develop and enhance its linkages with universities in similar situations and the offer of a new degree Masters in Sustainable Development represents a new opportunity for USP to reach out beyond the Pacific Islands,” he added.
Professor Chandra thanked all the people involved from all the universities and the initial development work and the very detailed activities involved in getting the proposed degree organised to the point where it is ready to be considered for approval.
“It was a privilege for the University of the South Pacific to host this meeting with representatives of many universities in small island states and we look forward to enhancing this co-operative project,” he further mentioned.
The next meeting of the board is expected to be in February 2013.