USP delegation led by Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Rajesh Chandra (centre) and the First Assistant Secretary, Pacific Division, Mr Daniel Sloper with other senior officials from the DFAT Office in Canberra during the HLC.
A successful High Level Consultation (HLC) between The University of the South Pacific (USP) and Australia, its major development partner, was held at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) office in Canberra on Tuesday, 8 March 2016.
The objective of the meeting was for USP and DFAT to discuss progress toward the implementation of the USP-Australia Partnership; and deliberate on current strategic issues of mutual interest facing the Pacific region.
Australia has committed AUD $49 million for three and a half years beginning 2014, under the current partnership agreement with the University to support the implementation of the USP Strategic Plan 2013-2018.
The key focus areas of the Partnership include Learning and Teaching; Research and Internationalisation; Information Communications Technologies; Regional Campus Development; and Governance.
The Consultation was led by the First Assistant Secretary, Pacific Division, Mr Daniel Sloper and also included Assistant Secretary Dr Robert Christie and other senior DFAT officials.
Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Rajesh Chandra led the USP delegation that included Vice-President Administration (VPA), Dr Dilawar Grewal; Vice-President Regional Campuses and Properties & Facilities, Dr Giulio Paunga; Director Development, Marketing and Communications (DDMC), Mr Jaindra Karan; Director Pacific Technical and Further Education (PacTAFE), Mr Hasmukh Lal; and Manager Development, Mr Iresh Lal.
Mr Sloper warmly welcomed the USP delegates to the meeting and expressed Australia’s deep sympathy towards the people and Government of Fiji for the suffering and devastation caused by Tropical Cyclone Winston recently.
Mr Sloper stated that DFAT is satisfied with the progress that the University is making on the implementation of USP’s Strategic Plan 2013-2018 and of the USP-Australia Partnership; adding that the university is well placed to deal effectively with issues facing the Pacific region.
Special emphasis was drawn to the USP’s lead role in ICT in the Pacific region and the mandate from Pacific Leaders to investigate the establishment of a Regional ICT Advisory Council (RIAC).
The University delegation briefed DFAT officials on the outcomes of the review of USP’s regional campuses and key actions being planned to implement recommendations to ensure equity and quality at regional campuses.
Professor Rajesh Chandra said that Australia has continued to contribute significantly to the development of the Pacific region via means of higher education and research through its investment in the University.
He expressed gratitude for Australia’s valuable support towards the University since its inception in 1968 and further acknowledged that regular consultations provide the platform for a frank and open exchange of views.
“This serves to strengthen the University’s partnership with Australia and also enables meaningful dialogue related to issues facing the Pacific and identifying sustainable solutions,” Professor Chandra said.
“USP notes DFAT’s emphasis on effectiveness of aid and will continue to work relentlessly on outcomes and impact,” he added.
Besides the HLC, the USP delegation consulted with other sections of DFAT including the Innovation Xchange, Pacific Regional Branch, Pacific Melanesia Branch, New Colombo Plan Secretariat and the Development Policy Division.
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