Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Rajesh Chandra (centre) with the ADB Executive Director Mr Won-Mok Choi (second from right) during his courtesy call at USP Campus in Laucala.
The Executive Director of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Mr Won-Mok Choi made a courtesy call to The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Rajesh Chandra at the Laucala Campus on 16 June 2016.
Mr Choi is the newly-appointed Executive Director of the ADB, for the constituency of the Republic of Korea, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, Taipei China, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu and Vietnam.
Professor Chandra extended a warm welcome to Mr Choi saying USP looked forward to working with him and the ADB and wished to further strengthen their relationship.
During their discussion, Mr Choi expressed interest in the membership of the University, querying why Papua New Guinea (PNG), which falls under his constituency, is not a part of the University.
Professor Chandra pointed out that PNG is not a member because it had universities of its own when USP was established, while the others did not have any university.
“We have a tertiary landscape that allows for the existence of national institutions,” he said.
He further noted that there has been some discussion about the possibility of other island countries joining the University, including PNG.
“PNG has put in a formal request to join and the Council has endorsed it but we have a formal mechanism on how to admit new members and that will be followed,” he said.
Apart from this, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and Palau have also expressed interest in joining the University.
Mr Choi also expressed his keen interest in knowing about USP’s Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) stating that in many countries there is no linkage between education and the labour market.
The ADB, he affirmed “is now focusing on this issue which is why they are very supportive of TVET.”
Deputy Vice-Chancellor Learning & Teaching Professor Richard Coll, who was also part of the discussions, explained that USP’s TVET programmes certificate level courses are offered by the Pacific Technical and Further Education (Pacific TAFE).
“It is a good model for second chance learners seeking pathways to degree programmes and those working for in-service professional development. The growth has been spectacular,” Professor Coll said.
Professor Coll further confirmed that all Pacific TAFE’s programmes go through the normal Senate approval, while there is also an ambitious accreditation programme for USP.
Mr Choi was also briefed on the various modes of learning for students including flexible learning and summer school.
Professor Chandra assured Mr Choi and ADB that the University is working on improving the USPNet.
He stated that USP wants to work with ADB to facilitate the implementation of the Pacific Island Forum leader’s decision regarding ICT as a game-changer and transformer with USP being the lead regional agency in this.
“We want to work with ADB as part of the CROP working group,” Professor Chandra noted.
Professor Chandra mentioned that USP is now a 48 year old institution and a huge record for the University is that unlike some organisations which have lost members, USP has gained one and potentially three more in the next few years.
“Apart from this, no Government has defaulted in its contribution. USP is the only regional organisation that is funded significantly by member countries,” Professor Chandra said.
He also requested for support from ADB in getting the Pacific Centre for Economic Policy and Modelling off the ground.
“We have also been working with ADB on the organisation of the Pacific Update and that is going well,” Professor Chandra added.
Mr Choi was also informed about the existence of the Australian Government-funded Pacific Islands Centre for Public Administration.
The development of the University’s new Campus proposed for the Solomon Islands is being funded by the ADB including USP’s new campus in Kiribati, which was opened last year.
The meeting ended on a very positive note.
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