Pacific Islands Countries diplomats and members of USP’s SMT following the briefing this morning.
The University of the South Pacific (USP) held its first briefing session with the Pacific Island Countries (PICs) diplomats, based in Fiji on 22 July 2016.
Its main purpose was to inform PICs Diplomats on the progress made by the University in terms of achieving outcomes and indicators outlined in the USP Strategic Plan (2013-2018).
Diplomats who attended the briefing included Mr Vilikesa Naivalucava, Charge De’ Affaires in the Roving Ambassador’s Division at Fiji Ministry of Foreign Affairs; His Excellency Mr John Patteson Oti, Solomon Islands High Commissioner; Ms Lorraine Taulima, First Secretary at the Tuvalu High Commission; and His Excellency Mr Emmanual Blessings, Charge de’ Affaires at Vanuatu High Commission.
USP was represented by the Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Rajesh Chandra, the Senior Management Team and Director Development, Marketing, Communications and Alumni Mr Jaindra Karan and his staff.
Professor Chandra welcomed the Diplomats and expressed his appreciation in their efforts to attend. He also expressed gratitude to USP’s member countries “because they remain completely rock solid in their support towards the University”.
“I take considerable pride in reminding our colleagues in other regional agencies that in the 48 years of USP, no Government has ever reneged in their contribution,” he said.
He noted this as an indication that the countries value their regional University and also gives USP the confidence that it is delivering value for the resources that are entrusted to it.
Professor Chandra made mention of the fact that USP is currently working with the Government of Papua New Guinea to finalise a Memorandum of Understanding with regards to their application for membership during the last Council meet.
Mr Karan highlighted the University’s key achievements, saying there had been an increase in the 2015 enrolment by 3.2 per cent and further noted that as of 19 July 2016, the total headcount stood at 29,328.
“As at 31 December 2015, USP is largely on track in terms of Strategic Plan implementation. This is particularly impressive given that work is also being done on extra initiatives that do not form part of the Plan,” he noted.
Among other key achievements mentioned were the establishment of over 45,000 diverse group of USP alumni, stronger sense of partnership, collaboration and support from Development Partners of USP for instance the recent 2016 Pacific Update Conference, successful High Level Consultations (HLC) with Australia and New Zealand and the international accreditation of 16 USP programmes.
The diplomats were also updated on the development of the regional campuses including the:
• Expected project completion of the new Solomon Islands campus by end of 2018;
• Recent signing of the Deed of Assignment with the Republic of Marshall Islands to initiate all renovation works on the piece of land at Long Island;
• Installation of a fence around the new Kiribati campus to determine the paremetres;
• Award of Tender (AUD 5.47m) finalised by the Government of Nauru for the construction of the Learning Village;
• Lease agreement being legally vetted following the Tuvalu Government’s offer of 0.2 acre of land for further development of the USP Tuvalu campus; and
• Contract awarded for the preparation of a concept design for the proposed development of the Tonga campus.
Professor Chandra noted that the real challenge for the regional campuses is not only to see what is being delivered but to ensure the quality and equity of the services offered.
With regards to USP’s Mid Term Review of the Strategic Plan, the diplomats were informed that further work is being done including the reconsideration of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Respective sections are working towards reviewing their contributions towards the implementation of the Strategic Plan Priority Areas.
Diplomats were also informed that there has been a steady progress on EDF11 and USP is involved in all 5 Priority Areas (Capacity Building components) and working closely as part of Working Groups to prepare action documents. On the EU Pillar Assessment, USP passed six of seven EU Pillars assessed, with the exception of the new Sub-Delegation Pillar.
Mr Karan also informed the diplomats of the recent successful HLC in Australia and New Zealand, saying that both countries have high confidence in USP.
One such example is the continuation of the Pacific Islands Centre for Public Administration (PICPA) and the Pacific Islands Legal Information Institute (PACLII) which are both funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
The diplomats were also briefed on the outcomes of the 82nd Council meeting which included the approved funding arrangements for the new Solomon Islands Campus; approved establishment of a University Trust Fund; and the institution of three new programmes, one of which is the Certificate IV in Fisheries, Enforcement and Compliance. Professor Chandra said this certificate is an excellent example of regional agencies working together.
On the CROP ICT Working Group, Professor Chandra said it has been significantly strengthened with new members that now include the Australian and NZ Government, the Asian Development Bank, World Bank, representatives of the private sector, leading ICT service providers, member countries (Forum Troika and SIS) and representatives of the civil society.
On behalf of the Fijian Government, Mr Naivalucava commended USP for the initiative in organising the session. He expressed the Fiji Government’s appreciation to the University for maintaining its role as a regional education agency and ‘we look forward to seeing you extending your footprints to other countries within the region”.
“Also we look forward to the University’s continuance of its tailor-made programmes in terms of higher quality education in the region,” he added. Ms Taulima thanked USP for the opportunity to have the meeting and congratulated the University on the achievements made. HE Oti echoed the sentiments and thanked USP for its continued support over the years.
The next briefing will be held before the USP Council sits in November.
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