USP making good progress: Vice-Chancellor and President
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Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President of USP during the 83rd Council meeting.
The University of the South Pacific (USP) is putting emphasis on accreditation, placing students at the centre of its operations and making good progress with its regional campus developments, said Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President of USP.
He made the comment while presenting his report to the 83rd Council meeting of USP at Suva’s Holiday Inn on 3 November 2016.
“Generally, we have been making good progress and we are on a good foundation for the next round of our development,” he stated.
Professor Chandra commented that the University is making reasonable progress, the implementation of its Annual Plan is satisfactory and its budgetary performance is being dealt with in more detail and is better than expected.
“A very significant element of achievement has been the granting of two patents from the School of Engineering. The Pacific Technical and Further Education (Pacific TAFE) and the Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment (FSTE) have really stood out,” Professor Chandra said.
Another major achievement is the signing of the loan agreement for the Asian Development Bank’s funding of USP’s new Solomon Islands Campus, he said.
“Our engagement with member countries is excellent and we continue to make progress on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) connectivity,” he stated.
Professor Chandra said bold decisions like the restructure of Properties and Facilities section and the outsourcing of USP’s mailroom, are imperative in order for the University to position itself for quality and sustainability.
Speaking on the latest decision by USP to implement Senate’s endorsement of the de-registration of students who owe fees, Professor Chandra said while that has been deferred, the realisation is out there that USP cannot sustain the increase in student debt that seems to be added every year.
He confirmed this was the firm decision by the Finance and Investments Committee and the Senior Management Team.
Professor Chandra also commended the new Engineering lab which was opened by Dr Mahendra Reddy, Fiji’s Minister for Education, Heritage and Arts and National Archives.
With regards to Pacific TAFE, he said the section continues to have a lot of their programmes internationally accredited.
“The most significant achievement is that it has been registered in Australia as a Registered Training Organisation and it did so with the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) accreditation for one of its programmes, which is Certificate IV in Project Management Practice”.
“This means it can insert in the certificate the fact that ASQA has approved this programme and with that it can put it in all the other programmes for accreditation in due course. Pacific TAFE is making excellent progress,” he added.
With reference to Arts, Culture and Pacific identity, he said, “we continue to excel and the recruitment by the Hollywood Disney & Moana movie of Pasifika Voices gives us an international stage to demonstrate our capabilities”.
He emphasised that student engagement remains strong and he is proud of the fact that the relationship between students and University management remains very progressive.
In the area of research, Professor Chandra said USP continues to make good progress adding that a very fundamental change that has occurred is the implementation of the Quality of Research policy.
“The Strategic Research Themes (SRT) are working much better now than they did before and we are keeping the number of students registered in research Masters and PhD fairly stable at the moment,” he added.
In ICT, Professor Chandra said USP continued to make reasonably good progress on the improvement to the USPNet system.
USP, he said is working with the New Zealand Government to upgrade USPNet.
On regional engagement, he said apart from the final agreement signing for the new campus for Solomon Islands, the renovation works to convert the Long Island Hotel to USP as its new Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI) Campus are on track.
As for Nauru, the Phase 2 of Learning Village groundbreaking ceremony took place in August and for the Kiribati, USP is working with the Ministry of Line and Phoenix Islands Development for the possibility of a new Centre on Christmas Island.
He confirmed that the Tuvalu Government has made available a new piece of land for USP campus and has also requested USP to consider taking over the running of the Tuvalu Maritime Institute.
“Apart from doing our work as a University, USP being part of the Council of Regional Organisations of the Pacific (CROP) process also engages in a significant amount of work which is non-university learning and teaching and essentially trying to participate in the broader regional mechanism,” he added.
He concluded by mentioning that it is now time for USP to start looking ahead as the University’s development partnerships are coming to an end in 2018 with its Anniversary.
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