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USP VC & President welcomes staff & students for 2017 academic year

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Professor Rajesh Chandra has welcomed all staff & students to the 2017 academic year.

Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President of The University of the South Pacific (USP) has extended a warm welcome to continuing and new students and staff to the New Year.

He also extended a special welcome to students with disability and assured them of the University’s support in their studies.

“I hope that you are, as I am, starting the new year refreshed and determined to carry out your work with increased vigour  and in particular to complete Strategic Plan implementation on schedule.   In 2016, we achieved many things, but much remains to be done and we have two years remaining in the SP to accomplish that,” he told staff.

Professor Chandra acknowledged staff for their hard work saying USP is an institution that is markedly more flexible, resilient, and innovative than ever before.  

He stated that continuous improvement is one of USP’s core values, so staff should start 2017 thinking about how they can be more effective, efficient and sustainable.

“We will measure our results at the end of the year based on how much progress we record against our goal of achieving excellence by 2018,” he noted.

USP he said, is engaged in a fundamental re-engineering of its systems in finance, human resources, IT and Student Services to make them more effective, efficient, less bureaucratic, more intelligent, and comparable to the best universities in the world.

“There is digital disruption everywhere globally on an unprecedented scale. We at USP need to harness the power of digitization and artificial intelligence as an intelligent, knowledge institution. As we make progress in these areas—and we need to speed up this work—we will see a smarter, friendly and user-centred USP,” he noted.  

Professor Chandra said, “we are facing formidable challenges as we near the end of the current Strategic Plan. As we take inspiration from USP’s mission statement, we must look at our own work and ask whether it is the best, or all, that we can do”.

“I am anticipating another very successful year for USP, and look forward to your role in helping to achieve our Strategic Plan goals.  We have a lot to be proud of already but we have to deliver more,” he added.

To students, Professor Chandra said they are a large and diverse group, reflecting USP’s wonderful regional character and diversity.

“We are all wholeheartedly committed to and focused on our core mission, that is ensuring your academic success and giving you the best possible university experience for your lifelong success,” he said.

Students enrolled this year, as in the past, are not only from USP member countries but other countries as well representing different cultures. Professor Chandra noted that USP has again achieved yet another year of increased enrollments in 2017 and this reflects the fact that access to tertiary education is being taken up seriously.

He was pleased to note that students had chosen USP as their University for your further education. USP he said, is making its high-quality education more readily accessible, and is in continuous process of modernising its campuses throughout the region. 

He mentioned that the new and refurbished campuses make it easier for Pacific Islanders to study in their home country; the increased space of modern, purpose-built facilities, better ICT, and more programme and course choices with additional face-to-face tutorials make the Regional Campuses a great option for students who either cannot come to the Laucala campus or do not wish to do so. 

USP students he said, come from a wide range of backgrounds and circumstances and that is one of the benefits of the USP experience. 

“You will learn so much from each other.  I urge you to make sure that you mix with as diverse a group as possible; eat together; toss a rugby or netball around together, and of course study together. 

“You will find that you have more in common than you ever expected, and you will also be surprised at the different ways that people think and live in our Member Countries and overseas,” he said.

He advised students to learn as much as they can from each other informally or through Campus Life activities, and then take these new perspectives and apply them to their classroom learning. 

Campus Life activities are open to all students, regardless of location or mode of study, and include a wide range of beneficial and enjoyable offerings, including career counselling, leadership and entrepreneurship advice, health and wellness services, and sports and social activities.  These activities and services add a great deal of value to the USP experience.  

Professor Chandra noted that 2017 is particularly important for the University as it is coming to the conclusion of its roadmap to Excellence. 

USP he said, has been working very hard over the past four years to ensure that, by its 50th Anniversary in 2018, the University is to become an outstanding institution, recognised globally for our high academic standards, regionally-relevant research, and significant contributions made to regional development. 

“One of our indicators of success is quality through accreditation and recognition of our programmes. As of this month, 18 of our programmes have been internationally accredited/recognized,” he noted.

He further stated that this “stamp of quality” indicates to employers and educational institutions overseas that their USP qualification is demonstrably comparable to that of other fine international universities. 

In terms of the global political and economic situations, he mentioned that world affairs impact USP’s work as a university and may “colour your individual experience as a tertiary student”. 

He said international relations dominate the news these days, and the uncertainty in the diplomatic sphere and international markets will permeate our region but this should not negatively impact them.

“Rather, try to observe, learn from your observations, and draw your own conclusions.  I hope that you will maintain your focus on your studies and be confident in the fact that you, through your coursework, research, and social activities, are developing the values, ambition, creativity, and flexibility that are required to succeed after graduation,” he said.

“Intellectual curiosity, integrity, and cross-cultural competencies are attributes that we expect our graduates to have, and so we expect you to be knowledgeable of and engage with the wider world. 

“There will always be changes that we must face.  You can be sure that you are in the right place for an excellent education that will set you up well to manage changes adeptly and for career success,” he advised.

Professor Chandra also said that as Pacific Islanders and valued guests in the case of others, they were urged to be strong voices for issues that impact our region, and to challenge the rest of the world to understand and empathise with Pacific Islanders as we face the results of Climate Change.

“More than that, all of us together must find ways to urge the world to action.  As students, and future leaders, you are best placed to be the voice for our region and to present our concerns to the world’s future leaders who are students like you,” he added.  

This news item was published on 15 Feb 2017 03:35:44 pm. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email

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