Vice Chancellor’s Public Lecture on Higher Education in the Pacific – Trends and Issues
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Professor Rajesh Chandra, USP Vice-Chancellor and President during his public lecture at ANU.
A combination of scholars, academics, researchers, students, members of public, and an official from DFAT gathered to listen to a public lecture by Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President of The University of the South Pacific
(USP), who shared his insight on the subject of Higher Education in the Pacific – Trends and Issues.
This public lecture was held on the evening of Wednesday, 12 April 2017 at the at the Australian National University’s College of Asia and the Pacific’s Hedley Bull APCD Lecture Theatre and provided a platform for the audience to engage in discussion on how higher education in the Pacific can be leveraged.
Professor Chandra provided an overview of global trends in tertiary enrollments and how significantly this influences the creation of a modern knowledge society and compared this to the trends in the Pacific to signify that there is a need for broader investment in higher education to ensure that Pacific societies are positioned in a more intellectually strategic position to contribute towards the economic and social developments.
Professor Chandra stated that “in this knowledge and innovation driven, open and competitive global economy and society, knowledge is the key driver of economic and social development. The Pacific Islands are now firmly integrated in this global economy. They too need a strong foundation of knowledge to compete successfully and occupy a place of dignity in the international system”.
He added that “higher education, including tertiary education, is the foundation of this knowledge economy and society and therefore of competiveness, development and future success. This is as true for the Pacific as it is for Australia, New Zealand and the rest of the world.
The level of participation of Pacific Islanders in tertiary education lags far behind other countries and regions, hence the increasing focus of Pacific Island governments recently to improve their tertiary education development”.
This presentation examined the level of tertiary education in the Pacific Islands both in terms of gross enrolment ratios in tertiary education, the regional and national tertiary education architecture, and the major challenges facing tertiary education in the Pacific Islands relating to financing, access, relevance, employability, management, quality and research capabilities.
This is a relevant dialogue for all key stakeholders, including the regional Governments, national higher education institutions, regional tertiary education providers, development partners and other national and international non-state actors.
Professor Chandra reiterated that friends of the Pacific Islands, especially its closest development friends like Australia and New Zealand have an obligation to assist them raise the level, quality and relevance of tertiary education.
Responding to the queries from the audience, Professor Chandra said that USP is positioned very strategically to work with development partners, national governments, regional organisations and national institutions to promote quality higher education for the people of the Pacific.
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