Professor Rajesh Chandra, USP Vice-Chancellor and President, delivers his address during the staff forum.
The years 2017 and 2018 are absolutely crucial for the success of The University of the South Pacific (USP) says the University Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Rajesh Chandra.
Professor Chandra shared this message with the University’s staff during the Vice-Chancellor and President’s first staff forum for 2017 on 21 April at USP’s Laucala Campus.
He noted that a number of things at the University will come to end by December 2018 and these are: the University’s current Strategic Plan (2013-2018); funding from member governments; and USP’s partnership with Australia and New Zealand.
“All of the claims that are necessary for the University to exist and prosper will need to be renewed,” Professor Chandra said.
Next year, the University will also be celebrating its 50th Anniversary. Preparations for the milestone achievement have begun and the Pro-Chancellor and Chair of USP Council, Mr Winston Thompson is chairing the 50th Anniversary Steering Committee.
For the 50th Anniversary Celebrations, Professor Chandra said that the University community will not only be “celebrating our past but also preparing for the future.”
“The anniversary is a good occasion to reflect and celebrate what we have achieved and the University will be very proud of what it has been able to achieve in 50 years when it celebrates next year,” Professor Chandra said.
This year has had some early successes that give an indication we will end the year on a high note. Some of these include: enrolment, which is better than expected; research outcomes continue to be above target; and on the Learning and Teaching front, USP had a very successful roll out of its tablet and lecture capture project.
Talking about staff reclassification, Professor Chandra pointed out that around 40-50% of the staff is research active. The reclassification, he added, alters future staff performance in a very dramatic way.
The Vice-Chancellor and President said that he had a very successful partnership meeting with Australia last week with positive indications given by Australia for the funding for the remaining period of current partnership. The University officials will be travelling to Wellington next week to have high level consultation with the Government of New Zealand.
Professor Chandra informed that USP is in discussion with New Zealand and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for funding the revamp of the USPNet Project. The project, he added, will see a complete revamp of USPNet.
He added that there was a need to upgrade the USPNet infrastructure with the life of the old satellite dish going beyond fifteen years since its last upgrade in 1999.
University staff during the staff forum at Japan-Pacific ICT Multipurpose Theatre.
In terms of regional campus development, Professor Chandra said that the design of the new Solomon Islands Campus is well on track.
The new Campus in Solomon Islands is expected to be completed by 2018, so that it becomes one of the legacies of the University’s 50th Anniversary celebrations.
The Marshall Islands Campus will be officially opened during USP’s Council Meeting in May. The Nauru Campus development will be completed this year.
Professor Chandra provided an update on the queries raised by staff in the last forum in October last year which include:
Provision of five year contracts – the University has agreed with the union formally that it will introduce this, subject to changes in ordinance. This will initially be limited to academic staff and as soon as probation is worked out, it will open up to professional staff as well. This proposal will go to Council for further discussions;
Intellectual property policy – this is out for consultations and should be finalised soon;
Quality of research – this was implemented in the last staff review and the quality of teaching will be made a compulsory element of staff review this time; and
Computer vendor for the University is now Dell.
The Vice-Chancellor and President and relevant members of the Senior Management Team provided responses to the following issues raised during the staff forum:
1. Recognition of and new salary scales of professional staff;
2. Improvement of Student Evaluation of Courses;
3. Restrictions on social media;
4. Cross credit of courses;
5. Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with employers for graduates; and
6. Restructure of Properties and Facilities
More than 200 staff of the University attended the forum.
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