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46 students graduate from USP’s Marshall Islands Campus

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Honourable Henry Puna, USP Chancellor and Prime Minister of Cook Islands confers a certificate to a graduate during the Marshall Islands graduation ceremony.

A total of forty six (46) students graduated from The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) Campus on 23 May 2017. This was the second graduation ceremony hosted by the RMI Campus, the first was in 2012.

The graduation ceremony immediately followed the official opening of the USP RMI Long Island Campus in Majuro.

Honourable Henry Puna, USP Chancellor and Prime Minister of Cook Islands conferred the certificates and degrees to the graduates.

Present to attend the graduation were Her Excellency Dr Hilda Heine, President of RMI; Chairman of the Council of Iroij and Traditional Leaders; Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council, Mr Winston Thompson and Mrs Queenie Thompson, Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Rajesh Chandra and Mrs Dharma Chandra; Honourable Ministers and Senior Officials of the RMI Government, Members of the Diplomatic Corps; Heads of International and Regional Organisations; members of USP Council, Senate and their Committees; USP’s Senior Management Team members; members of the Campus Advisory Council; other distinguished guests; and families and friends of graduands.

Her Excellency Dr Hilda Heine, President of RMI as part of her address to the graduates marveledat the long journey USP has taken in RMI saying the country owes much to those who took up the baton from the outset with unique determination, combined with talents and sheer dogged perseverance.

H.E Dr Heine congratulated the graduates saying “there is no victory more gratifying to this government, to the parents, and the people of our country”.

To the staff and administrators of the RMI Campus and the RMI USP Foundation Programme, she expressed her heartfelt gratitude for their teaching, guiding and nurturing the talent of the graduates. 

Education H.E Dr Heine said, remains a singular priority of my Government and the RMI Campus represents more than an investment in facilities. She said it is an investment in the “prime real estate”, our greatest resource - the people.

“That USP has been a significant contributor to the continuing realisation of this investment is, unquestionable. That it has responded, as it always has, in translating our aspirations and hopes into productive ends, is evidently clear.  This, in spite of its many commitments to its other member countries. We hope that this trend of increasing engagement with USP will continue to expand into the education sector itself,” H.E Dr Heine added.

H.E Dr Hilda Heine, President of the Republic of RMI delivers her address at the USP RMI graduation ceremony.

H.E Dr Heine said she is pleased to see that a part of the new campus facilities has been set aside to accommodate the Asian Development Bank (ADB) funded project: Improving the Quality of Basic Education grant though expanding its delivery of Early Childhood Education and the induction of teachers.

USP will be providing certificate training in Student Assessment, and also leadership training at the graduate level for school principals.

 “For too long now we have suffered much due to the lack of strong capacity building in the health and engineering sectors. Again this is not for lack of talent but due proper science, math and technology education throughout the years of schooling which stymies preparation in science at the Foundation and University level,” she noted.

H.E Dr Heine mentioned that USP’s ready response to the RMI Government’s direct request for innovation in shipping and transportation capacity building and policy assistance via the establishment of a Centre for Sustainable Transportation at this campus, is likewise, much appreciated.

She added they hoped that the RMI campus will not simply be a transitory station where students parade through over time in order to complete their course work, and then move on but that it be a powerhouse of practical and dynamic activities, relevant in purpose and productive in outcome for the Marshall Islands and those who call it home.

“Like most of our sister nations in the Pacific, we expect research, knowledge and understanding on how to address the pressing issues of Climate Change so that we can continue to call these islands our home – not in the nostalgic sense of a displaced person, but as a people actively developing and living in the country,” H.E Dr Heine said.

H.E Dr Heine hoped that the USP Campus will contribute to mitigation - and be a model of energy efficiency itself – to do its part to reducing emissions.

H.E Dr Heine also suggested that graduate outcomes must include qualities of loyalty and love for country, a sane patriotism that rises above self-interest and self-promotion.

“We hope for a citizenshipthat includes a strong connection to our land and culture and a sense of appreciation for what we have, and yet possesses a world embracing perspective and a confidence to engage with others,” she added.

Out of the total number of graduates, sixty-seven per cent (67%) were women. Forty-six per cent (46%) of all those graduating are from Pacific TAFE and nine per cent (9%) of the graduates received Postgraduate qualifications while three (3) students graduated with Master’s degree.

Students from five countries graduated during the ceremony with one student graduating from the University’s non-member country of South Africa.

While congratulating the graduands, Professor Chandra said they have made a fantastic achievement at the conclusion of one of the greatest chapters of their life. 

“The knowledge and experience you gained in your journey at the University these past years will have prepared you well to step into the work environment anywhere in the world,” Professor Chandra said.

Professor Chandra noted that seven (7) staff of the Marshall Islands Campus were among the graduates.

 “We are also delighted to note that Senator Daisy Momotaro (Jaliut Atoll) is also one of the graduates receiving her award today,” Professor Chandra said.

Talking about the University’s achievements, Professor Chandra highlighted that USP is currently in the fifth year of its current Strategic Plan (2013-2018), which is guiding the University in its quest to become an excellent institution that delivers outstanding results for the region.

USP’s current enrolment stands at around 27,000 demonstrating the recognition of its qualifications by everyone in the region and by people from outside the region who choose USP as their University.

“The value of the certificates, diplomas and degrees you will receive today has been increasing steadily as the University continues its efforts to improve its quality and reputation through international accreditations of its programmes,” Professor Chandra said.

Dr Heine addresses the USP RMI graduates during the RMI graduation ceremony in Majuro.

The University till date has achieved a total number of twenty (20) international accreditations and two (2) recognitions.

One of the recent accomplishments by USP students is the development of Braille Eye-Slate by Engineering Students. This project was shortlisted as one of the top 20 projects in the world in 2016 as part of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Young Engineers’ Humanitarian Challenge.

Talking about Marshall Islands Campus development, the Vice-Chancellor and President said that the Campus is currently working in collaboration with the Waikiki Aquarium to establish a coral conservation awareness programme.

The Campus, Professor Chandra added, has also coordinated activities and conducted research on drought prone atolls for agriculture initiative and is involved in the water harvesting projects, solar water desalination, youth training for sustainable agriculture and the Summer Science Camp.

The Marshall Islands Campus is in a collaborative project with three (3) Universities from the United Kingdom, namely, Edinburgh, Bath Spa and Bangor University, to provide logistical support to a research project called: From displacement to development: arts education as a means to build cultural resilience and community.

Another project with the Campus has been developed at the initiative of the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art. 

The aim of this project is to involve a group of expert jaki-ed weavers who have been involved with the Weaving Programme of the Marshall Islands Campus.

The project which starts in September this year will exchange valuable knowledge and skills, explore meaningful concepts and ideas and create new and innovative works that will be displayed at the 9th Asia Pacific Triennial in November 2018 at Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane.

Professor Chandra highlighted that 2018 will mark a very important milestone in the history of the University as USP will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary and invited everyone to be part of this exciting event that will celebrate the University’s achievements and regionality.


This news item was published on 24 May 2017 08:54:29 am. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email

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