Fiji’s Attorney General and Minister for Economy, Public Enterprises, Civil Service and Communications Honourable Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum delivering his keynote address.
The University of the South Pacific (USP) held its 2017 Open Day at the main Laucala Campus including at its Lautoka, Labasa, Kiribati and Solomon Islands campuses on Friday 28 July, 2017.
Fiji’s Attorney General and Minister for Economy, Public Enterprises, Civil Service and Communications Honourable Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum officially launched the ceremony at the main Laucala campus, urging students to choose their careers wisely.
He told students they are in demand as universities are competing to get them saying USP might offer some courses or programmes that the others do not offer and vice-versa.
“You have three universities to choose from so please make the right choice. But I urge you to choose an area of study that you feel passionate about, something that you are interested in as an individual.
“If you choose the course that you are passionate about you will excel in it. You have an opportunity to get a good career path in that profession,” he emphasised.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the Fiji Government is keen to ensure that every single citizen old enough to be able to go to school can actually attend school.
“A couple of years ago we made schooling free in Fiji so that no child from kindergarten to year 13 has an excuse not to go to school as all fees are paid for,” he stated.
Touching on the Fiji Government’s Toppers scholarship he explained that it is based on selective areas of study.
“It is a well-known fact that today in Fiji we have a shortage of doctors, engineers, nurses, counsellors, marine scientists, foresters, town planners, surveyors and other professions from science-based subjects, so the Toppers scholarship is secured for science-based subjects.
“Predominantly 70—80 per cent of the scholarships are given in those areas and if you are eligible for a Toppers scholarship you will get it. Government pays for all your entire expenses and you do not have to pay it back. That is a privilege of being a topper,” he told students.
High school students take time out for a photo with Fiji’s Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and Professor Rajesh Chandra, USP Vice-Chancellor & President.
“If however you do not get a scholarship but still get a place in the University and you cannot afford to pay university fees, Government also pays it for you through the Tertiary Education Loan Scheme (TELS).
“You do not pay the loan back until you get employment and when you do get employed, the pay back is done on a gradual basis and deducted at source by FIRCA. So every single individual today Fiji that leaves high school has the ability to attend university as long as they get a place in the university,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum stated.
On the Fiji Government’s assistance, he confirmed that the education sector has been allocated a total of $964.4m, almost a billion dollars in the 2017-2018 budget.
“What we have also done is that under TELs, we will now allow you access it even though you are repeating because we understand that people are unable to complete a particular course due to some social issues,” he noted.
“We have also increased allowances under TELS, previously only if you are a topper you get book allowances and incidental allowances. Now under TELS you can also get $1000 per annum; $500 per semester or 330 per trimester to get this assistance to be able to help you with other incidentals. We also give you allowances during the semester breaks.
“And for those of you who decide today to pursue a diploma or certificate when you leave year 13 and want to proceed to the next level, will also be eligible for TELS,” he confirmed.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said Government is doing this because they want to encourage all students to get that qualification, “that is Government’s objective because we believe that we need to invest in our human resources”.
“No country will ever become strong if the citizens of that country do not have the right level of qualifications. Our economy has been growing for the past eight years successively consecutively. In order for us to capture that economic growth and ensure that we keep growing we need the right people in the right positions to do the right thing,” he added.
Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President of USP said the Open Day theme, “USP – Shaping your Future” truly reflects the role that USP plays in equipping our students with knowledge, competencies, skills and attributes for life-long success.
“We believe that USP programmes are of the highest quality, offer best value, and give the best chance for success at work, in life, as leaders and lifelong learners.
Students attending the opening ceremony of the 2017 USP Open Day at the Laucala Campus.
“What distinguishes USP from other providers of higher education is its quality and international accreditations and recognition of its programmes. This means that programmes offered by us are just as good as those offered by universities in Australia, New Zealand, and elsewhere, but our programmes cost much less and are contextualised to the Pacific,” he mentioned.
The University now has a total of 22 programmes that have international accreditation and four international recognitions.
Professor Chandra told students that if they decided to enroll at USP, there will be many more programmes that will have international accreditations by the time they graduate as the University continues to strive for accreditations for all of its programmes and courses.
He said apart from our three faculties, USP offers skills based qualifications through its Pacific Technical and Further Education (Pacific TAFE) which has grown rapidly in the last four years.
“Our graduates have a high employability rate. Last year, 72 per cent of our graduates were in full time employment four months after their graduation. We are only 2 per cent behind in terms of full time employment of graduates from Australian Universities,” he said.
Professor Chandra added that USP is responding to the call by Fiji and its other member countries for more skills training and pathway programmes that allow pathways to students to undertake higher education.
“University life however, is about an all-round learning development and USP is a strong believer of balancing academic life with extracurricular activities,” he added.
Professor Chandra also acknowledged the Fiji Government’s allocation of $30.7m to USP in the 2018 national budget.
This news item was published on 28 Jul 2017 12:22:54 pm. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email email@example.com