USP and the Vanuatu Government held a successful meeting in Vila on 22 August, 2017.
The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council, Mr Winston Thompson and Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President, visited Vanuatu as part of their engagement with USP’s Emalus Campus and the Government.
A highlight of this visit was a meeting with the Honorable Charlot Salwai, Prime Minister of Vanuatu and Honorable Jean Pierre Nirua, Minister for Education and Training and their senior officials at the Ramada Resort in Port Vila, on 22 August 2017.
On behalf of the Government of Vanuatu, Hon. Salwai welcomed the USP delegation, congratulating them for the successful management of USP and the good relationship between USP and Vanuatu.
“Vanuatu will continue to be a member of USP and our financial support continues to take priority, demonstrating the importance of the University to Vanuatu,” he reassured.
Hon. Salwai articulated the needs of the country in higher education and narrated the collective aspirations for USP to respond to these favourably.
He suggested that the Emalus Campus, where USP’s School of Law is based, go beyond law adding that education is the future and reiterated that the Vanuatu Government is fully committed to USP.
The two parties discussed important issues and developments especially in light of USP’s Council decision in November 2016, on enhanced face-to-face teaching at Emalus campus.
Hon. Nirua thanked the USP delegation reaffirming that the University and Vanuatu enjoy a good relationship and “we have witnessed fantastic developments taking place with more yet to come”.
With regards to enhanced face-to-face teaching at Emalus Campus, the Minister acknowledged challenges that will soon be ironed out including the delay in Government’s financial support to the Pacific Islands Legal Information Institute (PacLII). He also informed the meeting of his ministry’s support towards the University’s 50th anniversary celebrations next year.
Mr Thompson thanked the Prime Minister for availing himself and commended Vanuatu for taking advantage of the many educational opportunities that are available.
According to Mr Thompson, one of the challenges USP faces in Vanuatu is the limitation in bandwidth, owing largely to the country having high telecommunication rates, adding that “improved connectivity will be good for the country and USP.”
USP, he said is looking at ways to improve the connectivity at Emalus Campus to ensure services are cost-effective. He also noted that the 50th Anniversary is an opportunity for each campus to showcase its achievements and aspirations.
Professor Chandra thanked the Prime Minister and his team for the opportunity to discuss relevant issues and thanked the Government for their support towards the University.
In terms of face-to-face teaching at Emalus Campus, Professor Chandra assured that “next year USP will expand further within our constraints”.
Professor Chandra highlighted that from 2018 all lectures captured in Laucala will be made available to Emalus, other campuses and vice-versa, meaning that the need for face-to-face teaching will be reduced and delivery made more cost-efficient.
On USP’s 50th anniversary celebrations, Professor Chandra said the event is for countries to “mark ownership and achievements of the University and it is up to Governments to think how best to celebrate”.
The Vanuatu Government was also requested to consider bilateral funding for the following:
1. Major lecture theatre - for public lectures, conferences and an examination arena;
2. A larger better-equipped science laboratory – to cater for increasing needs and higher level delivery;
3. A larger library - as existing library is already inadequate; and
4. A purpose-built gym - This will be a major fitness facility for the increasing number of students and should also accommodate public use.
The meeting presented an opportunity for the University’s leaders to hear and discuss a range of issues with the Vanuatu Government, as part of a continued high-level engagement with Vanuatu authorities.
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