From L-R: Professor Derrick Armstrong, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, Innovation and International; Mr Semi Tukana CEO, Software Factory; Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President and Professor Jito Vanualailai, Director Research with staff of RO and SF.
The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Research Office launched the Postgraduate Research Portal at the Laucala Campus on 13 September, 2017.
Developed by USP and Software Factory Limited, the portal provides a mechanism for communication between students and supervisors, schools, faculties and the Research Office from enrolment right through to graduation.
Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President congratulated all those involved in the development of the portal including staff of the Research office, Associate Deans and staff of Software Factory Limited, most of whom are USP alumni.
He explained that one of the early successes of the University was the creation of the research portal “and in many ways we now have one of the most sophisticated ways of recording and monitoring what happens in research”.
“Today we come together to celebrate the culmination of a journey that began some time ago where we felt that on the student side we needed to have a system that will create satisfaction and efficiency of completion, among others, that the research portal has delivered on the side of staff research,” Professor Chandra said.
He acknowledged the involvement of Software Factory saying that creating powerful a partnership with industry is a very important requirement of the success of the University.
“There are economic and financial advantages including the opportunity to be able to run multiple projects at any one time. I see the experience in working with Software Factory as a very positive move that will clear the way for us for other kinds of partnerships,” Professor Chandra stated.
He also urged a strong approach to the implementation of the research portal.
Mr Semi Tukana, Software Factory Chief Executive Officer said it had been a really complex project as far as his company is concerned.
“We have developed banking systems, superannuation systems and land information systems, among others but this one is new because it is not something that we are used to doing,” he said.
“It is complex because as we go about using the portal, behind it are decision engines communicating within the university and externally as well but I am delighted that this has come to fruition,” the USP alumni further remarked.
Explaining the involvement of this company, Mr Tukana said in 2014, there was a RO publication which showed that the completion rate for Masters and PhD students was 35 per cent and (9) per cent respectively.
“We were told that only ten (10) out of every 100 students that commence research projects at USP completed their research and there was a system needed to track the progress of each research project undertaken by a student.
“This has resulted in the development of this Postgraduate Research portal, a collaborative development in which both USP and Software Factory have invested heavily in,” he noted.
Professor Derrick Armstrong, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, Innovation and International stated it has been quite a journey over the last few years developing the portal and he acknowledged all those involved.
He said during the development stages, “we have had to go through a whole series of policy changes, it has been an opportunity to review the policies and procedures around postgraduate students, postgraduate supervision etc and a lot of changes has been made in developing the portal itself”.
“The research portal will make an enormous difference in the student experience first and foremost and clarify not only the sometimes daunting procedures but aid supervisors in the process,” Professor Armstrong noted.
He added, “We are going to be able to systematically monitor the performance of the university at global level and also work with faculties and schools and individual supervisors to iron out problems, identify issues and to work to support the progress of students”.
One of the great outcomes of the Research Portal initiative is the quality of the experience of students, their progress and the improvement of completion rates for the University as a whole.
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