Members of the 85th USP Council meeting which was held in Nadi, Fiji.
The 85th Council meeting of The University of the South Pacific (USP) was successfully held at the Tanoa International Hotel, Nadi, Fiji from 24 - 25 October 2017.
USP Council is the highest decision-making body of the University, and meets twice a year to discuss the affairs of the University and comprises the Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council, the Vice-Chancellor and President, representatives of the 12 member country governments, staff and students. One representative each from Australia and New Zealand are also part of the Council.
The two-day meeting was chaired by the Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council, Mr Winston Thompson.
Pro-Chancellor and Vice –Chancellor and President’s Reports
The Council noted the report from the Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council on activities undertaken since the report to the last Council meeting.
In his opening remarks, Mr Thompson requested Council members, especially Government members, to support and facilitate USP’s 50th anniversary in 2018 as well as two important transitions which were the recruitment of a new Vice-Chancellor and President and the development of a new Strategic Plan 2019-2024 as the current Strategic Plan 2016-2018 nears its end.
The Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Rajesh Chandra briefed the Council on the achievements of the University in the areas of Learning and Teaching, Student Support, Research and Internationalisation, Information and Communication Technology, Regional and Community Engagement, Governance, Management, Leadership and Continuous Improvement. The Council noted with appreciation the progress made by the University since its last meeting in May 2017.
Some of the key achievements highlighted by Professor Chandra, amongst others, included increase in enrolment, preparation of the Annual Plan 2018, accreditation and recognition of programmes, the implementation of USP’s current Strategic Plan 2013-2018, and process for developing the new Strategic Plan (2019-2024).
The Council noted an update on academic quality assurance and accreditation of the University.
The Council was informed by the Vice-Chancellor and President of the good progress on the increasing number of international accreditations and recognitions received by the University.
“USP now has 24 programmes internationally accredited and 8 recognised out of which 5 accreditations and 4 recognitions were received since the last Council meeting in May in Majuro, Marshall Islands,” Professor Chandra said.
He noted that the University had exceeded its Strategic Plan (2013 – 2018) target for international accreditations and recognitions.
The Council also noted the good progress on the WSCUC accreditation process.
The Solomon Islands Minister for Education, Human Resources and Development Honourable John Deane Kuku, signed the USP Convention on behalf of his Government. Solomon Islands has become the 10th USP member country to the sign the USP Convention. Tuvalu has attained Cabinet approval to sign and this will be facilitated shortly, making Tuvalu the 11th member country to sign the Convention.
The USP Convention is an agreement between member countries of USP which is aimed at legally embedding the University in member countries and supplementing the University’s founding legal instruments of the Royal Charter and Statutes. Legal opinion on the Charter indicates that the Charter is sufficient for the operation of the University in its member countries.
Samoa has already ratified the USP Convention and the University is expecting more ratifications in the coming months.
In this regard, the Kiribati Minister for Education Hon. David Collins confirmed that the Kiribati Cabinet had approved the ratification of the USP Convention and will send the Instrument of Ratification to the University. The Republic of the Marshall Islands – the Nitijela has also approved ratification and will send the Instrument of Ratification to the University in the next two weeks.
Progress on the implementation of Strategic Plan 2013-2018
The Council appreciated the good progress made on the implementation of the Strategic Plan 2013-2018 and encouraged the University to continue working on KPIs and initiatives that are yet to be accomplished.
Development of new Strategic Plan (SP) 2019-2024
The Council discussed the proposed vision, mission, core values priority areas and objectives which was developed through an established internal process and consultation. The Council noted the good progress made and approved the vision, mission, core values, priority areas and objectives, taking into account comments that were made by members. The Council noted that the Management could progress the draft further and agreed to have a workshop prior to the May 2018 Council meeting to renew and approve the additional elements of the new SP.
Annual Plan 2018
The Councilapproved the Annual Plan for 2018, with total income of $204.5m, total expenditure of $196.7m, and an operating surplus of $7.8m. It also approved the proposal for one-off additional contributions of $3m from member countries to fund the increased activity and key priorities during 2018.
The following programmes were instituted by the Council:
Diploma of Hospitality Management: Events, Food & Beverage and Front Office (Level 5)
Diploma of Culinary Arts and Management (Level 5)
Additionally, the Council also approved the assignment of hood colours for the University’s academic dress that were not previously assigned and the first reading (of 2 readings) of the amendment to the Statutes for the inclusion of Executive Director Pacific TAFE as an ex officio member of the Senate. Update of USP 50th Anniversary Preparation and launch of logo website, logo and theme
The Council noted a report from the 50th Anniversary Steering Committee on its work since the last Council meeting and noted the progress report from the 50th Anniversary Steering Committee as at 12 June 2017, and 50th Anniversary Calendar of Events and approved the 3-tiered funding acquisition approach proposed by the Committee.
The University’s special 50th Anniversary website was also launched as part of the Council meeting http://50.usp.ac.fj.During the launch, USP also made public its 50th logo and theme.
Other important discussions and outcomes of the 85th Council meeting is as follows:
Appointment of Ms Aloma Johansson as the Deputy Pro-Chancellor and Deputy Chair of the USP Council. Ms Johansson, who is from Tonga, is also the Chair of the Finance and Investments Committee;
The Council noted the report from the Finance and Investments Committee. The Council adopted the audited financial statements for half the year ending 30 June 2017. It noted the appointment of the Fiji National Provident Fund as a joint venture partner for commercial developments at the Laucala Campus;
The Council noted the report from the Audit and Risk Committee on its work since the last Council meeting and approved the Whistleblowing Policy and the Policy on Reporting and Investigating Fraud & Financial Irregularities;
The Council noted an update on the implementation HR reforms;
USP Student Association Federal Body report was also considered by Council and the following issues were highlighted:
Space congestion at Lautoka and Labasa Campuses;
Internet Connectivity and Bandwidth Management; and
Opportunities for regional students at USP for part-time work.
The next Council meeting will be held in Nauru towards the end of May 2018.
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