H.E Major-General Jioji Konrote, USP Chancellor & President of Fiji with one of the graduates during the graduation ceremony in Tonga.
Forty-two (42) students of The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Tonga Campus received their degrees, diplomas, and certificates during the graduation ceremony on 21 October, 2017, of which sixty (60) per cent were females.
One student was from Pacific Technical and Further Education, 13 graduated from Foundation Studies, 21 students from undergraduate programmes and seven (7) graduated with Postgraduate qualifications, including 3 with the degree of Masters.
His Excellency Major-General Jioji Konusi Konrote, USP Chancellor and President of Fiji, congratulated the graduates saying all their hard work and sacrifices had paid off and they are now considered an intellectual, qualified young men and women who have the world at their finger-tips.
“With your qualifications, you have every opportunity to excel in life. Your qualifications will be a game-changer not only for yourselves, but also for your families, your communities and your country,” he said.
H.E Konrote advised the graduates that they all can lead at the local, national or even at the international levels.
“And you certainly can use your newfound knowledge to bring greater prosperity to your families,” he urged.
He also extended his heartfelt gratitude to all those who supported the graduates’ journey including, family, friends and loved ones.
H.E Konrote also used the opportunity to state how much he looked forward to strengthening the relationship and friendship between the peoples of our nations throughout the Pacific.
“This is vitally important because we are increasingly challenged to deal with issues that directly affect our islands and our peoples.
“Issues like climate change that absolutely knows no boundaries. The rising sea-level has already started to affect all our low-lying countries not only here in the Pacific, but also around the world,” he added.
In his address, Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor & President welcomed the Chancellor, H.E Konrote and Honorable Samuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva, Prime Minister and invited guests and graduates and their families to the ceremony.
Congratulating the graduates, Professor Chandra said they had done exceptionally well and their graduation concluded the achievement of a major milestone in their lives – “one that will fundamentally change your life and increase the chance of lifelong success anywhere in the world”.
“Today, you really deserve to celebrate. You all have worked hard, sacrificed and persevered. You now join over 51, 608 USP alumni worldwide. You also join 1966 fellow Tongans who have graduated from USP,” he stated.
Professor Chandra reminded the graduates to thank those who had supported them in their journey including their parents & families, sponsors, lecturers and tutors without whose support they would not have made it.
He also urged them to maintain their links with their university through the Alumni network.
Speaking about the University’s achievements, Professor Chandra announced that USP is currently in the fifth year of its current Strategic Plan, which aims to steer the University towards becoming an excellent institution that delivers outstanding results for the Pacific Island region with a world-wide reputation.
According to Professor Chandra, USP’s current enrollment stands strong at about 30,000, driven by the attraction to quality education that makes it the premier higher education institution in the region.
The University he said, has continued its quest to improve its quality and reputation through international accreditations of its programmes.
USP now has achieved a total number of 24 international accreditations and 8 international recognitions, exceeding Strategic Plan (SP) targets and hopefully more will be added to the list at the end of the SP period.
Pacific TAFE has now achieved a total of 8 international accreditations, 5 international recognitions, and 14 accreditations from the Fiji Higher Education Commission that are listed on the Pacific Qualifications Register in the areas of Commercial Cookery, Early Childhood Education & Care, Hospitality Operations, Community Development, Project Management Practice and Counselling.
Professor Chandra noted that this year at the Tonga Campus, USP had 1,116 students and enrolment grew by around 1 percent per year for the last 2 years.
With regards to research, Professor Chandra noted that USP continues to strongly focus on the priorities of member countries via its Strategic Research Themes (SRTs) and there are currently three excellent SRT-based projects, funded by USP, involving Tonga.
These include Evaluation of Community Based Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management (CC-DRM) Integration in Community Development Plans in Tonga and Fiji, coordinated by PACE-SD and carried out by researchers from member countries, including Dr. Robin Havea (SCIMS) and Mr. Seone Lolesio (School of Economics) of Tonga.
Another project is the study of journalists, journalism culture and climate change reporting in 12 USP-member countries, coordinated by the School of Language, Arts & Media. These two projects, Professor Chandra said, are particularly important for Tonga given its vulnerability to natural disasters.
Some of the achievements of USP’s Tonga campus include:
• Launch of the Asian Development Bank- funded Tonga Science Programme through the Climate Resilience Sector Programme and the Government of Tonga’s Ministry of Education and Training;
• Tonga campus is attracting an increasing number of post graduate students, including 3 PhD candidates and a 10 Masters students working on post graduate research; and
• Set-up of an academic committee with a focus on community engagement activities inviting parents to dialogue the importance of Student Grade Point Average. (GPA);
On USP’s 50th anniversary celebrations, Professor Chandra welcomed everyone to be part of the historic milestone in the development of USP and the region and to organise local events that mark this major milestone.
Graduates were from Tonga and Fiji.
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