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USP farewells Australia, New Zealand High Commissioners

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(From L-R): Mr Winston Thompson, Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council, H.E Ms Margaret Twomey, Australian High Commissioner, H.E Mr Mark Ramsden, New Zealand High Commissioner and Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President.

The University of the South Pacific (USP) hosted a special farewell cocktail for Her Excellency Ms Margaret Twomey, High Commissioner of Australia and His Excellency Mr Mark Ramsden, High Commissioner of New Zealand on 31 October 2017.

Australia and New Zealand have been foundational partners of the University since its inception in 1968 and have contributed to the University’s core budget and projects ever since.

Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President, said that both High Commissioners have made some very important contributions towards the University, in the area of ICT, Climate Change, Teacher Quality Training, Education, Advancing Pacific Legal Networks, Sustainable Development, Fisheries and Marine, Gender, Human Rights, Public Administration, among others, through their respective partnerships with USP and also through projects.

Both Australia and New Zealand have provided scholarships for students across the Pacific to attain quality education from USP. In Australia’s case, USP is managing the Australian Awards Pacific Scholarship (AAPS) that has seen a large number of regional students pass through the University with high-flying achievements.  

Both countries also have their representatives on the USP Council and the University Grants Committee (UGC).

“Like all the previous High Commissioners from the two countries, H.E Ms Twomey and H.E Mr Ramsden have served diligently for Fiji and other Forum Island Countries (FICs) they have been responsible for, as well as assisting USP,” Professor Chandra said.

Talking about Australia’s support to the University, he said that Australian assistance leverages the work that USP is doing in the areas of Climate Change and Environment, Capacity Building, and Vocational Education, respectively through the Pacific Centre of Environment and Sustainable Development (PaCE-SD) and Pacific Technical and Further Education (Pacific TAFE).

The Australia-USP Partnership has provided FJD110 million over past five (5) years and has been instrumental in the University being able to develop a bolder vision for the University and to be able to implement many transformative reforms and restructuring as well as pursue projects to improve our regional campuses

Under H.E Ms Twomey’s leadership, the University has witnessed a number of significant events taking place, such as the launch of the APTC-Pacific TAFE kitchen – Pacific Fusion Restaurant, by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Honorable Julie Bishop; the transition of the Pacific Islands Legal Information Institute (PacLII) to become an Institute of the University, and, the name change of the AUSAID Lecture theatre to become the “Australia Pacific Lecture Theatre”.

Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President presents the token of appreciation to H.E Ms Margaret Twomey, Australian High Commissioner.

Professor Chandra said that H.E Ms Twomey’s leadership and dedication has been instrumental in the advancement of education and other areas in the Pacific region with the most recent being the joint initiative towards enhancing quality of teachers across the Pacific. 

“I firmly believe that this initiative will result in quality teachers delivering quality education for students across the region and preparing them effectively for higher education and contributions to their respective countries,” he added.

The University’s partnership with New Zealand has also been a long standing one ever since the start of the University, along with Australia.

New Zealand was amongst the countries that commissioned the establishment of the University in 1968 and has provided support towards the core budget of the University from the beginning, which has enabled USP to position itself well to serve the Pacific region with education ICT, research, and regionalism becoming the transformative strategy for the University.

Professor Chandra noted that the key achievements under each of the Priority Areas of the Strategic Plans have been facilitated by the funding support from New Zealand, as their funds are allocated to all of the Priority Areas.

He further stated that in June this year, key stakeholders of the University witnessed the signing of the Grant Funding Arrangement (GFA) between New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and USP for the upgrade of the USPNet Infrastructure at the regional campuses with a total project cost of NZD 5.688m to be implemented by March 2020.

“Your Excellency, you have also been an ardent supporter and always ready to assist and support the University.  I have very much enjoyed our working together and on behalf of the University, I would like to express our sincere gratitude to you and through you to the Government of New Zealand for its continuous support, which has immensely led to the improvement of USP’s education service delivery for 5 decades,” Professor Chandra said.

The Vice-Chancellor and President said that next year, the University will be celebrating the University’s 50th Anniversary and in these celebrations Australia and New Zealand will no doubt feel proud to be associated with the University as their unwavering support to USP  have trickled down to peoples of the region.

H.E Twomey said that USP is the ‘big success’ and illustration she always uses when she is discussing regionalism in the Pacific, to show how people from their various countries contribute to a greater good.

She added that one of the things about USP which is of particular interest to her is academia, especially about the relevance and importance of the Pacific, not just in regional but in global affairs.

Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President presents the token of appreciation to H.E Mr Mark Ramsden, New Zealand High Commissioner.

“I promise you that I will be an advocate of Pacific and USP, when I go home. I will certainly be assuring that the attention that the Pacific deserves is accorded by the Australian Government,” H.E Twomey said.

In his address, H.E Ramsden noted that there is great support for the University from a number of development partners and acknowledged their presence at the cocktail.

He also appreciated the work of the Pasifika Voices and Oceania Dance Theatre, adding that their entertainment is one which is always looked forward to during the University’s Open Days.

H.E Ramsden mentioned that the generation of leaders taking the Pacific forward into the future is the ones that are or will be trained by Pacific institutions like USP, which he emphasised, makes the role of USP critical and saluted Professor Chandra for the massive role he has to play to keep the University in the lead in his capacity as the Vice-Chancellor and President.

Both the High Commissioners congratulated the University for achieving international accreditations/recognitions and encouraged to seek more in future.                       

Present at the farewell were, Mr Winston Thompson, Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council; Dame Meg Taylor, Secretary-General of Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat; H.E Litia Mawi, Fiji’s Roving Ambassador to the Pacific; Ms Judith Cefkin, United States Ambassador to Fiji; Heads of Regional and International Organisations; Mr Ikbal Jannif, Chancellor of Fiji National University (FNU); Professor Nigel Healey, Vice-Chancellor of FNU; Ms Lynda Aumua, Director of Fiji Higher Education Commission; Chairs of University Council Committees; Senior Fiji Government representatives, representatives of statutory organisations; and members of USP Senior Staff and University community.

This news item was published on 1 Nov 2017 02:52:18 pm. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email

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