Sitting L-R: Mr Michael Appleton, Unit Manager, Pacific Regional Division, MFAT; Professor Rajesh Chandra, USP VC & President and Dr Robert Christie, Assistant Secretary, Pacific Aid Effectiveness & Advice Branch, DFAT with members of the Australian, NZ & USP delegation.
A successful tripartite High Level Consultation (HLC) between The University of the South Pacific (USP) and Australia and New Zealand, its major development partners, was held at the Japan-Pacific ICT Centre at USP’s Laucala Campus on 21 November, 2017.
The University has HLCs with Australia and New Zealand twice a year, whereby the first consultation is held in Canberra and Wellington respectively and the second tripartite is hosted by USP at the main Laucala Campus.
The objectives of the meeting was to discuss progress and issues of performance and risk management relating to the USP Strategic Plan 2013-2018 and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and the progress on the development of USP’s New Strategic Plan 2019-2024.
The meeting also discussed USP’s future partnerships with Australia and New Zealand beyond 2018 and strategic regional issues in which USP is a key stakeholder, including learner and labour mobility, quality teacher development and USP’s role in evolving regional education in the Pacific.
Furthermore, progress under the University’s joint initiatives with Australia and New Zealand, specifically relating to the Australia-USP Joint Working Group on enhancing quality of teacher education in the region and the USP-New Zealand USPNet Enhancement Project was also reviewed during the meeting. Both partners were also updated on USP’s 50th Anniversary Celebration plans and key announcements in 2018.
The Australian delegation was led by Dr Robert Christie, Assistant Secretary, Pacific Aid Effectiveness & Advice Branch from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), while Mr Michael Appleton, Unit Manager, Pacific Regional Division, led the delegation for New Zealand.
In welcoming them Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President of USP said that the University’s level of engagement with Australia and New Zealand has, over the years, shifted a notch up “as there is mutual agreement to move away from a donor-recipient relationship to that of a more partnership-based approach where all parties are collectively focused to deliver more for the region”.
Such efforts he said, is evident in joint initiatives such as the USP-Australia Joint Working Group (WG) focused on enhancing quality of teacher education in the region and USP-New Zealand USPNet enhancement project.
He informed the delegates that the University has made good progress on the implementation of the Strategic Plan (2013-2018) and is on track with its efforts towards the development of USP’s New Strategic Plan 2019-2024, as per the roadmap approved by the Council at its May 2017 meeting.
The tripartite High Level Consultation (HLC) was successfully carried out at the Laucala Campus.
Professor Chandra reiterated the University’s appreciation to the Governments of Australia and New Zealand for their continued support and contribution to the University in achieving its strategic objectives and providing guidance on strategic matters. He also expressed his heartiest congratulations to New Zealand for the new Government that had just been sworn in.
Professor Chandra noted that USP has had a very positive experience around the inclusion and consultation of the Strategic Plan and ensuring that the Government, development partners, students and staff all feel a sense of ownership.
He confirmed that in the new plan, the focus will be more on performance and accountability mechanisms and changing the culture of the University towards greater professionalism.
On the new SP, Professor Chandra said USP reflected on where the current plan is, going forward, and the University “should accept is as it is genuinely a plan for the stakeholders of the University and the Council as a governing body”.
Professor Chandra said that USP has made significant gains in winning respect from CROP colleagues and Governments as an institution that has something to deliver through the CROP mechanism.
“The core of our contribution is around research and finding solutions to the big development questions and supporting our member countries through action research, fundamental research, modelling, data analytics and preparing the region for digital transformation,” he noted.
Strategic issues for Tertiary Education and Pacific Islands countries, in which USP is a key stakeholder were also discussed, including Pacific Learner and Labour Mobility; Role of USP in Regional Education in the Pacific; and the relationship between key sustainable development issues in the Pacific and USP’s current and future research programme.
A briefing on the preparations for the 50th anniversary celebrations in 2018 was also done.
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