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New Australian High Commissioner Pays Courtesy Visit to USP

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(From L-R): Professor Derrick Armstrong, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research, Innovation and International, H.E John Feakes, Australian High Commissioner, Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President of USP, Mr Gordon Burns, Counsellor, Regional Development Cooperation at DFAT and Mr Jaindra Karan, Director, Strategic Partnerships, Advancement and Communications.

The new Australian High Commissioner, His Excellency Mr John Feakes, paid a courtesy visit to the Vice-Chancellor and President of The University of the South Pacific (USP), Professor Rajesh Chandra on 14 February 2018.

H.E Mr Feakes started his term at the Australian High Commission in November last year, replacing Her Excellency Ms Margaret Twomey.

Professor Chandra warmly welcomed H.E Mr Feakes to the University’s headquarters at Laucala Campus and thanked him for this first official meeting.

He reminisced Australia’s partnership with the University and said that Australia has been a foundational partner and contributing to the success of the University.

Professor Chandra mentioned Australia’s assistance towards the University, which includes the Australia-Pacific Lecture Theatre; Library; connection to AARNET starting in 2005; Australian scholarships for students; funding assistance towards climate change programme and conferences; Australia’s assistance towards the Untrained Teacher’s Project, transforming the University’s administrative system through the Total Administrative Review Project (TARP), Pacific Islands Legal Information Institute (PacLII) and Pacific Islands Centre for Public Administration (PICPA) Project.

Australia has also entered into Partnership Arrangements with USP for a longer term funding. The first was Partnership Agreement for the Strategic Plan 2010-2012 period and the current partnership covers the current Strategic Plan period of 2013-2018.

USP is also in the process of developing the next partnership agreement which will coincide the new Strategic Plan (2019-2024) period.

The University, Professor Chandra mentioned, is working with Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in creating lasting legacy around improvement of teacher training. Professor Chandra explained how the teacher training improvements are planned to be delivered.

“Part of it is giving assurance to everyone that our own teacher training is the best that we can have and ensuring that we can work with the governments and the institutions to make sure that everyone else who are training teachers are impacting on their educational outcomes in all of our member countries,” Professor Chandra stated.

In his remarks, H.E Mr Feakes said that Australia is really proud to partner with USP and added that it is a high-functioning organisation, and a lot of that has to do with Professor Chandra’s leadership.

He mentioned that in Australia’s interest, USP is a high performing University educating the region’s leaders, and added that it is important for Australia’s prosperity agenda that the contribution of USP is not only towards Fiji, but towards other Pacific countries.

H.E Mr Feakes said that it is hard to run such complex institution and acknowledged Professor Chandra and his team for lifting the standards of education.

“We are grateful that we have played a role in helping the University and I am confident that we will continue for the next fifty (50) years,” he further mentioned.

Some of the things discussed in the meeting included the Vice-Chancellor and President and the Pro-Chancellor’s terms, which come to an end this year; USP’s eligibilityfor Australian Research Council Funding; Partnership with Australian universities for research; Australian institutions to assess and accredit institutional quality work in Pacific universities; High Level Consultation between USP and Australian Government through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT); and sealing of partnership deal with Australia and New Zealand before the Council Meeting in November this year.

H.E Mr Feakes is a senior career officer with DFAT and was most recently High Commissioner to Kenya.

He has served in Lebanon, Jordan, Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and the United States. In Canberra Mr Feakes has held a range of positions including Assistant Secretary, Policy Planning Branch and Assistant Secretary, Strategic Affairs Branch.

H.E Mr Feakes holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree from the University of New South Wales.

This news item was published on 20 Feb 2018 12:17:43 pm. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email

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