H.E Mr Wahidullah Waissi, Ambassador of Afghanistan and Professor Richard Coll, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the Laucala Campus.
His Excellency Mr Wahidullah Waissi, Ambassador of Afghanistan to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, paid a courtesy visit to The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Laucala Campus on 26 April 2018.
Professor Richard Coll, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Learning, Teaching & Student Services (LTSS) welcomed the Ambassador and thanked him for visiting the University.
H.E Waissi said, “Everyone is speaking highly of USP so I thought it would be an incomplete mission if I did not come and visit”.
Professor Coll explained to H.E Waissi that USP is an unusual university in that it is one of three in the world that have a regional ownership. USP is owned by 12 member countries, with Fiji being the headquarters and Laucala being the main campus.
“We have good relations with member countries and each member country campus has an advisory committee chaired by the Minister for Education of that country and the intention is that we understand the education needs of the country and that feeds into our normal approval processes and systems,” Professor Coll said.
That committee, he said, is charged with producing the academic plan for that particular campus and from that we look at what we offer and how we might achieve those goals,” he said.
H.E Waissi was informed that since 2012, there have been 20 students from Afghanistan, some of whom studied at the Laucala and Nauru Campuses.
Professor Coll mentioned that in the last ten (10) years, there has been a push particularly to convert courses to online mode.
“It varies depending on the discipline so we are trying to catch the digital component of learning as well. All new first year students get a free tablet and we have extensive wireless access across the region.
“The internet connectivity varies because not all member countries have fibre optic cable, most do, but in the next two years everyone will, so it will be a bit of a game changer for us as we continue to push that area. Currently, 75 per cent of our individual courses are now online,” he explained.
Responding to questions from H.E Waissi, Professor Coll said the total number of students at USP is approximately 30,000.
Professor Coll also referred to the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) accreditation process, where USP hosted the accreditation visit earlier this month which will be followed by a formal decision that is expected in June.
The Ambassador acknowledged Professor Coll’s presentation and was appreciative of the role of the University in the region.
Prior to his appointment, Ambassador Waissi was appointed as Director-General for Economic Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Afghanistan (2012 to 2016) and he previously taught economic development at the University of Afghanistan.
Ambassador Waissi studied in the United States and holds a Masters Degree in Development Economics from the Centre for Development Economics of Williams College. He is also a visiting scholar of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute of the SAIS/Johns Hopkins University in Washington DC, a fellowship programme for raising regional leaders in government, commerce, and academia from Central Asia, Mongolia, the Caucasus and Afghanistan (CAMCA).
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