Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice Chancellor and President delivering his keynote address.
A total of ninety-eight (98) students of The University of the South Pacific (USP) graduated during the sixth (6th) Kiribati Campus graduation on 3rd August 2018.
A notable feature of this graduation ceremony was that sixty-five per cent (65%) of the graduates were females. Forty-seven per cent (47%) of the students graduated with Undergraduate programmes, twenty eight per cent (28%) were from Pacific TAFE, while twenty-four (24%) received Postgraduate qualifications. From the total number of graduates, ninety-three (93) students are Kiribati nationals, while five (5) students are from Fiji.
A major highlight of the graduation was the installation of the University’s new Chancellor, His Excellency Taneti Maamau, the President of the Republic of Kiribati, who is also an alumni of USP.
Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice Chancellor and President warmly welcomed the new Chancellor to the USP family.
He added that it was wonderful to have the graduation ceremony at the Kiribati Campus, during the week of its 50th Anniversary’s “moment to shine”.
“This week gave the opportunity for the Kiribati Campus to showcase itself to the people of Kiribati and celebrate its contributions to the success of its people and the Pacific,” Professor Chandra said.
Professor Chandra congratulated the graduates saying that their graduation concludes the achievement of a major milestone in their lives, one that will fundamentally change it and increase the chance of lifelong success anywhere in the world.
“Your qualifications today should give you the confidence that despite being from a less advantaged country—albeit one of the largest ocean states—you are as good as anybody else and you can achieve anything you set your mind on,” Professor Chandra told the graduates.
He added that the last graduation was held in Kiribati in 2015 where only 28 (twenty-eight) i-Kiribati students graduated. Three (3) years later, the number of i-Kiribati students graduating is more than three (3) times that number.
“This is great testimony to the priority the Government of Kiribati has been placing on educating and skilling its major resource, its people,” Professor Chandra added.
Since the establishment of the University in 2017, one thousand four hundred and sixty five (1,465) i-Kiribati people have graduated from USP. Although about three-quarters of these received undergraduate qualifications, nearly a quarter received post-graduate qualifications, and four (4) have received PhD degrees.
“These graduates have gone on to make a huge contribution to the development of Kiribati and internationally,” Professor Chandra said.
Professor Chandra provided an update on the University’s latest developments and said that USP is currently in the final stages of the implementation of its current Strategic Plan (2013-2018) and the University has already achieved eighty-two (82) per cent of what it set out to achieve.
The new Strategic Plan for 2019 – 2024, Professor Chandra added, is in the process of being finalised with the final draft to be considered and approved at the November Council.
He further stated that the University in a very significant validation of its quality system, has now been accredited by the WASC Senior Commission on Universities and Colleges for six (6) years.
“This means that USP is now amongst those American institutions that have been rigorously assessed as meeting stringent American standards,” Professor Chandra stated.
He highlighted that this is a very big boost to USP’s international standing, and will enable our students to study and get jobs more easily in other countries, while helping the University recruit staff more easily and recruit more international students who bring significant income to the University.
Professor Chandra noted that the Kiribati Campus has shown impressive growth in enrolment, especially after the completion of the new campus building.
“The average growth rate by headcount enrollments have increased by 7.9 per cent over the last five (5) years, while in 2017, growth alone increased by 36.1 per cent reflecting a major increase in in-country cohort-based training,” he added.
Since the completion of the new building, six (6) cohorts have been arranged covering: MBA, Bachelor of Education Primary, Diploma in Accounting, Certificate in Project Management, Certificate in Early Childhood and Care, and Certificate in Justice.
“Of these, BEd Primary, Certificate in Project Management and Postgraduate Diploma cohorts graduated in this ceremony,” Professor Chandra highlighted.
In concluding his speech, Professor Chandra recorded his sincere appreciation to the Government and people of Kiribati for all the support provided to him as he completes almost thirty-nine (39) years of service to USP this year.
“I have been privileged to lead the development of three (3) strategic plans of the total of only five (5) that the University has ever had, and to lead the proposal to the Asian Development Bank that led not only to the building of our new campus in Kiribati, but introduced for the first time the idea of soft loan financing in the overall funding of the University,” Professor Chandra said.
“I will leave with fond memories of Kiribati, its people, and an admiration of the boldness of the governments of Kiribati in taking strong positions internationally to protect their people and country.”
The Kiribati Campus graduation ceremony was attended by the 25th USP Chancellor and the President of the Republic of Kiribati, His Excellency Taneti Maamau and First Lady Teiraeng Maamau; Mr Winston Thompson, the Pro Chancellor and Chair of Council; Hon. Speaker; Cabinet Ministers and members of the Kiribati Government; His Lordship Paul Mea; Hon. Chief Justice and Members of the Judiciary; Hon. David Collins, Minister of Education and Council member; Sir Ieremia Tabai, former President of the Republic of Kiribati, former Pro Chancellor, and former Chancellor of USP; Excellencies and Members of the Diplomatic Corps; heads and representatives of international and regional organisations; members of Council, Senate and their committees; Dr Takuia Uakeia, USP Kiribati Campus Director; Dr Ueantabo McKenzie, former Campus Director; Chairman and members of the Kiribati Campus Advisory Committee; members of staff and students; USP alumni; graduands, their families and friends.
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