Mr Winston Thompson, Pro-Chancellor and Chair of USP Council, awards a student with her certificate during the Solomon Islands graduation ceremony.
For the first time, The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Solomon Islands (SI) Campus held two (2) graduation ceremonies at Auki and Honiara Campuses, where a total of 1211 students graduated with certificates, diplomas and degrees. The awards were given by Mr Winston Thompson, Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council.
For the ceremony in Auki on 25 September, around one hundred and seventy six (176) students graduated from a special programme on Graduate Certificate in School Leadership. This is a special in-country project in Solomon Islands for over three (3) years.
The second graduation ceremony which was held on 28 September in Honiara was attended by Honourable Manasseh Sogavare, the Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of SI, Mr Thompson, Honourable John Dean Kuku, Minister of Education and Human Resources Development, Honourable Ministers and Senior Officials of the SI Government; Members of the Diplomatic Corps; Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of Police, Vice-Chancellor and Pro Vice-Chancellors of SI National University, Dr Patricia Rodie, USP SI Campus Director, Heads of International and Regional Organisations, Chair and Members of the SI Campus Advisory Committee, graduates, their families and friends, and USP staff and students.
Of those graduating, seventy four per cent (74%) graduated with Graduate Certificates, eleven per cent (11%) graduated with Undergraduate qualifications while around eight per cent (8%) graduated from Pacific Technical and Further Education (Pacific TAFE). Out of the total, thirty four per cent (34%) of the graduates were females.
Since the establishment of USP in 1968, the total number of awards for SI students is 8,746 which amount to thirteen per cent (13%) of all qualifications granted by the University.
Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President of USP, welcomed everyone to the auspicious occasion, and especially welcomed Hon. Sogavare, who is also a very distinguished alumnus of the University.
While congratulating the graduates, Professor Chandra reminded them to thank those who have supported them in their journey, their parents and families, sponsors, lecturers and tutors, adding that “without their support you would not have reached this far.”
Referring to students who graduated from Graduate Certificate in School Leadership programme, Professor Chandra hoped that they will go on to make a major difference to educational outcomes in SI as the quality of educational outcomes in SI and the rest of the University’s member countries remains a serious concern for governments and others alike.
Professor Chandra further highlighted that USP is in the final year of its current Strategic Plan and it has already achieved eighty two per cent (82%) of what it had set out to achieve.
He informed that the new Strategic Plan for 2019 – 2024 is being finalised with the final draft to be submitted to the November Council for its consideration and approval. The University also had two (2) consultations in Solomon Islands with regard to the new Strategic Plan.
He added that in a very significant validation of the University’s quality system, USP has now been accredited by the WASC Senior Commission on Universities and Colleges for six (6) years.
“This means that USP is now accepted as having the same quality as American institutions that have been rigorously assessed as meeting stringent American standards. This is a very big boost to our 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 said.
Talking about significant achievements at the SI Campus, Professor Chandra informed that Pacific TAFE with support from both the European Union and the SI Government delivered four (4) cohorts between 2017 and 2018 where around ninety three (93) participants out of one hundred (100) have met the requirements to graduate with a Certificate IV in Project Management Practice.
In terms of its Information Technology (IT) Services, the University hassuccessfully provided WiFi access points to allow students to access internet for studies, Audio and Video installations in allocated rooms and point to point fiber links between the current Lawson Tama USP Campus and the SMI building to allow for services at the SMI building such as React, Moodle and email.
Telephony installation has also been completed as well as computers in the labs which are now connected to the University network.
He also relayed that the leadership arrangements for the Regional Campuses were changed in 2017 and a Pro-Vice Chancellor for Solomon Islands has now been appointed.
Meanwhile, Professor Chandra assured that despite the delays, plans for the new Campus are now on track to deliver a Campus in 2021.
To enable this to happen, the University has recently spent a further USD 200,000 to ensure that the engineering drawings are independently assessed and the new tender documents are prepared and used effectively in the tender process.
The Vice-Chancellor and President thanked the SI Government for its support and assistance in ensuring that the Campus is finally getting developed, adding that, “we will ensure that when it is completed, it is a show case Campus of the most modern pedagogy and environmental sustainability.”
USP is also progressing well to establish a new School of Public Health in the new Campus and the initial endorsement for the establishment of the School of Public Health has been done.
Professor Chandra also mentioned that as part of the future academic plans, the Faculty of Science Technology and Environment (FSTE) is currently collaborating with the SI Government to bring face-to-face in-country science programmes to Solomon Islands from Semester 1 next year.
These include science disciplines such as Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics and Information Systems and are designed to allow students to do at least the first year of their Undergraduate programmes in SI.
The SI Campus graduation served as the last graduation for Professor Chandra, who retires at the end of the year, after completing almost thirty nine (39) years of service to USP in various roles.
He recorded his appreciation to the Government and people of SI, to the other member countries and the people of the Pacific, and added that he was privileged to have taught some of the best students from SI, one of whom went on to become a Prime Minister while many others rose through the ranks to make exceptional contributions to SI and beyond.
Professor Chandra recalled that SI had nominated him for the position of the Vice-Chancellor, which he acknowledged whole-heartedly adding that, “for a person searching for acceptance as a Pacific Islander, this meant a great deal to me and represented a huge gesture from the Government for which I have remained forever grateful.”
More recently, SI honoured him with its award for meritorious service to SI, something which he expressed that he truly values and cherishes.
The SI Campus graduation coincided with the week of SI Campus ‘Moment to Shine’ for the University’s 50th Anniversary, which was also launched by Hon. Sogavare on 26 September.
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