Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor Richard Coll, gives his address during the graduation ceremony.
A total of eighty-seven (87) students graduated at The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Cook Islands Campus graduation in Rarotonga on 24 October 2018.
Of this number, forty-seven (47) graduates were presented to the Chancellor, having completed their awards since the last in-country graduation in October 2015.
Nineteen (19) of the graduating students received double awards – the Graduate Certificate in Public Administration and the Post Graduate Diploma in Commerce. Two (2) students graduated at Masters level while over 50 per cent of the awards were at post-graduate level. A further nine (9) students with post-graduate awards from AUT University in a collaboration with USP were recognised, including three Masters by research students.
In his address, Professor Richard Coll, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Learning, Teaching and Student Services (LTSS) made special mention of the fact that six (6) USP Masters graduates had been elected to the Parliament of 23 members following the June 2018 Cook Islands Parliamentary elections. Of the six (6) Masters graduates, five (5) are from the first Master of Business Administration (MBA) cohort and one with a Masters of Education.
“Two of these USP graduates now sit in the Cook Islands Cabinet and one is Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance,” he noted.
Additionally, the recent announcement of the new Head of Cook Islands Ministries, indicates that seven (7) of the 13 Heads of Ministries are USP graduates, three (3) of which are males and four (4) females.
Professor Coll noted that as of this graduation, approximately 257 of USP’s 500 plus Cook Islands graduates now hold post-graduate degrees, including 107 with Masters degrees. Four (4) students are currently undertaking PhD studies and 15 have commenced Masters by research programmes.
The first Cook Islands students to graduate from USP Lionel Brown and Marjorie Crocombe, march together again at the 50th Anniversary graduation on 24 October 2018.
“In recognition of the growing number of post graduate students in the Cook Islands, I am pleased to announce that, in May this year, the Government of the Cook Islands and the University agreed to jointly fund a Centre for Research and Policy Studies at USP Cook Islands and funding has been set aside in the Government’s 2018/9 budget for the new centre,” he stated.
This he said, will ensure support and local supervision of Masters by research and PhD students with a particular focus on policy research.
In addition, Professor Coll mentioned that “the Government of the Cook Islands has designated USP Cook Islands as the location for the Cook Islands and Government of India’s joint Centre for Excellence in Information Technology”.
“The Centre is designed to increase the country’s capacity in advanced computing and cyber security as well as developing ICT awareness at all levels of government, business and the community. The Government has committed funding over the coming four years to meet its component of the total costs of the Centre,” Professor Coll announced.
The graduates’ address was given by Mr. Mani Mate who graduated with a Masters of Commerce in Tourism and Hospitality.
Mr. Mate was a member of the original cohort of the Bachelor of Commerce in Hotel Management programme in Cook Islands.
He spoke of his journey from in-country completion of the diploma to degree studies at Laucala, followed by his Masters and a research mini-thesis. Mr Mate congratulated his colleagues for graduating and acknowledged families, friends, lecturers and USP staff for their support.
The graduation received significant community support with the audience filling both domes of the National Auditorium.
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