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USP graduates record number of students

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Professor Pal Ahluwalia, Vice-Chancellor & President of USP delivering his speech at the September Graduation today.

A total of 1140 students from The University of the South Pacific (USP) graduated in a ceremony at the FMF Gymnasium in Laucala Bay, Suva on 19 September 2019.

These included 258 students from the Faculty of Arts, Law & Education (FALE); 202 from the Faculty of Science, Technology & Environment (FSTE) and 680 from the Pacific Technical & Further Education. The remaining 595 students will graduate from the Faculty of Business & Economics (FBE) in another ceremony on 20 September, bringing the total number of graduates to 1735 in this year’s second graduation ceremony.

In his keynote address, Professor Pal Ahluwalia, Vice-Chancellor & President of USP welcomed the graduates, staff and family and friends. He also mentioned a special acknowledgement to Her Excellency Dr Hilda Heine, the President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands and Chancellor of USP; Mr Winston Thompson, the Pro-Chancellor and Chair of USP Council and Mrs Queenie Thompson; Honourable Ministers and Senior Officials of the Fijian Government; Ambassadors, High Commissioners and Members of the Diplomatic Corps; Heads of Regional and International Organisations; Members of Council, Senate and their Committees; and Members of the University Senior Management Team.

Her Excellency Dr Hilda Heine, the President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands and Chancellor of USP conferred the certificates, diplomas and degrees to the graduands.

Professor Ahluwalia said the graduation is being held over 2 days and in 3 sessions, reflecting a consistent and significant increase in the number of graduates over the years. He announced that of the overall 1735 graduands, sixty-five percent (65%) are females, an increase of five percent (5%) compared to our last graduation held earlier in March this year.

In the first session (FALE & FSTE), there were a total of 460 graduands of which FSTE had 19 Masters graduands including one Master of Science in Climate Change and 4 who graduated with their PhD. For FALE, a total of 14 graduands received their Masters Degrees and 2 received their PhD. 

Under the Pacific TAFE programme, there was a total of 18 graduands who received 2 awards each. 

“These are significant numbers and testimony to the quality and excellence that is prevalent within our University,” Professor Ahluwalia said.

While speaking to the graduands, he offered his congratulations and said that what they had achieved in completing a degree is a significant accomplishment. 

“Regardless of your chosen field of study, graduation signifies the culmination of several years of hard work on your part.  Today is a celebration of your efforts, and also offers a time for us to thank the academic and professional staff who have been absolutely committed to helping you to achieve your learning goals.

Graduates of USP's FALE and FSTE at the FMF Gymnasium.

“Thanks must go to the family and friends, employers, colleagues and mentors who have also played an important role in the success of each graduand.  You can all be justly proud of your efforts,” he stated.

He said that while this is a day of celebration, it also represents a point of departure for some of them, from studying at USP to a new stage, where they have the opportunity to make their mark in the community.

The University he said, has endeavoured to instil in them, a body of knowledge and a set of qualities that will prepare them for their future life.

“However, the true value of your education lies in how you use this knowledge for the greater good of your communities, your countries and the Pacific region,” he advised.

Professor Ahluwalia said their life-long relationship with USP continues today as it started the first day they entered one of USP’s 14 Campuses. He reassured them that they are members of an international community of USP graduates and urged them to make use of USP’s Alumni Network and keep in touch as they journey through life. 

“Continue to live by the values of your University in all that you do – embody excellence, embrace innovation, uphold the highest ethical standards and operate with integrity; be respectful, and celebrate diversity. In all that you do, never settle for second best,” he said.

“The Pacific is plagued with great insecurities as a result of climate change that challenges our livelihoods and for some of us, our sovereignty. Equally, the Pacific already has demonstrated to the world its innovative nature and capacity for resilience,” he added.

He challenged the graduands to take the best of their insights, experiences and knowledge, and turn them into actions in order to improve people’s lives and prospects.

On USP’s accomplishments and aspirations, he focused on some of the major work done so far this year as well the initiation of some key projects. These he said, included the Forum on Learning & Teaching, with the theme “The Best Possible Outcome for All Learners, which chartered new approaches essential to students success; the important role USP played in the provision of technical expertise to the Pacific delegations to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), through the Micronesian Centre for Sustainable Transport (MCST); the MFAT-funded USPNet Infrastructure Upgrade; and the signed Partnership worth AUD 84m with DFAT Australia; among others.

“The University is focused on effectively addressing the needs of the region; establishing its international reputation and fostering regionalism. It will continue to focus on enhancing its capacities in varying facets to deliver quality education to our member countries; engage in meaningful research, value-adding innovations and entrepreneurship; and ensuring that our graduates are job ready with the necessary attributes that enable resolving the social and development issues encountered by the region,” he said.

Graduates of Pacific TAFE.


He also assured that “we at the University remain aspirational, energetic and committed to change and success, ensuring an enduring partnership with each of you”. 

In addition, he urged the graduands to use their new credentials from the University to good effect. 

“We live in particularly unsettling times where the world is facing problems of enormous gravity.  As our most recent graduates, you will undoubtedly bring a unique perspective to these issues and their impact on our societies. I have no doubt that it is amongst our newest graduates that the solutions to some of these most challenging and intractable problems will be found,” he added. 

Vice-Chancellor & President's speech at the FALE & FSTE Graduation

Vice-Chancellor & President's speech at the Pacific TAFE Graduation

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This news item was published on 19 Sep 2019 04:16:39 pm. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email

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