Office of the Vice-Chancellor

Office of the Vice-Chancellor

Remarks by Prof. Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President

1. Greetings and acknowledgement

The President of the Republic of Fiji, His Excellency Ratu Epeli Nailatikau
The Chief Guest, USP Chancellor, Ulu-o-Tokelau, His Excellency Aliki Faipule Kerisiano Kalolo
Honourable Ministers
Pro-Chancellor & Chair of Council, Mr Ikbal Jannif
Excellencies and Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Chair of Finance and Investments Committee, Ms Fay Yee
Chair of Audit and Risk Committee, Mr. Iowane Naiveli
Heads and Representatives of CROP and International Organizations
Senior Government Officials & Heads of Statutory Organizations
Members of the Council, Senate & FIC
Members of SMT & Staff of the University
Distinguished Guests
Student Leaders
Ladies and Gentlemen

2. Welcome

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to this evening’s event to mark the launch of USP Strategic Plan 2013-2018.  Thank you very much Chancellor for agreeing to do the honours this evening.  Travelling from Tokelau to Suva is not easy and I know that as Head of Government, you had other commitments that you adjusted to do the honours this evening. We are deeply honoured by your presence.      

I wish to also extend a special welcome to our President, His Excellency Ratu Epeli Nailatikau. Vinaka Vakalevu. Thank you very much to all of our other guests and friends here this evening.  Many of you have provided valuable input to the Strategic Planning process, and have good reason to celebrate the final document.  

3. Very promising start to the 2013 Academic Year

As you will no doubt know, we started teaching last week. The University is once again buzzing with activities, and it is very pleasing to see so many bright young students here and at the other 13 campuses of this regional university.

Earlier this year, we had the launch of our partnership with Australia and New Zealand. The NZ/USP partnership has provided a modest increase over the last partnership for which we are grateful. Australia has nearly doubled its assistance to USP this year, and we have been assured that a five year partnership taking in the period of the strategic plan will be concluded this year. We are very grateful for this. These partnerships have provided significant financial stability to the University.

We have been given approval for the construction of additional student accommodation and in-principle approval for the construction of our campus in Lautoka. The Government of Solomon Islands has given the University 100 hectares of land for the construction of a new campus, and everything is proceeding well for the construction this year of a new campus in Kiribati.

Perhaps the most encouraging development has been strong enrolment growth this year. While we need more time to get reliable numbers, given the preliminary numbers, we expect enrolment to grow by more than 10 per cent this year, a remarkable achievement in a highly competitive environment.

We are, therefore, very confident of a very successful year ahead of us.

4. Strategic Plan 2013-2018

We are gathered this evening for the launch of the new Strategic Plan. While the Chief Guest and Chancellor will speak at length about the Plan and launch it, I wish to make a few remarks about Strategic Plan 2013-2018:

  • A key element in the success of any Strategic Plan is the process by which it is conceived and developed. I would like to point out that this Plan has been developed with the strong involvement of the University Council that reviewed the initial thoughts on it, then had a workshop on it to guide its further development, and had a final workshop to finalize its approval.
  • The members of staff, students, development partners, regional agencies all had full involvement in the development of the Plan.
  • The University conducted country consultations to obtain the views of its member countries and these views were incorporated as appropriate in the new Plan.
  • This plan is therefore very consultative and inclusive, and this should make it a successful one because of its strong sense of ownership and inclusion.
  • With the success of the previous Strategic Plan, and with the University firmly back on track, there was an opportunity to think bigger and to be more ambitious and innovative. The new Plan is therefore about a stronger unifying Vision that relates closely to the needs and aspirations of our region. The new Vision is “Achieving Excellence and innovation for sustainable development of the Pacific Island Countries”. 
  • The over-riding theme of SP 2013-2018 is transforming USP from good to excellent. Being good is not good enough in a highly competitive, open, and knowledge-intensive world. We need to lift our vision and stretch our performance, and obtain global recognition in selected fields and a reputation of competence and excellence in everything we do. 
  • The University will continue to undergo strong reform and restructuring in the new Plan, with a strong focus on continuos improvement and higher standards.
  • The Strategic Plan 2013-2018 retains the same priority areas as the previous Plan.  This is an acknowledgement that USP must deliver on a key group of concerns.  To its main priorities relating to learning and teaching, student support, research, community engagement, HR, and governance, a seventh priority of ICT has been added.  This recognizes USP’s comparative advantage in that area, its regional leadership, and the fact that it holds regional assets, such as the Japan-Pacific ICT Centre, in trust.
  • It is also noteworthy that ‘Leadership’ has been added as a named component of the governance priority.  USP has been widely appreciated by other regional organizations for the leadership that it exercises in a variety of areas.  This will be developed further across the University and its operations, with staff and students both having greater access to leadership training and opportunities.  
  • Research, essential for any great university, features prominently in the new Strategic Plan; we have committed to engaging more staff and students in research that is relevant to the region.  By 2018, USP will have 200 PhD students and over 2,000 postgraduate and Masters students.
  • USP will have total enrolment of 33,000 students by 2018.
  • Entrepreneurialism is a further focus for the next six years.  The University will consider how it can raise funds through commercial pursuits, will encourage students and alumni to consider growing their own businesses, and will play a role in encouraging entrepreneurialism in its communities
  • Total cost of SP 2013-2018 is $242 million which is provided by a combination of internal USP funds, development assistance, borrowings, and some bi-lateral assistance.  The University is confident of securing the funds needed for the Plan. 
  • Of the $242 million, or two thirds will go towards capital projects, mostly in our regional campuses.
  • Many strategic plans do not succeed because of lack of focus on their implementation. We had developed good implementation plans, and monitoring and evaluation systems for our previous plan. In this new Plan, we have further improved these, and I am confident that the University will achieve the vision of excellence, greater regionality, greater and more impactful research, and greater entrepreneurship as a result of the strategic plan being launched this evening.

5. Conclusion 

In conclusion, welcome once again.  Thank you for your contribution to the development of and support for the vision of Strategic Plan 2013-2018 and USP as an institution of excellence by its 50th anniversary in 2018.  

Thank you, Vinaka Vakalevu, Dhanyabaad 

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