Office of the Vice-Chancellor

Office of the Vice-Chancellor

Open Day Welcome Address and Introduction of the Chief Guest by the Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Rajesh Chandra, The University of the South Pacific, Friday 7 August 2015

The Chief Guest, Honourable Major General (Ret’d) Jioji K. Konrote, Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations
Honourable Ministers and senior government officials
Acting Deputy Pro Chancellor and Chair of Council, Mr. Iowane Naiveli;
Chair of Finance and Investments Committee, Ms. Fay Yee
Excellencies and Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Members of the Council, Senate, FIC, Audit and Risk Committee and the Senior Management Team   
Heads of International and Regional Organizations
School Principals, teachers and students
Members of Staff and USP students and Alumni
Our valued sponsors
Media partners

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very pleased to join the DVC Learning, Teaching and Student Services in welcoming you most warmly to The University of the South Pacific’s Open Day 2015.  Without doubt, this is one of the most important days in USP’s calendar, and might I say, the most exciting one as well for our staff and students.

I extend a special welcome to our Chief Guest Honourable Major General (Ret’d) Jioji Konrote. It is always a great pleasure to have you amongst us Minister, as your presence represents your Government’s firm commitment to making higher education accessible to all young people and your personal interest in higher education and the University.  

My warmest welcome and appreciation to all the visiting students and their teachers. I hope that your time spent with us here today will convince you that studying at USP will give you the best chance of finding a job and for life-long success. I also extend a warm welcome to our sponsors as well. I would like to commend and thank you for your support to higher education in the region and your continuous support to the University.

Today’s event has been carefully designed keeping in mind that this day serves as an introduction and a platform of intellectual exchange for so many eager young minds who would like to pursue higher education at an institution renowned for quality, Pacific focus, and excellent links with industry and regional and international partners.   

So while you are discovering your future here, your counterparts and wantoks around the region are doing the same as most of our campuses around the region are also holding Open Day at their respective campuses. You will perhaps get a chance to interact with them as well today through our REACT platform at the ICT and Centre for Flexible Learning villages. The event is also being broadcast live to all our member countries through Sky Pacific so don’t hesitate to say “Bula” to everyone in the region when the cameras come your way. There is no better place to integrate with the region than USP; after all, USP is a melting pot for Pacific cultures and people.

This year’s Open Day theme – “USP – Shaping your Future” reflects the fact that higher education powerfully shapes the future of people in a knowledge society and economy and that USP powerfully shapes the future of its graduates with the knowledge, skills, competencies, values and mindsets that assure life-long success.

The University has molded and produced some of our region’s leaders and we continue to be the place where the region’s future leaders and intellectuals spend their formative years. Over the last 47 years, the University has produced over 44, 000 graduates. USP alumni have distinguished themselves in many fields nationally, regionally and internationally. They all provide powerful and inspirational role models and network opportunities that all new graduates can benefit from.

Quality is of paramount importance at the University and is assured through External Advisers from renowned Universities, institutional quality audits from Australian and New Zealand quality agencies and from international accreditors.  Our programmes are just as good as those offered by Australian, New Zealand and other overseas universities, but our degrees come at a much lower cost and are more relevant to the Pacific.  

Our Master of Business Administration (MBA) programme is ranked 6th in the Oceania Region by Eduniversal Best Masters Ranking and is accredited by the Association of MBAs. Our list of accredited programmes includes Accounting and Finance, Bachelor of Laws (LLB) Tourism and Hospitality Management, Bachelors of Net-Centric Computing and Software Engineering as well as Pacific Technical and Further Education (Pacific TAFE) courses in Certificate III in Commercial Cookery and Certificate IV in Hospitality Operations.  All our programmes are expected to be internationally accredited by 2018.

Campus experience in any university has a strong contribution to make to life-long success. Apart from having the finest sporting and fitness centers, and cross-cultural opportunities, Campus Life ensures that University life is memorable and one of the most exciting times for those who live and study at the campuses.   

One of the things that we take pride in is our inclusive education. The Disability Resource Centre and Career Services offer focused advice and assistance, while the Medical Centre, Library, and Student Learning Support have enlarged and enhanced their services. In terms of financing, our Fiji students, like those of the other two universities in Fiji, have access to the National Toppers NTS and TELS schemes, which provide valuable financial assistance. This policy of making higher education accessible to our youths by the Government of Fiji is highly commendable.   

Our programmes are highly relevant to the labour market. Last year, 77 percent of our graduates had obtained full-time or part-time jobs within four months of graduating—and we compare well with the Australian universities against which we benchmark. We will continue to improve on this as we engage even more strongly with industry, provide more work experience, and above all provide students with internationally accredited programmes with the knowledge, skills, competencies, values and mindsets needed by the labour market—and demanded by rapidly changing societies and economies.

The University is guided on its path to excellence by our Strategic Plan which was launched in 2013 and sets an excellent target for our staff and students in our respective areas which should see us realize our goal of being recognized internationally as the region’s knowledge hub by our 50th anniversary in 2018.

USP and other tertiary institutions in the Pacific have been challenged by our Governments and other stakeholders to expand access to higher education, and we are therefore undertaking significant capital developments. By the end of September this year, we will have a new modern Campus in Kiribati. We are also doing a major upgrade of new premises acquired by the RMI government for the RMI Campus. Next year we will build a 450-bed hostel for Laucala, and hope to commence construction of a large modern campus in Solomon Islands.

Major improvements have also been made to USPNet, our communications and information system, so that it now provides better connectivity to all our campuses with some of our member countries like Tonga, RMI, and Vanuatu now having access to fibre-optic cables, and others like Samoa and Solomon Islands in the pipeline. USP will be able to use new technologies to deliver a high-quality education to more people at an affordable cost.
The University has evolved over the years to become not only the premier provider of higher education in the region but an exemplary organization  for regional cooperation and this is why you should choose USP – we are in the Pacific and our programmes and courses are designed and customized to best serve the Pacific Region and its people.

This day, however, is not only to listen but to EXPERIENCE what USP life is all about. Therefore, I encourage you to make the most of this opportunity and to explore every aspect of university life on offer for you, be inquisitive and to probe our academic advisors to explain every dimension of the career you wish to pursue.

I hope you will enjoy Open Day 2015, and I look forward to seeing you at USP next year.  

Ladies and gentlemen it is now my great pleasure and honour to introduce our Chief Guest:

•    Major General (Retired)  Jioji Konusi Konrote is one of Fiji’s most Outstanding and Decorated Military Officer
•    He was educated in Fiji and abroad.
•    He is a Graduate of the:
-    New Zealand Army, Administration & Tactical Schools, WAIQURU;
-    Australian Army Officer Cadet School, PORTSEA;
-    Australian Army Command & Staff College, QUEENSCLIFF;
-    (Fellow) of the Australian College of Defence & Strategic Studies;
-   John F Kennedy School of Government, HARVARD UNIVERSITY (United States of America) – Programme for Senior Executives in National Defence and International Security.

•    As a soldier Hon KONROTE had served with the 1st Ranger Squadron, Special Air Service of the New Zealand Army (NZSAS). He had served as a Platoon Commander with the 1st Battalion of the Royal Hampshire Regiment and a Staff Officer in the Headquarters of the 51st Infantry Brigade, British Far East Land Forces in Hong Kong.

•    Within the Republic of the Fiji Military Forces, Hon Konrote served as a Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion Fiji Infantry Regiment, (United Nations Interim Forces Lebanon) UNIFIL and was appointed Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff RFMF from 1988 to 1996.

•    In 1997-1999, he was appointed as an Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations and took over as the Force Commander UNIFIL.

•    Hon Konrote retired from Active Service within the ranks of the RFMF at the end of his term as UNIFIL Force Commander and was appointed Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs & Immigration in 2000.

•    In 2002, he was appointed as Fiji’s High Commissioner to the Commonwealth of Australia and Ambassador Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Singapore.

•    In the 2006 General Elections, Hon Konrote was elected to Parliament as the Member for Rotuma and appointed as the Minister of State for Ex-Servicemen & Immigration.

•    He returned to his home island of Rotuma in 2007 and was a community worker until the 2014 General Elections when he was again re-elected into Parliament and appointed Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations in the present FIJIFIRST Bainimarama led Government.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, as we can see, our Chief Guest has a most distinguished career in military, public and international service and it is a distinct pleasure and honour for me now to invite him to address us.

Vinaka Vakalevu, Dhanyabad, and Thank you.

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