Office of the Vice-Chancellor

Office of the Vice-Chancellor

Address by Professor Richard Coll, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Learning Teaching and Student Services at the Medals and Prizes Ceremony 2018

Greetings and Welcome

  • His Excellency Major General (Retíd) Jioji Konusi Konrote, USP Chancellor and Mrs Sarote Konrote; 
  • Mr Winston Thompson, Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council and Mrs Queenie Thompson;
  • Honourable Ministers and Senior Officials of the Fijian Government;  
  • Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
  • Members of Council, Senate, FIC and ARC;
  • Members of the Senior Management Team and senior staff  of USP;
  • Our Valued Sponsors;
  • Recipients of Medals and Prizes;
  • Families and Friends of Medals and Prizes Recipients;
  • Media Representatives; and
  • Ladies and Gentlemen 

It gives me great pleasure in welcoming you to this yearís Medals and Prizes ceremony to honour our high achievers. Thank you for taking out time to celebrate this important and momentous occasion in our students lives. This occasion is even more special and memorable as we mark 50 years of our existence this year with celebrations planned throughout the year. 

I extend a warm welcome to the Chancellor, His Excellency Major General (Retíd) Jioji Konusi Konrote and Mrs Sarote Konrote to their first Medal and Prizes awards ceremony. Your presence here tonight, is greatly appreciated and has made this event extra-special for our awardees. 

Honouring our High Achievers 

Ladies and gentlemen, tonight we honour a very special group of young, talented and promising future leaders. These students have proved that our Pacific region is full of brilliant and talented individuals, who have the drive to excel and compete against other students, anywhere in the world. 

These awards are but a small tribute to honoring your hard work, dedication and accomplishments in your respective fields of study. Each one of you here tonight has been chosen purely on merit. And as we celebrate our 50th anniversary year, we are proud that you all are excellent ambassadors of this University. 

The road to excellence requires hard work, dedication, focus, ambition, commitment and countless sacrifices. It is not an easy path. Our young achievers have shown us that anything is possible if one has the right mindset, attitude and inspiration to achieve. You are stars of tonightís function. I want to personally thank you for bringing credit to yourselves, your families, countries and the University.

I must take this opportunity to also congratulate your parents, guardians, spouses, families and friends, who have given you such a strong foundation to excel. This is a proud occasion for them as well. The award that you will receive today signifies not only your achievements, but is also a reward for those that have stood by you in your path to success.  

At this juncture, I would also like to commend all the support staff from the different Faculties and Sections present here tonight. You have played a key role in the success of these students and I applaud your efforts at ensuring that quality in learning, teaching and research is maintained here at USP. 


A special welcome to all our sponsors, who have supported the winners in their respective categories and some of you have supported us over many years. We remain very grateful to all our sponsors (including our new ones) who have sponsored the prizes in our 50th year.

I wanted to mention that our corporate sponsors have funded 34 awards for this event tonight.

The partnership between the private sector and the University has seen greater collaboration with our students gaining practical knowledge and research opportunities with the best organisations in the region.  We appreciate the trust and confidence that you have in our institution and your faith in the potential of our students.

Notable Achievements are Possible at USP

Academic excellence is the cornerstone of any good university. We have a lot to be proud of, and today we have an institution that is markedly more flexible, resilient, and innovative than ever before.  

An institution is only as great as its people. Our student experience, characterised by talented academics, inspiring research, plentiful opportunities for debate and enrichment, access to multicultural activities and friendly sporting and cultural events that build up Pacific consciousness, is one of USPís biggest strengths, and that student experience is shaped by USP staff.  I am so grateful that USP staff members are committed to offering students the very best educational experience and value for money.  Our Member Countries and their citizens and our development partnersí count on this commitment that we will always strive to do better. 

The University is an excellent regional institution inspiring the minds of thousands of bright and young people, broadening their thinking and mindset towards respect for other cultures and the importance of co-operation and integration. 

Our students and staff no doubt aim for excellence in all that they do and this is clearly evident in the recent achievements by our students and staff.  Recently, a staff, who is also our alumni, Mr Sanjeet Chand from the Centre of Flexible Learning created a new Application called Snap TopUp, which has the potential to support mobile devices. The application allows a user to top up or recharge mobile phones with credit using the phoneís camera by scanning the card which is a better and safer way of doing this.  

A team from the School of Marine Studies, recently partnered with Bluewater Crafts and came with a design for Portable Fish Smoker, that is simple to use and which uses around one (1) kilogram of firewood to smoke ten (10) kilograms of fish. This innovation came about after being prompted by our Chancellor H.E Major General (Retíd) Konrote during his tour of the University after his installation. The Portable Fish Smoker allows smoked fish to stay in room temperature for up to two (2) days without spoiling, in a normal four-degree fridge, it could last  up to two (2) weeks depending on the humidity around, and in the freezer it could be kept forever. I would like to personally applaud the staff and students for creating these types of innovative products which contribute to the betterment of our daily lives. 

Furthermore, three (3) USP inventions received patent certification under the Australian Patents Act in 2017. They were the Braille Slate to Teach Children with Visual Disabilities by Mr Nikhil Singh, Mr .Vinaal Prakash, Ms Monika Koroi-Robinson and Dr Utkal Mehta; the Aromatic Network for Power Distribution System by Dr F M Rabiul Islam, Dr. Kabir Mamun, Mr. Krishneel Prakash and Mr Avneel Lallu; and the GSM-Based Early Flood Warning and Monitoring System by Mr Sheikh Azid, Dr Bibhya Sharma, Mr. Reginald Nath, Mr. Vikrant Sharma, Mr. Abhinendra Chand, Mr Sumeet Prasad and Ms Angele Jacquier. 

Such innovative thinking and creativity serves to depict that the quality of education received at the University enables identification of game-changing and sustainable solutions to real life-challenges facing our societies in the Pacific region.

Our Winning Students

The students you see on the stage before you have set very high standards. They have raised the bar higher for others to aspire. We are pleased that there are students at the University who are willing to strive for the best, rather than settle for average performances.

To the winning students, I congratulate you and hope that you do realise that you have the ability to be outstanding throughout your life. You will find that being bright is not the only ingredient of success in life. To be exceptionally successful in life, you will need to have high ethical standards; be able to work within a team environment; be solution driven; work extremely hard and smart; have the drive to excel; have the ability to listen to understand and be a life-long learner.

On this occasion, where most of you will begin your professional journey, my advice to each and every one of you is to believe that the future can be better than the present and to believe in yourself to make that change. Each one of you after graduation will be tasked to carry the responsibility of contributing to the development of your respective families, countries and region. I hope that all the lessons, ethics and values that you have acquired at the University will enable you to always make the right decisions/choices and assist you in leading a prosperous life both economically and socially. The qualifications and certifications that you will receive as part of your graduation, is not only your ticket to a good life, but it gives you the power to change the world for the better. 

Ladies and gentlemen, there will be a total of 1,774 students graduating on Thursday 22nd and Friday, 23rd March in a two day ceremony. This is an increase of 94 graduates as compared to the number of graduates in the same graduation ceremony last year. 

Tonight we are acknowledging top achievers in 58 categories. The Medals and Prizes ceremony tonight is also a very special one because of the record number of categories and high achievers we have this year. Our categories of awards have increased by 9 awards this year, which is very impressive and shows that our students are excelling in their chosen field of study. 

I am delighted to note that twenty-seven (27) out of our fifty-two (52) awardees tonight are females. This is a progressive number of top achievers for women from this region and I am pleased to say that USP is doing its part in ensuring the full participation of women and girls in the area of higher education and we are pressing for change through education.  

I am also happy to note that we have three (3) students here tonight who will be awarded the Vice-Chancellor and Presidentís all-rounder award. This is not only  a proud moment for these students, but also for the University to have students who are not only doing well academically but also are socially responsible and have provided outstanding service to the University over the duration of their programme. These students, ladies and gentlemen, have gone above and beyond what is expected of USP students and have provided their service to the wider community over the duration of their studies at the University.  

Amongst these awardees, we have 24 students who have been sponsored under various scholarship schemes such as the National Toppers Scheme, Tertiary Education and Loan Scheme (TELS), Australian Awards Pacific Scholarship, Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment Graduate Assistant scholarship, Pacific Scholarship for Excellence in Research and Innovation, and USPís staff sponsorship scheme.

No doubt, this is a proud moment for all these scholarship providers to see your sponsored students excel in their chosen field of study. 

It is also good to note that apart from our Fiji awardees, there are nine (9) students from our regional member countries including 2 from Kiribati, 2 from Vanuatu, 2 from Tonga and 1 each from Samoa, Niue and the Republic of Marshall Islands. In addition to that, we have 1 international student from Pakistan amongst our high achievers.  

Our regional and international students are not lagging behind in the pursuit for excellence and I wish to applaud them for their excellent efforts despite being away from home and their loved ones.   

The University, ladies and gentlemen, prides itself on not only being a platform for secondary school achievers but is also an enabling environment for our mid-career entrants and I would like especially praise these mature entrants present here tonight, who have had the courage and ambition to pursue higher education. 

Our Pacific Technical and Further Education, more commonly known as Pacific TAFE, is one of the fastest growing arms of the University. This year Pacific TAFE has increased the number of prizes from 11 to 18, in an effort to ensure that our mature entrants are given the same recognition as all other students of the University. We pride ourselves on being able to address the education needs of people from different demographics. 

I take this opportunity to invite all our graduates and high achievers to join our over 47000 alumni through the USPís Alumni Network.

Excellence at USP   

The University has been a leader in tertiary education in the region through the quality of our programmes which are accredited to international standards. Accreditation is what differentiates us most from other tertiary and higher education providers in the region. This is why employers value us and the reason we are the first choice for students, parents and governments. 

Currently, we have a total of twenty-six (26) programmes internationally accredited and ten (10) recognised.  

The University continues to make progress with its plan for WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) accreditation, In April this year; USP will be hosting the first Seeking Accreditation Visit 1 (SAV 1) after a successful Mock Seeking Accreditation Visit in November 2017. The University is pursuing the WSCUC accreditation to allow our qualifications to be recognised by Universities in America. 

All our accreditations further demonstrate that our programmes are comparable to those universities in Australia, New Zealand and beyond.

USP is certainly looking forward to a very exciting year ahead and in our quest to achieve excellence; we have, as an institution embarked on improving facilities for this academic year. 

In May this year, USP will be opening a new Campus in Nauru. This is apart from the new campuses which have already been opened at the Republic of Marshall Islands in 2017 and in Kiribati in 2015.  We are also working towards our new campus in Solomon Islands as well.

50th Anniversary in 2018 

This year is certainly an historic year for the University, as we celebrate our golden jubilee with events marked in all our campuses throughout this year.  

2018 provides an opportunity for us to use the learnings and relationships established over the past 50 years, to achieve even greater outcomes in the future. Towards the end of our 50th Anniversary year, we will be releasing our strategic plan for the next 6 year cycle. USP is confident that the next 50 years will be even more exciting than the last and it will go from an excellent to a great university.  We trust that all of you will be part of USPís continuing journey of achievement and service. 

Ladies and gentlemen, I wish to once again congratulate the recipients on the Medals and Prizes, and have the pleasure of requesting the Master of Ceremonies to commence with the awards. 

Vinaka Vakalevu, and Thank you.

Tuesday, 20 March, 2018 (6.00pm)
Japan Ė Pacific ICT Multi-Purpose Theatre

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