Office of the Vice-Chancellor

Office of the Vice-Chancellor

Address by Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President at Open Day 2018 on Friday 27 July 2018

1. Acknowledgement and Greetings

  • The Chief Guest, Honourable Rear Admiral (Ret’d) Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, Prime Minister of the Republic of Fiji;
  • Government Ministers;
  • Mr. Winston Thompson Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council and Mrs. Thompson;
  • Professor Pal Ahluwalia, Vice-Chancellor & President Designate and Mrs. Ahluwalia;
  • Excellences and Heads of the Diplomatic Corps and International and Regional Organisations;
  • Members of University Council and its Committees and Senate and its committees;
  • Mr. Sunil Sharma, Chair of the University Grants Committee;
  • Senior Government Officials;
  • Senior Management Team, Staff, Alumni and Students of USP;
  • Staff and Student Leaders;
  • Principals, Teachers and their Students;
  • Ladies and Gentlemen.

Ni Sa Yadra, Namaste and a very Good Morning to all.

On behalf of the University, it is my honour and privilege to welcome most warmly the Prime Minister of the Republic of Fiji, Honourable Rear Admiral (Ret’d) Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, as the Chief Guest for our 2018 Open Day. Thank you very much, Sir, that despite your known busy schedule, you agreed to be our Chief Guest this year as we mark and celebrate our 50th Anniversary. We see this yet another example of the support of the Fijian government for USP and recognition of the role we play in the development of Fiji and our other member countries.

Fiji has supported the University from the very beginning and we acknowledge that under your leadership, Sir, the Fijian Government has made education not only a major priority but accessible and affordable to Fijians. Let me also welcome our distinguished guests; secondary school students, their principals and teachers; parents and guardians; sponsors; and media organisations to our 2018 Open Day.

2. Five Decades of Tertiary Education to Pacific Islanders

As we celebrate five decades of achievement, we welcome you all to our beautiful campuses, and invite you to learn about why we are so proud of this unique University that has propelled so many Fijians and Pacific Islanders to successful careers and great impact nationally, regionally and internationally. Our member Governments’ support, with Fiji being the largest contributor, has entrusted us to offer you the best possible education for a successful future.

Over the past several years, Fiji Government has successfully rolled out the Toppers Scholarship and Tertiary Education Loan Scheme (TELS) that has given every Fijian student who qualifies for tertiary education a chance to undertake tertiary education and which is increasingly looked upon as a possible model for the rest of the Pacific. Honourable Prime Minister, we commend you and your Government for such bold initiatives and allocating a record $1 billion to education in the 2018-2019 Budget to create a smart and prosperous Fiji.

3. What USP Offers to Students?

With its 14 campuses in its 12 member countries, numerous international accreditations, flexibility in mode of study, strong employability of our graduates and affordability, USP is clearly a very good option for students.

USP gives you a choice of a comprehensive range of relevant academic programmes, many of which can be pursued at all campuses and in a variety of formats- face-to-face, online, flexible learning, or via a mixture of modes. In addition, our students have access to the Disability Resource Centre, which caters specifically for the needs of students with disabilities.

4. For USP Quality is Priority

The USP’s founding document, the Morris Report, said that the Pacific people needed a university of esteem, of reputation. Today, it is widely acknowledged that USP has this esteem, this reputation nationally, regionally and very importantly, internationally. So far, the University has achieved 27 accreditations and 15 recognitions for our programmes. We expect to obtain many more accreditations as this remains a major priority for the University.

The most important recent validation of our quality is the fact that USP has now been accredited by the American accrediting agency, WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), valid for six years. This accreditation is different from the accreditation of particular programmes as it is the accreditation of USP as a whole, and with this, our programmes will be recognized in US.

5. Innovative and Smart Student/Staff Community

The University has some very bright students who have been producing excellent innovations. We have registered eight innovation patents with the Australian Patent Office, and last week we launched a number of Apps developed by our students and staff. If you join, you will get a chance to excel and innovate—and secure your future.

6. Use of Technology in Education

Serving our students and ensuring high quality student success is at the core of our mission. We are recognised internationally as a pioneer in the use of ICT for education. While at USP, you will have access to one of the most sophisticated learning networks and systems with access to the latest technologies that will make it easier for you to study and succeed, remain connected with friends and family at home and well prepared for the highly digitalized world awaiting us.

We provide tablet computers to our first year degree students to enable mobile learning: when you want and where you want. We utilise mobile apps for learning and communication and keep our computer labs and networks updated and open for long hours. Our campuses are Wi-Fi enabled and we will keep upgrading our facilities so that students are assured of having the same tech-friendly experience as students overseas. Our students also have access to some world-class labs with very committed, friendly and innovative lecturers, professors and researchers.

7. Conclusion

Today’s Open Day is very special. I encourage you to visit the labs, experiments and displays of the Faculties and Pacific TAFE, talk to staff, and have fun. Have a great experience at USP today and make the right choice to achieve your dreams.

8. Introduction of Chief Guest

It is now my profound pleasure and honour to introduce our Chief Guest:

  • Honourable Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama is the democratically elected Prime Minister of Fiji after leading his FijiFirst party to a decisive victory in the 2014 General Election.
  • Hon. Bainimarama has been the Fijian Prime Minister since 2007. Under his leadership, Fiji has undergone transformational change towards a modern, progressive, inclusive and smart Fiji.
  • He has united Fijians and created a strong state with a common name, secured a good future with his consistent insistence on merit and performance, and dealt with crippling problems of racism and the politicization of land.
  • The Prime Minister has made the delivery of basic services – such as education, health, clean water, electricity, roads and affordable mobile and Internet – his Government’s top priority.
  • Under the Prime Minister’s leadership, Fiji has vastly increased its international standing and networking.
  • He was the Co-President of the first ever UN Conference on Oceans that galvanized international action to protect our oceans.
  • The Prime Minister holds the COP23 Presidency and is one of the leading global voices calling on the international community to commit to more ambitious targets to curb the carbon emissions that are warming our planet. Joining his fellow leaders from the Pacific, he is committed to drawing global attention to the impact climate change is having on vulnerable communities, including Pacific Islanders and the residents of other Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and low-lying areas of the world.
  • Under his leadership, Fiji was the first country to ratify the Paris Agreement. It has also offered to give permanent refuge to the people of Kiribati and Tuvalu should their countries become uninhabitable due to rising sea levels—setting a good example of generosity for the world. As the President of COP23, the Prime Minister has issued a worldwide call for every level of government, every section of civil society, and all businesses great and small to join him in forging a “Grand Coalition” to defend the collective agenda and increase the momentum for change, with a particular focus on climate adaptation and building resilience.
  • Honourable Bainimarama held the position of Commander of the Royal Fiji Military Forces for 15 years and retired from the Military on 5 March 2014 at the rank of Rear Admiral after 39 years of service.
  • Hon. Bainimarama was born in Suva and was educated at Marist Brothers High School. He is married to Maria Makitalena and they have six (6) children and seventeen (17) grandchildren.
  • His interests include all sports, in particular rugby union, athletics, Military history and current affairs.

I now have great pleasure in requesting the Honourable Prime Minister to deliver his keynote address and officially open the 2018 USP Open Day.

Vinaka Vakalevu, Dhanyavaad, Thank You

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