Office of the Vice-Chancellor

Office of the Vice-Chancellor

Address by Professor Pal Ahluwalia, Vice-Chancellor & President, Graduation ceremony at the Laucala Campus – FALE & FSTE, Thursday 19th September

  • The Chancellor, Her Excellency the President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Dr Hilda Heine
  • The Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council of The University of the South Pacific, Mr Winston Thompson 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
  • Members of the University Senior Management Team
  • Graduands, families and friends
  • Members of staff and students
  • Ladies and Gentlemen

Welcome and Greetings

Welcome, Ni Sa Bula vinaka, Namaste and warm Pacific greetings to you all.

It gives me great pleasure to join the Pro-Chancellor in welcoming you to The University of the South Pacific’s second Graduation ceremony for 2019.

I would like to specially welcome the University’s Chancellor, Her Excellency the President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Dr Hilda Heine, who is officiating at her first University graduation since taking up the role of Chancellor from the 1st of July this year. Thank you Your Excellency for gracing this occasion and making it so much more special for our graduands.

A very warm welcome also to all our graduands. I am delighted that so many of you have joined us today and it is a great honour to welcome such a diverse community including those who have travelled far from their island homes.

Graduation Numbers

This graduation will see 1735 graduates receive their certificates, diplomas and degrees, one of the highest so far for USP, therefore 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. The students of Pacific TAFE will graduate in the second session this afternoon while students from the Faculty of Business and Economics will graduate in the third session tomorrow morning.

Of the overall 1735 graduands, I am pleased to announce that sixty-five percent (65%) are females. This is an increase of five percent (5%) compared to our last graduation held earlier in March this year.

This morning’s graduation ceremony is for the graduates from the Faculty of Arts, Law and Education and the Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment. We have 258 graduands from FALE and 202 from FSTE. I am proud to mention that in this session, we have 14 graduands who will receive their Masters degrees and 2 will receive their PhD for FALE. For FSTE, we have 19 graduands who will receive their Masters degrees and 4 will receive their PhD.

These are significant numbers and testimony to the quality and excellence that is prevalent within our University.

To the Graduands

I am delighted to be here with you today on this important occasion in our graduands’ lives. To each of you, I offer my congratulations. What you have 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.

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.

At this juncture, I invite our graduands to stand up and thank your family, friends and supporters with a warm round of applause. They have worked hard to ensure that you are able to graduate today.

Please be seated after the applause

While this is a day of celebration, it also represents a point of departure for some of you, from studying at the University of the South Pacific to a new stage, where you have the opportunity to make your mark in the community. The University has endeavoured to instil in you, a body of knowledge and a set of qualities that will prepare you for your 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.

Your life-long relationship with USP continues today as it started the first day you entered one of our 14 Campuses. You are members of an international community of USP graduates. Please make use of our Alumni Network and keep in touch as you continue your 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.

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. Graduands, today I challenge you all to take the best of our insights, experiences and knowledge, and turn them into actions in order to improve people’s lives and prospects.

USP’s Accomplishments and Aspirations

Let me now focus on some of the major work that we have done so far this year as well the initiation of some key projects. The University Forum on Learning & Teaching, with the theme “The Best Possible Outcome for All Learners, was held at the Japan ICT Centre at the Laucala Campus recently and chartered new approaches essential to our students success.

In terms of Research, researchers from the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) One Ocean Hub Global Challenges Research Fund project joined the international team for a workshop on the first week of August in Cape Town, South Africa. The One Ocean Hub is an ambitious £22 million programme aimed at transforming the global response to the urgent challenges of oceans law, science and governance. USP researchers have been awarded an initial £1.6m to lead key areas of the research of this 5-year project.

As at June 2019, there are 95 new publications of which 75 are journal articles. A total of 250 publications is estimated for the year 2019 compared to the 239 internationally recognised publications indexed by Scopus for 2018.

USP played an important role in the provision of technical expertise to the Pacific delegations to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), through the Micronesian Centre for Sustainable Transport (MCST) based in the Republic of the Marshall Islands and its Law Faculty, by providing online learning opportunities through its regional ICT facilities.

The USPNet Infrastructure Upgrade funded by MFAT is another crucial project that we are implementing which will mitigate against the threat of end of life of satellite infrastructure for regional connectivity to the majority of USP Campuses – while providing an overall transformative impact on regional ICT connectivity services. New Satellites have been installed in Nauru and Tuvalu campuses with installations in other campuses by end of this year.

The University has already signed a Partnership worth AUD 84m with DFAT Australia and is currently working towards Partnership arrangements for 5 years with MFAT (NZ) to be concluded before the end of this year.

Allow me to also briefly reflect on our aspirations. The University is focused on effectively addressing the needs of the region; establishing its international reputation and fostering regionalism. The University 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.

We at the University remain aspirational, energetic and committed to change and success, ensuring an enduring partnership with each of you. There is little doubt that the knowledge, skills and values that you have developed during your studies here at USP will help you become leaders within your communities well into the future.

I urge you to use your new credentials from your 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.

As we celebrate your achievements, we are also looking to the future and the phenomenal potential that you have to benefit your community. Your study has empowered you to cultivate strong roots within your community, to allow you to maintain links with local issues and struggles whilst realising that these are inextricably linked to global imperatives.

Together, we are on the way to shaping the future. Futures are forged by the choices we make today and the way we decide to transfer the knowledge that we have acquired and to make our own “ripples” throughout our world. Futures are forged by the choices we make today and the way we decide to transfer the knowledge we have acquired.

It is an honour for me to address you on a day in which you celebrate one of life’s great milestones. Your family and friends have supported your ambition, drive and focus. I wish you every success and encourage you to be bold and give back to the communities that have not only sustained you but have enabled you to shape a better future for all of us.

Vinaka Vakalevu, Dhanyavaad, Thank you and God Bless.

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