Message to Students -  Office of the Vice-Chancellor

Vice-Chancellor and Presidentís Message to Students in 2018

I extend a very warm welcome to all USP students for the year 2018. This year marks USPís 50th year of service to the Pacific Islands.  As an enrolled student, you are part of our community- whether this is the start of your studies or you have been with us for a few semesters or academic years, you will be a valued part of our celebrations in this very special Golden Jubilee Year.

2. Some of your parents or grandparents might have been part of our first class, which graduated in 1971.   The establishment of a university for the Pacific Islands was incredibly exciting news. That generation had been brought up to think about going abroad to study, or simply did not even consider, for social or economic reasons, that tertiary studies were a possibility. 

3. Thankfully, times have changed and USP has made it possible for more Pacific Islanders to access its high-quality educational offerings, online or at one of its 14 campuses in 12 Pacific Island Member Countries. USP today is very different to the small university that was set up 50 years ago. We have grown and developed from strength to strength.  I doubt that anyone 50 years ago would have predicted that USP would become the success that it is today, with over 30,000 students, with many accredited academic programmes, world-class research outputs, and a unique Pacific character.  

4. This year we will be celebrating USPís five decades of impacts for the Pacific Islands. Every community in our region has benefited from USP; either from the work of its graduates, its research projects, its work on education or the policy advice that has helped Member Governments provide services and manage development. 

5. USP is a significant player in the Pacific Islands, and takes very seriously its role as the regionís university, research hub, and development organisation. USP exists for the Pacific Islands and is determined to deliver results that are consistent with its Member Countriesí priorities. One of those results is well-qualified graduates, ready to join the work force. As a current student, you are USPís priority. This University will provide the teaching and the support required to ensure your success.

6. All current students have a special role to play in the Golden Jubilee celebrations and will enjoy many opportunities that are specific to 2018.  Itís a great time to be a member of the USP community.  You will learn about USPís beginnings, connect with alumni, take part in exhibitions and shows, access special lectures, and benefit from being on campus in this anniversary year. I hope this grows your pride in our University and that you understand that you are part of its success.  

7. This year at the University, it is not just celebrations! We all have hard work to do as well.  As you commence classes and research this Academic Year, I encourage you to set both short and long term goals for yourself. This will keep you on track, and good progress toward your goals will give you the time and flexibility to pursue new opportunities as they arise, without fear of getting behind. Your Academic Advisors and Student Services will help you to map out your Academic Plan and will advise you on the importance of matters such as budgeting and work-life balance. Here at USP we have so many extracurricular offerings that you will really be missing out if you do not participate in groups and activities.  

8. The start of the year is also a good time to think about your post-graduation plans. While it might seem funny to advise you to think about your life beyond USP now, as I welcome you to the University, it is essential that you do.  There is no better time to do this than at the start of the year. After all, if you have not thought about your destination, how will you plan your journey? We prefer that USP students, even those that are not at all sure of their intended academic major, come up with a few options in terms of career plans.  

9. At USP, we prepare you with the academic qualifications and develop in our students those graduate attributes that are attractive to employers. You must also take an active role in this process. Firstly, seek out leadership experience. This can take a variety of forms; you might wish to lead an extracurricular club, you might be a leader in your religious community, you might take on extra responsibility in your Residence Hall or in the laboratory, or you might provide tutoring to new students. It is important to find a way to develop your leadership skills. 

10. Secondly, I implore you to think about building practical work experience into your university plans. If you are studying outside your home country, there may be restrictions on your ability to work, but you should be able to assist a professor/lecturer or build an internship in your plans for semester or summer break. Having an internship on your CV will distinguish you from other job seekers. 

11. Thirdly, USP is a very diverse university. I advise you to make a concerted effort to develop friendships with students from other countries and cultural backgrounds. There is much that you can learn from each other, and having the ability to engage positively and effectively with people from other cultures will also make you attractive to employers.

12. With the 50th Anniversary Celebrations going on, numerous extracurricular activities available, many new friends to be made, and your long-term and career goals in mind, you might fear that it will be difficult to focus on your studies. Focus is incredibly important, as it is only when you delve deep into a subject that new ideas will spring to mind and new insights will be gained. 

13. I encourage you to focus on your studies, but also to carve out time for yourself. It is important for our physical and mental health to take breaks from intense academic focus.  Those breaks will make you more able to concentrate on your academic work, will refresh you and help your creativity, and will ensure that you learn some things at USP that cannot be taught in books or online.  Those things include how to communicate with people from a different country and how to live a balanced life. Focus and balance are the key; just as it would not be healthy to study non-stop, failure to prepare for classes and complete homework is not healthy or acceptable. You will need to figure out, with the help of friends and advisors, your own optimal work-life balance. You will be at an advantage having figured this out at USP, as there will be many obligations and distractions after graduation.  The key to remember is that there are so many supportive resources at USP.  Our staff are ready to help you have a wonderful experience, marked by personal happiness and academic success.  Let our staff help you to keep your focus and find your optimal work-life balance.

14. Welcome to 2018 at the University of the South Pacific.   I hope to meet many of you during the cause of the year.  I wish you all the best for a successful academic year, and hope you heed my advice to think about your career plans and try to establish an optimal work-life balance. USP staff are eager to help and support you as you embark on another year of studies at this University of which we are all incredibly proud to be a part.


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