The 92nd Council meeting of The University of the South Pacific held virtually, successfully concluded on Friday 12 November 2021.
The USP Council is the highest decision-making body of the University, and usually meets twice a year to discuss the affairs of the University.
Members of the Council comprise the Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council, the Vice-Chancellor and President, Deputy Pro-Chancellor, representatives of the 12 Member-Country Governments, Australia and New Zealand Government representatives, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat Secretary General, USP Senate Representatives, Staff representatives, Student representatives and Co-opted members.
The two-day meeting was chaired by the Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council, Mr Winston Thompson, while the Deputy Pro-Chancellor chaired the final agenda item. The Pro-Chancellor noted it was his last Council meeting and expressed his honour of chairing the Council meeting for the past six years and wished the incoming Pro-Chancellor well in the role.
The Council noted reports from the Pro-Chancellor and the Vice-Chancellor and President on activities undertaken since their report at the last Council meeting.
The Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Pal Ahluwalia said the University was delivering its priorities successfully despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges it presented.
The Council was updated on the finances of the University and noted the change in auditors from PWC to KPMG. Concerns were raised by the Committee on the ongoing challenges as a result of Fiji’s withheld grant.
The Council approved the proposed Strategic Plan 2022-2024 and noted that Council had approved seventeen (17) high level KPIs for the University in 2019. Management is currently monitoring and reviewing the KPIs for the new Strategic Plan to be presented to the May 2022 Council meeting.
The Council noted the forecast of Income and Expenditure, cash flows and financial position of the University as at 31 December 2021. It further noted the financial impact and risks associated with not receiving Fiji’s grant and advised the Council to resolve the matter amicably.
The Council adopted the Proposed Annual Plan for 2022 and noted the financial strategies and scenarios for next year. The Council approved the Financial Plan for 2022 and adopted the Audited Financial Statements for the half-year ended 30 June 2021.
The Council accepted the risk profile of the University and the changes in risk rating for Delivery of Quality Education, Research and Innovation, Privacy & Confidentiality, Human Resources and Business Continuity Risk.
The Council considered a report by the University Senate and instituted two new programmes;
- Bachelor of Education in Early Childhood Education; and
- Care and Bachelor of Education Primary.
The Council noted the report on the University’s responses to ensure the continuity of learning and teaching in a COVID-19 environment including an update on academic quality assurance and accreditation of the University.
While noting an update on the work undertaken by Management on the implementation of recommendations made in the Commission’s Report, the Council approved the variation to the Terms of Reference (TOR) for the Executive Committee. The Council appointed the three (3) member-country Council representatives of the Republic of Nauru, Kingdom of Tonga and Republic of Vanuatu to the Governance and Nominations Committee where Nauru was appointed as Chair of the Committee. The Committee will appoint the two (2) independent members.
The Council approved the following changes to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (DVC) titles to accurately reflect and better align the DVC positions to their portfolios:
- Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Education)
- Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Research and Innovation)
- Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Regional Campuses and Global Engagement).
The Council approved a proposal to amend the Staff Ordinance provisions on Sick Leave to qualify three-months sick leave as “inpatient” sick leave, noting that the Staff Unions have been consulted and fully support the proposed change.
Finally, Council resolved to refer appointments for Council committees to the Governance and Nominations Committee. This is a new Council committee proposed by the Commission to have stronger oversight on appointments to Council and its committees.
The next USP Council is scheduled to be held on 19th and 20th May 2022.