The Open Day was attended by Year twelve high schools in Port Vila and Efate Island. The day began with the popular student float parade through Port Vila.
The Chief Guest, Her Excellency Sarah de Zoeten, High Commissioner of Australia to Vanuatu said, “I am grateful to be able to meet the faculties. I had heard that attending a USP event is like jumping into a “condensed Pacific” as so many island states are represented. Now I can confirm this is true. USP plays an important role in the Pacific and is underpinned by its unique cultural identities. “
Her Excellency said the Australian Government has been a partner of the University from the early days. She also confirmed that since 2014 the Australian Government had provided approximately $14 million (VUV1.1 billion) annually to support USP.
Australia, alongside all the thirteen Pacific countries and New Zealand, is a member of the Council of the University.
The High Commissioner emphasised that education continues to be an important priority for Australia’s engagement with the Pacific. She said, “Education helps individuals, families, communities and nations achieve their aspirations and realise their full potential”.
She also stated that higher education for women is particularly transformative, every additional year of education for women makes a difference to marriage age, fertility rates and health outcomes for women and their children.
The Chief Guest further remarked that education, particularly higher education is a powerful tool to reduce the effects of disadvantage and accelerate economic growth.
“USP has made significant contributions in research, innovation, learning, teaching and community engagement,” she said.
Her Excellency Sarah de Zoeten told the students that a university education gives students access to more choices and opens doors to opportunities.
“The knowledge and skills acquired through higher education give one a tool kit to lead and influence change in your countries. It helps develop strategic thinking skills and sound judgement as well as self-confidence and leadership potential,” she said.
She encouraged all potential students, in particular women, to seriously consider a university education. “As the world is changing around us with the effects of COVID-19 we face challenges which make a tertiary education more important than ever. Prioritising your education will help develop the skills you need to tackle these new challenges, and contribute to your country’s resilience.”
The event was also attended by Hon. Ralph Regenvanu, Vanuatu’s Leader of the Opposition, who is also a USP Alumus; Mr Bergmans Iati, Vanuatu’s Director of Education and Training; a representative each from the Vanuatu National Council of Women; and the Campus Advisory Committee.