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USP Pro Vice-Chancellor (Flexible Learning) to be part of International Panel of Judges

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Professor Som Naidu will be part of an international panel of distinguished judges for the Global Teaching Excellence Award.

The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Pro Vice-Chancellor (Flexible Learning) and Director of the Centre for Flexible Learning, Professor Som Naidu has been invited to join an international panel of distinguished judges for the Higher Education Academy’s Global Teaching Excellence Award (GTEA).

GTEA is a new global award for teaching and learning in higher education and is the first of its kind, with the distinct purpose of recognising and celebrating institutional commitment to driving teaching and learning excellence.

The award recognises that teaching excellence is contextually specific and therefore will require applicants to clearly evidence how the impact of their strategy supports their particular vision for and definition of teaching excellence.

While extending the invitation to Professor Naidu, the Chief Executive Officer of the Higher Education Academy, Professor Stephanie Marshall stated that the Academy will be honoured to have Professor Naidu to be part of the panel of distinguished judges.

“We are proud to provide this platform to recognise and celebrate institutions offering truly outstanding teaching in higher education,” Professor Marshall said during the launch of the award in February this year.

Professor Naidu will be part of a panel of twenty (20) judges who are made up of experts from across the continents, who will bring both their academic rigour and professional experience of the impact of teaching excellence to the process.

The panel will be led by Ms Svava Bjarnason, former Principal Education Specialist at the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

Professor Naidu said that getting the invitation to be part of the panel was an honour. He added that it recognises his work in this area over many years and his significant achievements in the scholarship of teaching and learning in various jurisdictions for several decades now.

According to the Pro Vice-Chancellor, the invitation to GTEA’s international panel of judges is aimed at flagging the crucial role that USP has played in building capacity among the communities it serves for half a century and in the most difficult of the circumstances.  

“I think my invitation to such a distinguished panel is also intended to highlight the very significant role of USP in relation to innovations in teaching and learning at all levels in various forms throughout the region,” Professor Naidu said.

Education, he highlighted, is the greatest leveler of all, as without it there can be no real freedom, equality or justice.

The engagement with GTEA, Professor Naidu said, is clearly flagging the start of a close collaboration between United Kingdom’s Higher Education Academy and USP in the professional development of staff in the higher education sector.

USP Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Rajesh Chandra congratulated Professor Naidu and said that being part of the distinguished panel of judges is a major recognition for him and the University as a whole.

Institutional entries to GTEA will be assessed against three (3) main areas: Excellence in the Leadership of Teaching and Learning; Excellence in Teaching; and Excellence in Student Support. 

The judging process will be two-stage, with the final decisions being made by the international panel, in which Professor Naidu is a part of.

Peer reviewers will undertake an initial assessment of all submissions against the award criteria to create a ‘longlist’ of 100. The 50 highest quality submissions will be sent to the international judging panel.

The panel will then meet virtually to discuss and reach a consensus decision on the overall winner, plus the 25 institutions that will form the shortlist.

The top 25 shortlisted institutional entrants and judges will be invited to a prestigious award ceremony in London on 4 September 2017.

This high profile ceremony provides a platform for the participants to promote and celebrate their achievements and to connect with fellow institutional leaders from across the world.

Professor Naidu has spent most of his professional life in the higher education sector in a variety of roles to do with enhancing learning and teaching practices in open and flexible learning, as well as education more generally in various jurisdictions and contexts ranging from those in developing regions such as the South Pacific Islands, India, Sri Lanka and Africa, to developed contexts such as in New Zealand, Canada, United Kingdom, USA and Australia, and the People Republic of China.

An immediate past president of the Open and Distance Learning Association of Australia (OODLA), Professor Naidu is Executive Editor of its journal Distance Education. In May 2014 the Open University of Sri Lanka awarded Professor Naidu a D.Litt. (Honoris Causa), in recognition of his extensive contribution to the field of open, flexible, distance and e-learning both regionally and internationally.

This news item was published on 2 Jun 2017 09:39:42 am. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email

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