Members of the first meeting of PIC Diplomats for 2018 at the USP Laucala Campus.
The University of the South Pacific (USP) held its first Briefing Session for 2018 with the Pacific Island Countries (PICs) Diplomats, based in Fiji on 18 June 2018.
Its main purpose was to brief the PIC Diplomats and Fiji on the University’s recent achievements and key strategic engagements in the region; provide an update on the development of the new Strategic Plan 2019-2024; and discuss means to fostering better collaboration with member countries for the benefit of the Pacific region.
Diplomats who attended the briefing included His Excellency Ratu Tui Cavuilati, Fiji’s Roving Ambassador to the Pacific; H.E. Mr Sebastian Anefal, Ambassador, Embassy of Federated States of Micronesia; Mr Ellison Mason, Officer-In-Charge; Solomon Islands High Commission; Mr Teeta Kabiriera, Kiribati Student Support Officer; Mrs Emma Lauti, Tuvalu Deputy High Commissioner; and Mr Johnson Vora, Second Secretary/Education Attache, Vanuatu High Commission.
USP was represented by Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President, the Senior Management Team and Mr Jaindra Karan, Director Strategic Partnerships, Advancement & Communications (SPAC) and his team.
Professor Chandra welcomed the Diplomats and extended a special welcome to H.E. Ratu Tui Cavuilati, Fiji’s new Roving Ambassador to the Pacific.
He said their presence signified a greater commitment and the bold aspirations of the Pacific Island Governments in supporting and working together with USP towards uplifting the human resource capacity and creating equitable and sustainable development in the region.
Professor Chandra acknowledged the work done by the member countries in leveraging USP’s physical presence in the regional campuses, adding that education has always been at the forefront of building human capacity development in the Pacific.
USP, he said, is in compliance with each of the four Standards of Accreditation that Wasc Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) employs in their evaluation of the University, at the level sufficient for Initial Accreditation following the WSCUC Seeking Accreditation Visit 1 (SAV1) held from 11-13 April 2018. In early July this year, the University will know the result of its WSCUC Accreditation.
H.E. Ratu Cavuilati acknowledged the University’s contribution to the region and expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to be briefed on USP’s developments.
“On behalf of the Fiji Government, I wish to congratulate USP for achieving its milestone of the 50th year anniversary,” he said.
He shared the thoughts echoed earlier by Professor Chandra that on its 50th anniversary celebrations, it would be fitting that USP leave behind legacies of what has been a tremendous achievement in the region.
Mr Teeta Kabiriera, Kiribati Student Support Officer extended greetings from H.E Mr David Teaabo, the Kiribati High Commissioner and also congratulated USP and its contribution to the development of the region in the last 50 years.
Professor Chandra briefed the diplomats on the outcomes of the 86th USP Council Meeting saying that one of the important issues discussed was the University Grants Committee (UGC) submission for the next triennium. He advised that Council had approved the submission which will now be discussed by the UGC in July 2018.
H.E. Ratu Cavuilati noted that hearing the developments of USP was inspiring and wished the University well for the WSCUC Accreditation result.
On the University’s Strategic Plan (SP) 2013-2018, Mr Karan said the University has achieved 82 per cent accomplishment to date. He added that seven Priority Areas (PA) from the current SP are part of the New SP (2019 – 2024) as core areas with the addition of the 8th PA on Regional Cooperation and Integration. The University plays a pivotal role in regional cooperation, being a regional University.
On the status of the USP Convention, Mr Karan confirmed that the USP Convention entered into force on 16 June 2018 following ratifications by seven member countries.
Professor Chandra highlighted that now that the Convention has come into force, it is “an opportunity for member countries to reaffirm their ownership of this University”.
Professor Chandra advised that it would be good to get the remaining five Pacific Island countries to ratify the Convention in the hope to seal it officially as part of USP’s 50th Anniversary.
“The Convention is a reaffirmation of existence and commitment to the University and also the ownership of our member countries, this would be a significant and very emotional legacy,” he stated.
On Papua New Guinea to join USP as a member, Dr Giulio Paunga, Vice-President Regional Campuses and Estates and Infrastructure briefed that discussions are still underway with the Government of PNG through its High Commission in Suva.
With respect to the role of USP in the Development of Education in the region, Professor Chandra stated that following the review of the current Pacific Education Framework (PacREF), a new Framework needs to be developed and it must be ensured that it is aligned to the Council of Regional Organisations of the Pacific (CROP) structure.
He added that USP has the regional mandate for education in the region and chairs the CROP Human Resource Development (HRD) Working Group. Therefore it is logical that the PacREF is managed by the University in close collaboration with the relevant CROP agencies and other organisations, as this will ensure that the region can benefit fully from USP’s ability to bring together its expertise in education, research and policy, together with on-the-ground presence in member states.
H.E. Mr Sebastian Anefal, Ambassador, Embassy of Federated States of Micronesia said their Government expressed appreciation for the opportunity to become a part of USP, saying that it has been a long process.
“I acknowledge that the entire process has been rewarding and very informative for me and I would urge USP to continue to engage with us for the betterment of the Pacific,” he said.
Professor Chandra thanked all respective Diplomats’ and Representatives for their continued efforts in making the briefing a successful on and acknowledged the SMT and the SPAC office for their continued support.
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