Development partners during the Development Partners Forum hosted by USP on 19 September, 2018.
A forum to facilitate discussion between The University of the South Pacific (USP) and its Development Partners was held at the Japan-Pacific ICT Conference Room in the Laucala Campus on 19 September 2018.
Development Partners present at the forum included representatives from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Delegation of the European Union in the Pacific (EU), France, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Asian Development Bank (ADB), United States of America (USA), World Bank, People’s Republic of China, Republic of Indonesia, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The objectives of the Forum were to provide consultation on the draft New USP Strategic Plan (2019-2024) Development; discuss possible ways in which Development Partners’ can assist with areas highlighted in the draft New Strategic Plan; present 50th Anniversary Plans for the remainder of 2018; and make a presentation of projects on which USP requires collaboration.
Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor & President (VC&P) acknowledged that Australia and New Zealand have been the core development partners of the University since its inception in 1968.
He extended a warm welcome to the H.E. Mr John Feakes, Australian High Commissioner; H.E Sujiro Seam, French Ambassador to Fiji; Mr Jonathan Rowe, Counsellor (Development), New Zealand High Commission and development partner representatives from other embassies and agencies; Members of USP’s Senior Management Team (SMT); and other USP staff to the Development Partners Forum (DPF). He highlighted that this forum and participation is very important because it allows the University to share what it is trying to do and how it synergies with the development partners priorities.
He mentioned that the University’s New Strategic Plan (NSP) gives an indication of what the University will be undertaking in specific instances for the next six years which is an important tool to relate to the development partners.
He stated that the year 2018 is a special year of the University as it celebrates its 50th year Anniversary for which many of the stakeholders have been engaged in and many have contributed towards the University’s success.
Professor Chandra highlighted that there had been celebrations in Laucala and across all the regional campuses and stakeholders can participate and attend the remaining events which will be implemented through the remainder of the year, with the Vice-Chancellor’s closing dinner on 13 December.
Furthermore, he informed the Forum that 2018 is the final year for the current Strategic Plan 2013-2018 and the University is pleased that it has made significant progress with 82 per cent achievement of the targets.
“We have also made substantial progress on the development of the New Strategic Plan 2019-2024, having undertaken consultations including in-country consultations, whereby nine (9) out of twelve (12) member countries have been consulted,” he stated.
He informed that this is also the final year for his contract term whereby he has served ten and a half years as the VC&P of the University. He mentioned that the University is pleased that the new VC&P, Professor Pal Ahluwalia has been appointed, whose term will be effective from 1 January 2019.
He highlighted the achievements of the University pertaining to WSCUC accreditation for which USP has been working for the past six years.
He advised that this accreditation aligns the University with the American Academic Institutions which will assist in recruiting students and staff and improve the international reputation of the University.
The development partners expressed deep appreciation to the University for being the premier institute of higher education, for meeting the needs of the Pacific region and also for reaching its 50th anniversary this year.
In particular, His Excellency John Feakes, Australia High Commissioner said Australia has a very proud and long association with USP. He stated that the WSCUC accreditation is testament to the fact that the University is the premier institute of learning in the region and it has delivered value to the region and its members.
“I thank you particularly for your leadership and service to the region. You have shown remarkable passion and dedication which has been reflected in USP’s success. You have made the institution into a far stronger position than when it was inherited and I wish to pay personal tribute to your legacy. You have left some very big shoes to be filled,” he said.
He added that Australia was very proud to participate in USP’s 50th anniversary.
H.E Feakes urged other partners to “invest in USP in confidence, it is money well spent for the region’s future and prosperity”.
Mr Jonathan Rowe, Counsellor (Development), New Zealand High Commission echoed similar sentiments saying that ten and a half years is a long period and it is a huge achievement. He stated that like Australia, NZ has also been a partner of USP since its establishment in 1968.
“One of the reasons we have been committed is that we look at the Pacific region and a lot of our development goals and outcomes are dependent on higher education achievable across the Pacific and USP is our primary partner in that sense,” he noted.
“When we look at USP today as a regional agency and CROP agency it is a fantastic example of regional cooperation. Many countries do not have tertiary institutions of this calibre,” he stated.
He also wished USP well on the transition to the NSP and New Zealand stands ready to continue its support for USP.
Professor Chandra updated the Forum on the New USP Strategic Plan (2019-2024) Development which was followed with a lot of interest, discussion and strong support for the new SP initiatives.
Among other issues, some of the highlights that arose out of discussions following the presentation of the NSP (2019-2024) include:
• The need for the reconfiguration of both learning and teaching spaces;
• Specific efforts to improve English competency in literacy and numeracy in the Pacific;
• Bilaterals on employability and the need to facilitate entrepreneurship for USP’s graduates; and;
• Innovation and research collaboration with a wide range of organisations across a whole range of issues and in particular around the climate change debate
The development Partners expressed further interest to continue collaboration with USP in a wide range of areas including oceans, climate change and marine.
Mr Peter Stewart, project Manager for the 50th anniversary celebrations, presented on the University’s Plans for its 50th Anniversary for the remainder of the year and presentations were also made by Professor Jito Vanualailai, Director Research and Professor Elisabeth Holland.
The last Development Partners Forum was held in November 2017.
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