USP meets with Melbourne University Professor


The University of the South Pacific (USP) recently met with Melbourne University Professor of Materials and Design Graham Schaffer from the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Regional Campuses and Global Engagements, Dr Giulio Masasso Tu’ikolongahau Paunga and Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Education, Professor Jito Vanualailai, met with Professor Schaffer and touched on areas for possible collaboration.

Dr Paunga explained USP’s set-up in various campuses across 12 member countries in the Pacific region, with the Agriculture Programme based in Samoa and the law programme based in Vanuatu.

“We don’t have a medical school, but because of the demand from our member countries and our USP Council, we now see a need for a medical programme. We are almost complete with constructing the facilities in our Solomon Islands Campus, and we hope to begin our new Public Health Programme soon.” Dr Paunga added.

Professor Jito also shared how COVID-19 impacted operations at USP as it did in universities worldwide and USP’s ability to pivot and continue classes virtually.

“Regarding student numbers, COVID-19 had a big impact; we still feel that now with reducing student numbers. However, our students in the member countries were at an advantage because most of our programmes were shifted online, and most, if not all, our students could complete their courses or begin their studies,” Professor Jito highlighted.

Professor Graham Schaffer touched on talks of collaboration he shared with the Head of School (STEMP – School of Information Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Physics) Professor Maurizio Cirrincione regarding engineering.

Professor Schaffer highlighted another opportunity for USP to engage with retired academics willing to volunteer their time travelling to universities that could benefit from their expertise.

“We have a pool of academics who have recently retired and have joined together to form a volunteer group. The group has been registered with the Australian government, and we are talking to universities and working to identify needs in our region that our academics could help meet,” he added.

Both Deputy-Vice Chancellors were keen to have ongoing discussions around this possible opportunity.


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