Students will not need to worry about accessibility or connectivity as all this is taken care of by The University of the South Pacific (USP) when it officially opened its Outreach Commons at the Pacific TAFE Centre in Namaka, Nadi, on 19 March.
It is an extension of a project that began last year to benefit its students. The first two sites to open were the Davuilevu and the Walu Bay Commons. This was to address the needs of students living in the Suva-Nasinu-Nausori and Suva-Lami-Navua corridors.
The projected opening is the culmination of USP’s effort to enhance online learning for its students, especially after realising that it would need to alter its teaching and student learning practices post-COVID-19 pandemic.
The USP Outreach Commons will ensure that learning and teaching continue without significant interruption to the students’ progress.
While officially opening the Outreach Commons, Dr Giulio Paunga, Acting Vice-Chancellor and President (VCP), said that in 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated changes in how USP conducted its academic activities to ensure learning and teaching continues without significant interruption to the progress of students.
“Now, students from Nadi and neighbouring areas will also not have to travel far. USP services can now be accessed through USPNet right here,” he said.
Dr Paunga added that despite the economic downturn we all have faced due to the COVID- 19 pandemic, it is most satisfying to note that education remains a priority for most of us.
He said that USP is extremely pleased that the registration numbers have exceeded last year’s numbers by 21.3% (excluding Pacific TAFE) and all 6 Schools have seen an increase in student numbers between 7.5% to 34.3%.
“Our student admissions, as of 15th March, stands at 15,865. We have welcomed 9,607 new students and over 6,258 students who have resumed after 3 years or have moved to a higher programme level,” added Dr Paunga.
“Due to border restrictions, our regional campuses have also seen an increase in student numbers, and we have moved swiftly to accommodate the demand. Our Tuvalu and Solomon Islands campuses have been extended, and there is now improved infrastructure and facilities at the campuses. I am sure the students welcome this additional learning space.”
Lice Waqairadovu and Kini Jamata, two students doing preliminary in English, thanked USP for the Outreach Commons.
Lice and Kini said previously the demand for laptops was so great that they would have to wait or travel all the way to Lautoka to complete their assignments.
USP’s Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jito Vanualailai said USP is looking into having the Outreach Commons open 24 hours.