The University of the South Pacific (USP) organised a Virtual Thanksgiving today to thank its students and staff for their contribution towards the recent recognition of USP by the World Universities with Real Impact (WURI) 2021 global ranking. Guests from around the region tuned in for the virtual event.
USP has been ranked 11th against some of the top Universities of the world in the area of Crisis Management. WURI is the latest University ranking system established in 2020.
The virtual event connected staff and students from all over its Campuses in the region. Speaking during the event, the President of Nauru and Chancellor of USP, His Excellency Lionel Aingimea said given the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges faced by higher education institutions across the world, the University has instead continued with online education with precision and to be ranked by an international ranking system like WURI, was an acknowledgement of how the University has stood against the challenges.
“For the University to be acknowledged by WURI in crisis management and having to stand shoulder to shoulder with many prominent well-resourced universities from across the world, is a great success. It is also a vindication of the management’s efforts to rescue the University during its difficult financial times.”
Mr Aingimea reiterated that it was a new beginning for USP, a period for renewal for the future and called on students to embrace this new direction that aims to build USP sufficiently into an institution recognised by higher education community globally.
According to Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education), Professor Jito Vanualailai, whose team was behind the development of USP’s successful submission to WURI, the University was assessed on how it dealt with external shocks such as the COVID-19 pandemic and technological breakthroughs in addition to various activities of the University.
“The COVID-19 had impacted learning and teaching, however, the University remained committed, and despite the circumstances, it ensured there was continuity of learning and teaching. We stood to the challenge, we faced the challenges accordingly, and we managed to go through the crisis as a team,” he added.
Professor Vanualailai also acknowledged Fiji’s Minister for Education, Heritage and Arts, Honourable Minister Rosy Akbar, who was part of the event and thanked the Fijian government for its reassurance to continue to support the University during these challenging times.
Honorable Minister Akbar said for academic institutions in Small Island Developing States, the challenges will always remain greater but with commitment and perseverance, Academic institutions could still achieve great things.
“This (USP’s WURI ranking) is an example of one such achievement that we are celebrating today, and I thank WURI for recognising the importance of crisis management in higher education, I once again congratulate the USP, the Council, students and external partners, and all those friends of our regional University. USP has given us reason to celebrate.”
USP’s Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council, Winston Thompson, congratulated the University saying that USP was ranked highly by WURI ranking were a clear recognition of the university’s role and the work it has done in not only teaching and learning but also maintaining continuity.
“There has been no greater crisis that affects the world than the crisis that we are going through at the moment. The fact that USP has maintained its core function, I think, is a testament to the groundwork that has been led by former leaders of the University and in particular those who are in charge at this time,” he said.
“The recognition is also fittingly being given to the University’s record for its infrastructure, distance and flexible learning, as has been pointed out by the Minister of Education in Fiji.
“USP’s WURI ranking is something that we can jointly be proud of.”
USP’s Acting Vice-Chancellor and President, Dr Giulio Masasso Tu’ikolongahau Pāunga said the University’s achievement was an indication of how the University was able to work together despite challenging circumstances and thanked the University management team, staff and students who have contributed to USP’s achievements over the years.
WURI was created to evaluate the innovative programmes of universities and to measure the performance of universities in creating real value to society and providing opportunities for the future in Industrial applications, Value-creating startups and entrepreneurship, Social responsibility, ethics, and integrity, Student mobility and openness and Crisis management.