USP Cook Islands Campus

Excellence in uniquely Pacific learning and innovation for the sustainable development of Pacific Islands people

Welcome to The University of the South Pacific Cook Islands Campus

The University of the South Pacific (USP) opened on the 5th of February 1968 at Laucala Bay in Suva. A brief opening ceremony was held at 8:45am and 15 minutes later staff were administering tests for the University’s first intake of 160 students. These first students came from Fiji, American Samoa, Western Samoa, Tonga, British Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Gilbert and Ellice Islands (subsequently Kiribati and Tuvalu), New Hebrides (later Vanuatu), Niue, Tokelau and the United States Trust Teritory.

Today the University has 14 Campuses around the region, namely in Fiji, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

The USP Cook Islands Centre was officially established in 1975 under the directorship of Mr. Neville Pearson and housed at the Public Health building in Tupapa, Rarotonga. At this time the Centre was linked to the main USP Campus at Laucala using the Peacesat satellite service.

The current campus building was opened at Takamoa in 1979 and extended in 2012. The majority of the study done through Cook Islands Campus is via “distance flexible learning”. Flexible learning at USP is nothing new. Its distributed nature requires the University to engage in open and flexible approaches to learning which it has done since its inception.

Flexible learning is a state of being in which learning and teaching is increasingly freed from the limitations of the time, place and pace of study.

The need for flexible approaches to learning and teaching at USP has been growing lately out of the inability of conventional campus based educational practices to meet the growing demands for access to educational opportunity in the region. Increasingly large numbers of students both from those who are on campus and those who are at a distance from it are choosing to study by flexible learning. The regional nature of USP and the very real challenges of having students scattered over vast geographical distances led the University to be a pioneer in the mode since the early 1970’s.

“I was able to transfer or cross credit what I’d already done [at Massey University] to here [USP]. The Masters programme in New Zealand was very much New Zealand focused whereas USP had a much more international focus. I felt like the degree that I earned here [at USP] was far more valuable.”

Hon Mark Brown, Cook Islands Prime Minister

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Our team travelled to Aitutaki to attend the careers expo for primary and college aged students, held on the 17th of November 2022. It was a great opportunity to be able to connect with past, current and [potential] future students on the island of Aitutaki. Principal of Araura College Gaylyn Lockington opened the event by saying “there is no reason you need to leave [home] there are plenty of opportunities for you right here”, a sentiment we echoed throughout the day ensuring that students were aware that they did not need to leave home and their families in order to attend University.

Meitaki atupaka Araura for the warm hospitality!

USP Cook Islands held its University Open Day on the 20th of October 2022. The Open Day is an opportunity for potential students to explore University life as well as what USP has to offer. High school students and other members of the public were in attendance. The event wrapped up with prize giving and a sausage sizzle.

A big Meitaki Maata to all the helping hands involved including USPSA Cook Islands, USPSA Federal, Avarua Bakery, VSA, CEIT and of course the USP A-Team who put everything together.

Registrations are open for the 5th Pacific Islands Universities Research Network Conference in Rarotonga, the Cook Islands, 4th-6th July. The theme for the 2023 conference is Exploring this Sea of Islands, inspired by one of the Pacific’s most revered academics, Epeli Hau’ofa. Hosted by Te Puna Vai Marama the Cook Islands Centre for Research and the University of the South Pacific, Cook Islands Campus, this conference promises to bring together researchers from across the Pacific for 3 days of interdisciplinary learning, discussion and networking in the beautiful island paradise of Rarotonga.

You can find out more about PIURN, submit panel suggestions and abstracts, and register to attend here Exploring this sea of islands: 5th Pacific Islands Universities Network Conference

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