(L-R) Mr Jonathan Curr, New Zealand’s High Commissioner and Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President of USP following the visit and discussions at the Laucala Campus.Photo;USP
His Excellency Mr Jonathan Curr, New Zealand’s High Commissioner to Fiji paid a courtesy visit to The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Laucala Campus on 12 March 2018.Warmly welcoming Mr Curr, Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President of USP congratulated him on his new appointment as High Commissioner and wished him well.
Professor Chandra stated that USP had excellent relations with His Excellency’s predecessor Mr Mark Ramsden during his term, who was a “proactive and effective ambassador for USP”.
He assured that USP has excellent relations with officials from the High Commission in Suva and in Wellington.
“I also wish to congratulate the New Zealand Government and look forward to working closely with you and your team and the officials in Wellington,” he said.
Professor Chandra said Mr Curr’s appointment could not have come at a better time as the relationship between USP and New Zealand has strengthened even further.
“New Zealand has been our partner from the beginning. It is one of the countries that commissioned the initial stages of the study into the formation of this university,” he said.
He also noted that the New Zealand Government supported the first years of the operations by leaving valuable buildings and other assets at Laucala Bay, which was a site for the Royal New Zealand Air Force. These he mentioned, have been utilised for many years and some of these are still being used to date.
“New Zealand has been steadfast in supporting USP, in helping govern it through the membership of the Council and the University Grants Committee and our relationship has been extremely constructive and progressive,” Professor Chandra reaffirmed.
He added that New Zealand has been instrumental in the development of our telecommunications through funding the initial USPNet Satellite and are currently supporting the upgrade of USPNet scheduled for completion this year.
“New Zealand has provided support towards the core budget of the University, which has enabled USP to position itself well to serve the Pacific region with ICT, research, and regionalism becoming the transformative strategy for the University,” he said.
Mr Curr was also informed that the University has officially engaged with New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) through the bilateral High Level Consultations (HLC) in Wellington every year and later in the year through the tripartite HLC including Australia.
There is an upcoming High Level Consultation in Wellington scheduled for 16 April, 2018 and the University looks forward to more fruitful discussions at this bilateral meeting.
“The HLC has in the past provided a platform for strategic level discussion and resulted in positive and forward looking outcomes,” he added.
“We have come a long way since the early days starting with 200 students and now have 30,000 students, with over 4000 graduates every year and the reputation of USP has grown very significantly,” Professor Chandra said.
Mr Curr acknowledged Professor Chandra for the kind words saying it was a pleasure to be present at Laucala Campus.
“I am very mindful that I have arrived at a very significant time in the University’s history, its 50th Anniversary. I am looking forward to learning more about USP and I am really heartened by the warmth that is very evident in the current relationship between the University and New Zealand,” he said.
“This is indeed very encouraging and the kind of partnership that New Zealand tries to foster in all our activities here and I am very pleased that it has been a constructive and progressive relationship,” he said.
“I am sure that this relationship will continue and that USP will remain a very important part of New Zealand’s programme in the Pacific,” he noted.
Professor Chandra highlighted that USP considers New Zealand Government’s NZD 5.6m towards USPNet upgrade as an excellent contribution to mark USP’s 50th Anniversary celebration.
A major event has been planned by the University as part of its year’s 50th anniversary celebrations in honour of the contribution by the Fiji and New Zealand Governments via the joint unveiling of a commemorative Monument at the Laucala Campus on 23 March 2018 by Honourable Voreqe Bainimarama, Fiji’s Prime Minister and Honorable Ron Mark, the Minister of Defence, New Zealand.