The USP Tonga Campus held its 2013 graduation at the Queen Salote Memorial Hall, in Nuku’alofa on Friday, 26 July 2013.
More than 160 students graduated with certificates, diplomas and degrees, with 68% of all graduates being female, indicating a growing trend in gender equality in higher education. 23% graduated at undergraduate level and 42% at postgraduate level, with 44 MBA graduates from the first cohort of MBA students being taught at the Tonga Campus.
The graduation also saw the formal installation of the 20th Chancellor, His Majesty the King of Tonga, Taufa’ahau Tupou VI.
Professor Chandra thanked His Majesty for accepting the titular role, as the University’s Chancellor, and warmly welcomed him to the USP family.
USP has a very special relationship with the kingdom of Tonga, as it was a founding member of the University 45 years ago. The current Chancellor’s late father, His Majesty King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV also served as USP’s first Chancellor and titular head.
“We have been privileged to have some very notable Tongans serving the University in various capacities and they include the late Hon. Dr. Langi Kavaliku, the late Professor ‘Epeli Hau’ofa, Professor Konai Helu Thaman, and Dr ‘Ana Taufe’ulungaaki, to name a few,” Professor Chandra added.
He thanked the Government of Tonga for its continued support towards the funding of the University, which has helped achieve the dreams of many in the region and empowered them. In 2012, Tonga spent over FJD$14,000 in government contributions per graduate. He also extended the University’s appreciation to the government for the new land on Tongatapu given to USP, which he indicated will be used for the expansion of the campus to provide more science and graduate teaching at the Tonga Campus.
“We want to ensure that as many of Tonga’s citizens as possible have the benefits of accessing quality tertiary education from where-ever they reside. Therefore we have been taking education to them through distance and flexible delivery utilizing our USPNet,” Professor Chandra said.
He told the graduates that the graduation is not the end of the journey but the beginning of a new journey of work and community development.
“I want to challenge you all to strive for excellence in whatever you do and to be good ambassadors of USP. Do your best to grow as worthwhile citizens and contribute to the development and uplifting of your communities, your country and of course your families,” Professor Chandra advised the graduating students, and wished them all the best in their endeavours.
Professor Chandra also touched on the University’s new Strategic Plan 2013-2018, which he said is a “plan with a difference, in that it is bold and imaginative with aspirations to transform USP from good to excellent, culminating in USP’s 50th Anniversary in 2018”.
He indicated the added emphasis the new plan has on its regional campuses, as well as aligning research to the needs of USP member countries to achieve greater impact and harnessing Information Communication Technology (ICT’s) to contribute to the development of a knowledge economy.
He assured the government and people of Tonga that USP has strong foundations and is deeply committed to successfully implementing the Strategic Plan and to furthering USP’s contribution to the development of its member countries.
Members of the Tongan Royal family and Tongan nobility, government and Parliament officials, the Royal Chaplain and members of the clergy, the Diplomatic Corp, Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council, Mr Ikbal Jannif, and other members of the Council, as well as staff , students of the USP Tonga Campus and their families were present at the graduation ceremony.