Caption: Minister Counsellor Ms Nipa Nirannoot, First Secretary Ms Pottanee Homjit, USP’s Vice-President Administration Dr Dilawar Grewal, USP’s Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Rajesh Chandra, Ambassador of Thailand to Fiji, His Excellency Mr Chirachai Punkrasin, Deputy VC (LTSS) Richard Coll, First Secretary Pawat Ruangvichatron and USP’s Vice-President Regional Campuses Dr Giulio Paunga after the visit at the Laucala Campus on 30 September, 2015. Photo: SUPPLIED.
The non-resident Ambassador of Thailand to Fiji, His Excellency Mr Chirachai Punkrasin visited The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Laucala Campus on Wednesday 30 September, 2015.
He was met by the Vice-Chancellor and President of USP, Professor Rajesh Chandra and other members of the Senior Management Team.
The purpose of the visit was to exchange views and ideas on how USP could establish links and develop cooperation with universities and other relevant institutions in Thailand.
Professor Chandra warmly welcomed H.E. Punkrasin and his delegation and expressed his appreciation for the visit.
“This visit is entirely to see how we can enhance the relationship between USP and some universities in Thailand,” H.E. Punkrasin said.
Professor Chandra told the delegation that USP is a regional University, owned by 12 countries which are members of the University.
“We are different in the sense that it is owned and governed by these member countries and apart from our teaching and researching engagement, USP is also a member of the Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific (CROP),” Professor Chandra explained.
“As part of this, we carry two cross-cutting responsibilities not just for USP, but for the member countries of the Forum and these are in the areas of Human Resource Development and ICT,” he said.
Professor Chandra mentioned that USP operates 14 campuses and runs studies via flexible learning of which 55 per cent of students study through, instead of face-to-face teaching.
“For that we are among the leaders in flexible learning. For this to succeed, we have a very complex ICT network in the region that binds our campuses together and supports our students and staff across the system,” he added.
In terms of cooperation with other universities from other countries, Professor Chandra said USP is trying to be more strategic in its relationships.
He said in the Pacific we are working on issues like climate change, getting good value out of our marine resources and seeking better economic modelling policies that can drive sustainable growth.
“USP has seven strategic research themes so anything along those lines will be helpful,” he mentioned.
H.E. Punkrasin said they are keen to promote many of the areas mentioned by the Vice-Chancellor since most of the institutions and universities in Thailand are working in these exact areas.
Professor Chandra emphasised that one of the most important things USP wants to do is raise its standards by transforming from a good University to an excellent one.
“So we are engaged in quite a serious process of lifting our standards be they in new pedagogies, relevance, impact and feed of research into policy making, among others. Essentially we will be keen to maybe work with one or two universities from your end on this,” he added.
There was also talk of possible assistance towards Fiji’s sugar industry, agriculture, marine resources and contracts for academic staff from universities in Thailand.