CAPTION: Acting High Commissioner, Australia, His Excellency Mr Glen Miles and the Vice-Chancellor and President of USP, Professor Rajesh Chandra raise a toast to mark the extension of the partnership.
A special function to mark the one-year partnership extension for the year 2013 between the University of the South Pacific and Australia was held on 30 January.
The partnership agreement will see Australia provide A$13.55m to USP, which includes core funding, and support towards the implementation of the new Strategic Plan, as well as incentive funding. This follows on from the initial partnership arrangement between the University and Australia for the 2010-2012 period.
The Vice-Chancellor and President of USP, Professor Rajesh Chandra expressed his thanks to the Government of Australia, describing the partnership as an extremely important gesture of support for the future of the Pacific Islands region, and a real boost to its youth and their economic prospects.
He said that USP is committed to providing more services and better quality to the region, and will achieve this through the implementation of its Strategic Plan 2013-2018.
Australia is particularly interested in Strategic Plan Priority Areas 2 (Student Support) and 3 (Research, Graduate Affairs, and Innovation), and will be looking at the progress made in the new Priority Area of ICT
While partnerships require results, Professor Chandra said, USP pledges to offer the best quality education, training, research, and policy advice possible, and to proactively seek opportunities and areas in which it can exercise leadership and offer substantive input to its members.
The Vice-Chancellor gave his assurance that USP was committed in using the investment wisely to create even more value.
The partnership extension with Australia was held in conjunction with a new three-year partnership agreement between the University and New Zealand.
“Australia and New Zealand’s partnership funding will help USP to implement this transformative new Strategic Plan, which outlines plans to greatly enlarge the size of the University, improve its quality, and transform it into an institution of excellence by its 50th anniversary in 2018,” said Professor Chandra.
He elaborated that like New Zealand, Australia has always supported USP and shared in the University’s ambition to assist Pacific Island Countries.
Australia has made substantial capital contributions to the University since 1968. It funded the construction of the AusAID Lecture Theatre and the refurbishment of a neighbouring building that houses the Regional Scholarship Team. More recently, Australia has supported the extension of the Cook Islands Campus.
Australia has also funded a number of projects, relating to climate change, ICT, law and justice, and tertiary education. The Vice-Chancellor said that the University was particularly thankful to Australia for supporting the Pacific Legal Information Institute (PacLII) and the Tertiary Education Conference (TEC) projects.
In his remarks, Acting High Commissioner, Australia, His Excellency Mr Glen Miles, said that Australia is pleased to continue to count itself as a partner of USP at this most exciting time in its history, where USP will seek to embed a culture of quality in all of its teaching, learning and research activities.
He said the partnership ensures that Australia stands together with USP as it embarks on a path of transformation.
The one-year extension, H.E. Mr Miles explained will allow for further analysis of the last three years of the partnership and development of a package of multi-year support to USP from 2014.
He said that Australia and USP are committed towards producing high quality graduates who have the skills and knowledge that make them valuable contributors to the Pacific workforce. This also extends to maintaining and building USP’s role in providing technical assistance, including advice and research to Pacific governments to assist them in meeting development challenges.
According to the Acting Australian High Commissioner, this was the basis for the initial investment of A$18 million by Australia through its partnership with USP over the course of 2010 – 2012.
He added that Australia’s partnership contributed to USP achieving 80 per cent of the objectives of the Strategic Plan as of December 2012. Some of these achievements include:
• Strengthened institutional capacity and financial health;
• Ongoing transformation of the curriculum under the Strategic Total Academic Review (STAR) Project; and
• Upgrading of communications infrastructure to quadruple internet speed.
For the year ahead, H.E. Mr Miles expects that the partnership will continue to bear fruit.
“We look forward to further increased organizational capacity and financial stability to the outcomes of the first year of implementation of the Strategic Plan, and to USP meeting incentive targets that highlight areas of mutual interest.”
The function was held at the Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies in Suva.