CAPTION: Vice Chancellor and President of the University, Professor Rajesh Chandra, with His Excellency, Ambassador Andrew Jacobs
The European Union’s Pacific Ambassador to Fiji, His Excellency, Mr Andrew Jacobs paid a courtesy visit to the Vice-Chancellor of the University of the South Pacific, Professor Rajesh Chandra, on Tuesday 30 April, 2013.
The purpose of the courtesy call to the Laucala Campus was to exchange views and explore ways in which the European Union and the University could develop greater cooperation.
Professor Chandra expressed his appreciation of the visit and was very happy to support cooperation in the areas indicated by His Excellency. Furthermore, the Vice-Chancellor assured the Ambassador of the University’s support for the European Union.
His Excellency, the Ambassador, is the Head of the European Union Delegation for the Pacific and is based in Fiji. He is a long serving diplomat and has also served as Head of Unit for the Southern Neighbourhood (North Africa and the Middle East), and headed the European Commission’s Delegations in Bangkok, and Vietnam.
His Excellency, the Ambassador was enthusiastic about potential research and staff and student exchange partnerships between USP and universities in the European Union. The Ambassador enquired about the success of educational incentives supported by the European Union, such as the Erasmus Mundus, to which the Vice-Chancellor replied that the scholarship programmes are very popular and have worked well, for the University.
Remarking on the success of the European Union initiative, the Erasmus Mundus scholarship programmes, the Vice-Chancellor said that he hoped these programmes would lead to increased sustainable links with European universities.
The Ambassador agreed to work with USP to make contact with universities in the European Union, to explore mutual research interests and identify programmes that could be of interest to USP. Professor Chandra thanked the European Union for reaching out in this way, observing that USP students and staff would benefit greatly by collaborating with European universities.
The Ambassador said “We want to change the profile of the European Union, in the Pacific, if we can, from one of a donor and move towards having a strategic partnership with countries in the Pacific”.
His Excellency, the Ambassador also proposed the idea of providing teaching support to the University. “One thing I would like to explore with you is the option of whether or not a teaching style can be developed, as in how the European Union staff could provide support to the University on the teaching side,” he said. He gave examples of how the European Union has provided support to Universities in Thailand, which had European Studies programmes. His Excellency, the Ambassador, also discussed the opportunity to talk to students – “An opportunity to talk to the future elite, who, we hope can then get a clearer idea of what the European Union is there for and how closer relations can be established”.
Professor Chandra agreed, saying that having the European Union staff meet the University staff on a more personal level, and talk to students as guest lecturers, would open up more opportunities for stronger relations between the European Union and the University and will incur more positive development.
In addition to serving Fiji, His Excellency, Ambassador Jacobs will serve as non-resident Ambassador to Cook Islands, Niue, Tuvalu, Republic of Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Samoa and Tonga.