NATION

Prof Chandra Pegs Uni Decade Success On Govt’s Policy

The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) success in the last decade has been part­ly the result of the Govern­ment’s policy of equality, merit and a decisive move away from
15 Dec 2018 17:25
Prof Chandra Pegs Uni Decade Success On Govt’s Policy
USP Vice Chancellor and President Professor Rajesh Chandra.

The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) success in the last decade has been part­ly the result of the Govern­ment’s policy of equality, merit and a decisive move away from ethnicity and racism.

This was highlighted by the outgoing Vice Chancel­lor and President Profes­sor Rajesh Chandra during USP’s 50th Anniversary dinner at the Grand Pacific Hotel on Thursday night.

“It has allowed us to re­cruit and promote staff on merit without the previous tendency to mire things,” he said.

“The Government’s prior­ity in education, unprec­edented budgetary support and focus on creating a smart Fiji has benefitted all universities in Fiji in­cluding USP.”

Till date, the University has published almost 8300 publications with almost 2500 ranked publications. It has 27 international accreditations and 15 international recognitions.

Prof. Chandra said they had some significant financial struggles when the University faced deficits in 2006 and 2007.

“Governments were complaining that the University was living beyond its means and had a bloated cost structure,” he said.

“The reputation of USP had taken a battering with fre­quent scandals and bad press. Enrolments had begun de­clining from 2006 that had unnerved the university.

“With the emergence of national universities, senior staff had lost their nerve about the future of the univer­sity. Islands Business ran a story with the caption “Going, going, gone” about the university.”

Their financial issues were resolved when USP ended in 2009 with an operating surplus of $16.7 million. Since then, it has embarked on a very significant transformation of all academic and administrative functions.

IMPORTANT ACHIEVEMENTS BY USP:

  •  73 per cent in full time equivalent students between 2008 and 2018, with enrolment in headcounts moving from 19,000 to just over 32,000 now;
  • About 58 per cent of the entire qualifications issued by the university in its 50 years were given in the last dec­ade;
  • About 63 per cent of all publications and 73% of ranked publications were produced in this period;
  • All international accreditations and international recognitions;
  • All 8 innovation patents filed were in the last four years;
  • The total annual income of the university increased by 48 per cent from 2008 to 2018 from $135 million to over 200 million;
  • Unencumbered cash, a measure of financial sustain­ability and confidence, increased by 220 per cent from 2007 to now, standing at $34 million in 2018;
  • Aid was doubled, and brought in more than $500 mil­lion during this period.

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

Feedback: sheenam.chandra@fijisun.com.fj

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