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Good Governance Key At University of the South Pacific: Fiji

Minister for Education, Rosy Akbar, who also sat in the executive committee meeting, said the quantity and nature of the complaints were serious and couldn’t be ignored.
11 Jun 2020 12:07
Good Governance Key At University of the South Pacific: Fiji
L-R: Mahmood Khan, Mahmood Khan, Minister for Education, Rosy Akbar

The Fijian Government has called on all University of the South Pacific Council members to advocate for good governance and transparency.

This is after the suspension of Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Pal Ahluwalia, for alleged material misconduct on Tuesday by an Executive Committee of the council.

Concerns were raised by council member Mahmood Khan, the Fiji Government representative, and Chair of the Risk and Audit Committee.

Minister for Education, Rosy Akbar, who also sat in the executive committee meeting, said the quantity and nature of the complaints were serious and couldn’t be ignored.

She was concerned that the university continued to be distracted from its core function of delivering quality teaching and education needed by our Pacific countries.

“As the host country with the largest number of enrolled students, and by far the largest contributor from the Pacific member countries, Fiji would like to see the matters resolved efficaciously through the internal mechanisms of the university,” she said.

“It is clear, after studying all the material there is a need to address the governance anomalies which have disrupted the transparency at the university.”

She said allegations of Fiji attempting to nationalise USP were untrue and uncalled for.

“We want to ensure that USP students, including those from Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Tonga, Samoa, Nauru and other countries do not fall victim to issues created by bad governance.”

In 2019, there were 31,310 students attending USP.  There are about 2000 staff.

Pro-Chancellor and USP Council Chair Winston Thompson said those calling for him to step down should read the USP Council ordinance in terms of what could be done.

Both the Nauru president, Lionel Aingimea, and Samoan Minister for Education, Loau Keneti Sio, have called on Mr Thompson to step down.

“There is a process for the removal of the Pro-chancellor in the ordinance that appoints the Pro-chancellor and it is quite a lengthy process. And it can’t be done by a few people, ministers even, calling for a person’s removal,” Mr Thompson said.

He said despite the difference in annual monetary contribution from the 12-member states, they were all equal.

Responding to Police presence at the university on Tuesday, Mr Thompson said they were exercising their right to ensure security, law and order were maintained.

Edited by Ivamere Nataro

Feedback: rosi.doviverata@fijisun.com.fj



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