University of the South Pacific

Summary

The University of the South Pacific
TypePublic
Established1968; 53 years ago (1968)
ChancellorLionel Aingimea
Vice-ChancellorPal Ahluwalia
Academic staff
400[1]: 22 
Administrative staff
1,114[1]: 22 
Students29,918 (2017)[1]: 17 
Undergraduates16,721(2017)[1]: 17 
Postgraduates2,933 (2017)[1]: 17 
Location,
Fiji (main campus)
Websitewww.usp.ac.fj

The University of the South Pacific (USP) is a public research university with locations spread throughout a dozen countries in Oceania. Established in 1968, the university is organised as an intergovernmental organisation and is owned by the governments of 12 Pacific island countries: the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.[2][3]

USP is an international centre for teaching and research on Pacific culture and environment, with almost 30,000 students in 2017.[1]: 17 

The university's main campus is in Suva, Fiji, with subsidiary campuses in each member state.

History

Discussion of a regional university for the South Pacific began in the early 1950's, when an investigation by the then-South Pacific Commission recommended the creation of a "central institution" for vocational training in the South Pacific, with a university college as a distant goal.[3][4] In December 1962, the Fijian Legislative Assembly discussed establishing a university in Fiji.[5] In 1964, New Zealand proposed the establishment of a regional teacher's training college in Suva.[4]: 8  In 1965, the governments of Great Britain and New Zealand appointed a "Higher Education Mission to the South Pacific", chaired by Sir Charles Morris, to investigate "the future education requirements of the South Pacific area" and recommend the type of level of institutions needed.[3][4]: 7  In 1966 the Mission reported back, recommending the establishment of "“fully autonomous university comprehending within itself, as well as Faculties of Arts and Science, the Fiji School of Medicine, the School of Agriculture in Fiji, a College for the education and training of secondary teachers, the Pacific Theological College, and, in so far its activities in the field of diploma courses are concerned, the Derrick Technical Institute".[4]: 24  The Mission recommended that it be called the University of the South Pacific.[4]: 24  The former Royal New Zealand Air Force seaplane base at Laucala Bay in Fiji was recommended as a suitable location.[3][6] A subsequent report by Norman Alexander fleshed out the proposal, and in 1967 the Fijian government passed an ordinance establishing the university's interim council.[7] In February 1970 this was replaced with a royal charter.[8][9]: 46 

The university opened on 5 February 1968, with Colin Aikman as its first Vice-Chancellor.[5] Initially teaching was limited to preliminary courses, the equivalent of New Zealand's School Certificate and University Entrance.[9]: 40  Degree teaching began in 1969, with a school of natural resources, a school of education, and a school of social and economic development offering interdisciplinary courses.[9][3] The first graduation ceremony took place on 2 December 1971, with 49 students receiving degrees, diplomas and certificates.[5]

Campus in Port Vila, Vanuatu, in 2013

In the 1970s the university began establishing regional extension centres to deliver continuing education, correspondence and extramural courses.[9]: 41  It also began to advocate for Pacific regionalism and adopt a distinct "Pacific flavour", with Vice-Chancellor James Maraj arguing that the university should become "truely a university of the peoples of the Pacific".[10]: 58–59  In 1976 it established the Institute of Pacific Studies under Professor Ron Crocombe to deepen students' awareness of Pacific identity and the region.[10]: 63 [3] Over the next 20 years, the institute published work by over 2000 Pacific authors.[10]: 63  A foundation course in Pacific studies is still included in every USP undergraduate programme.[11]

In 1977 the government of Western Samoa leased the South Pacific Regional College of Tropical Agriculture in Alafua to the university to establish a school of agriculture.[12]: 56  It is now the university's Alafua campus.[13] In 1989 it opened the Emalus campus in Vanuatu,[10]: 103  which since 1996 has hosted the university's law school and the Pacific Islands Legal Information Institute.[10]: 121 

In 1991 the Republic of the Marshall Islands became the university's 12th member country.[10]: 106  An extension campus was opened there in 1993.[13]

In 2012 the university opened a Confucius Institute at the Laucula campus in partnership with the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications.[14]

In 2017 the university supplemented its governance arrangements with the University of the South Pacific Convention, providing for the recognition of the university by its member-states.[15] The convention came into force on 16 June 2018.[16]

In 2018 the university celebrated its 50th anniversary.[17][18]

Governance

The university is governed by a council, chaired by the pro-chancellor. The council consists of the ministers of education of member states, additional representatives from Fiji, Samoa, Australia and New Zealand, staff and student representatives, and additional members co-opted by the council.[19] The titular head of the council is the chancellor, a position which rotates among the heads of state and heads of government of the university's members. An independent University Grants Committee meets every three years to advise member and donor countries on funding levels.[5]

The following people have held the role of vice-chancellor:[20]

Allegations of corruption and cover-up

In 2019, Vice-Chancellor Pal Ahluwalia made some allegations about a group of individuals who had a record of mismanagement at USP over the years during the leadership of previous VC, Prof. Rajesh Chandra.[21] This led to an audit and investigation by Auckland accounting firm BDO, who compiled a report over 100 pages that was leaked online.[22] In June 2020, a special council meeting led by Pro-Chancellor Winston Thompson led to the suspension of Vice-Chancellor Pal Ahluwalia who was later reinstated after a number of protests by student and staff bodies in the region. The report shows that several individuals such as Dr Angeela Jokhan former Dean of the Faculty of Science were holding key positions with a pay range of over 300,000–400,000 FJD which were above their pay range and questionable for a small-scale unranked university. These were never advertised which include some of the Directors, Deans and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor positions. It also highlights the list of bonuses and payments received by the selected group of individuals which called for further investigation by FICAC and the Fijian government.[23]

On 4 February 2021, the Fijian government summarily deported Vice-Chancellor Ahluwalia for being "a person who is or has been conducting himself in a manner prejudicial to the peace, defence, public safety, public order, public morality, public health, security or good government of the Fiji Islands".[24][25][26][27] In response to Fiji government interference in the regional university, Samoa has proposed moving USP's headquarters to Samoa.[28] Following Ahluwalia's deportation, Dr Giulio Masasso Tu'ikolongahau Paunga was appointed acting Vice-Chancellor by the USP Council, while Ahluwalia remains Vice-Chancellor pending moving his office to Nauru.[29] The Council also established a subcommittee to investigate the deportation.[30]

Following Ahluwalia's deportation, Samoan Prime Minister Sailele Malielegaoi announced that Samoa would be willing to provide a new home for the university.[31] On 25 May the university's council issued a new three-year contract to Ahluwalia and relocate the Vice-Chancellor's office to the Alafua Campus in Apia, Samoa.[32]

In August 2021 the Fijian government announced that it would not fund the university as long as Ahluwalia was vice-chancellor.[33]

Campuses

The Pacific Studies Bure at USP Laucala
Campus in Teaoraereke, Kiribati, in 2011
Campus in Honiara, Solomon Islands, in 2019

Despite its multi-campus nature, the USP is not a university system. It is a single university with several branches across the Pacific Region. USP's Laucala campus in Fiji is the main campus of the University, also serving as its administrative centre.[34]

USP's main campus, called Laucala, lies on Laucala Bay in Fiji's capital of Suva. It also has two other satellite campuses in Fiji: Labasa and Lautoka. The Alafua campus in Samoa hosts the School of Agriculture and Food Technology. The Emalus campus in Vanuatu is the location for the School of Law.[13] The Nuku-alofa campus in Tonga is where the Institute for Education, directed by Seu'ula Johansson-Fua is based.[35]

In addition, USP operates 11 regional centres based in Pacific islands countries. The region served by USP covers 33 million km2 of the Pacific Ocean, an area more than three times the size of Europe. In contrast, the total land mass of territories served corresponds to the area of Denmark. Populations of member countries vary from Tokelau with 1,500 people to Fiji with more than 900,000 people. (The population of the region is about 1.3 million.)

The following are the extension campuses of the university, aside from its campuses in Fiji, Samoa, and Vanuatu.

Centres Town Country Established
USP Cook Islands Rarotonga  Cook Islands 1975
USP Kiribati Teaoraereke  Kiribati 1978
USP Marshall Islands Majuro  Marshall Islands 1993
USP Nauru Yaren  Nauru 1987
USP Niue Alofi  Niue 1972
USP Solomon Islands Honiara  Solomon Islands
USP Tokelau Atafu  Tokelau 1984
USP Tonga Nuku'alofa  Tonga 1971
USP Tuvalu Funafuti  Tuvalu 1970

Faculties and courses

After undergoing a restructuring process in early 2021, USP is organized into eight main faculties that include the following disciplines:

Notable academics and staff

Notable alumni

USP has produced a number of graduates that have played important roles in the South Pacific region. Its alumni include Mark Brown, Prime Minister of the Cook Islands, Elizabeth Iro, WHO Chief Nursing Officer, Ludwig Scotty, former President of Nauru; Bikenibeu Paeniu, former Prime Minister of Tuvalu; ʻAkilisi Pōhiva, former Prime Minister of Tonga; Joe Natuman, former Prime Minister of Vanuatu; archaeologist Tarisi Vunidilo, Solomon Islands women's activist Alice Pollard and Tonga environmental scientist Netatua Pelesikoti.

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f "USP Annual Report 2017" (PDF). University of the South Pacific. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
  2. ^ "USP: About the University". www.usp.ac.fj. Retrieved 2020-02-05.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Kessler, Kim Andreas (2021). "Anthropology at the University of the South Pacific: From past dynamics to present perceptions". The Australian Journal of Anthropology. 32 (1): 33–53. doi:10.1111/taja.12388. ISSN 1757-6547.
  4. ^ a b c d e Charles Morris (1966). Report of the Higher Education Mission to the South Pacific. London: Ministry of Overseas Development – via Internet Archive.
  5. ^ a b c d "Treasures of the Past – The Humble Beginnings of USP". USP. 5 February 2018. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
  6. ^ "The University of the South Pacific (Laucala Campus)". Fijian History. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
  7. ^ "University of the South Pacific (Interim Council) Ordinance 1967". PACLII. 1 August 1967. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
  8. ^ "University of the South Pacific Act [Cap 266]". PACLII. 4 February 1970. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
  9. ^ a b c d Aikman, Colin M. (1988). "Establishment: 1968-74". In Crocombe, R. G.; Meleisea, Malama (eds.). Pacific Universities: Achievements, Problems, Prospects. University of the South Pacific. pp. 35–52.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Leckie, Jacqueline, ed. (2018). A University for the Pacific, 50 Years of USP. Suva: University of the South Pacific.
  11. ^ "Pacific Studies". University of the South Pacific. Retrieved 14 March 2021. UU204 Pacific Worlds is one of four generic University courses included in all USP undergraduate programmes.
  12. ^ Brosnahan, Frank (1988). "Outreach: 1975-83". In Crocombe, R. G.; Meleisea, Malama (eds.). Pacific Universities: Achievements, Problems, Prospects. University of the South Pacific. pp. 55–72.
  13. ^ a b c "Regional Campuses: USP's 50th Anniversary website". 50.usp.ac.fj. Retrieved 2020-02-05.
  14. ^ "Confucius Institute Opens In Regional University" (PDF). USPBeat. 11 (9). 2012. p. 4. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
  15. ^ "Eight Member Countries Sign Historic University Of The South Pacific Convention". Pacific Islands Report. 29 May 2017. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
  16. ^ "Two Countries Ratify USP Convention". Fiji Sun. 19 May 2018. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
  17. ^ "Fiji's President officially launches USP's 50th Anniversary". Scoop. 5 February 2018. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
  18. ^ Talebula Kate (29 October 2018). "USP launches 50th anniversary book". Fiji Times. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
  19. ^ "The Council". University of the South Pacific. Archived from the original on 14 February 2021.
  20. ^ "Vice-Chancellors". USP. Retrieved 14 March 2021.
  21. ^ "USP to enforce report on mismanagement and abuse of office". Retrieved 2020-06-22.
  22. ^ "BDO report about mismanagement at USP". Retrieved 2020-06-22.
  23. ^ "AG on mismanagement at USP". Retrieved 2020-06-22.
  24. ^ "Head of Pacific university to be deported by Fiji". RNZ. 4 February 2021. Retrieved 4 February 2021.
  25. ^ Ben Doherty (4 February 2021). "Whistleblower vice-chancellor deported after midnight raid by Fiji police". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  26. ^ Liam Fox (4 February 2021). "Fiji deports Australian university professor during 'incredibly damaging' day for Pacific unity". ABC News. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  27. ^ "Fiji immigration officials, police deport USP chief Ahluwalia in swoop". Asia-Pacific Report. 4 February 2021. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  28. ^ "The Prof. Ahluwalia saga: Fiji's fall from grace". Samoa Observer. 5 February 2021. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  29. ^ Vijay Narayan (5 February 2021). "Ahluwalia and his wife to serve 14 days quarantine in Australia before going to Nauru". Fiji Village. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  30. ^ "USP appoints acting vc, to probe Ahluwalia deportation". RNZ. 5 February 2021. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  31. ^ Dominic Godfrey (11 February 2021). "Samoa goes public with bid for USP". RNZ. Retrieved 11 February 2021.
  32. ^ Samisoni Pareti (25 May 2021). "University of the South Pacific VC Ahluwalia gets new contract". Islands Business. Retrieved 25 May 2021.
  33. ^ "Fiji govt says it won't fund university while professor is VP". RNZ. 19 August 2021. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  34. ^ "USP: USP - An Introduction". www.usp.ac.fj. Retrieved 2020-08-03.
  35. ^ "Establishment of Network for Educational Research promises to improve education outcomes across Pacific". Saipan News, Headlines, Events, Ads | Saipan Tribune. 2018-07-05. Retrieved 2020-06-15.
  36. ^ The University of the South Pacific (3 December 2020). "USP: The University of the South Pacific". USP. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  37. ^ "The Diploma of Library and Information Services (Level 5)" (PDF). USP.
  38. ^ "Library Technicians". Australian Library and Information Association. Retrieved 5 March 2021.

External links

  • Official website

Sources

  • Charles Morris (1966). Report of the Higher Education Mission to the South Pacific. London: Ministry of Overseas Development – via Internet Archive.
  • Crocombe, R. G.; Meleisea, Malama, eds. (1988). Pacific Universities: Achievements, Problems, Prospects. University of the South Pacific.
  • Leckie, Jacqueline, ed. (2018). A University for the Pacific, 50 Years of USP. Suva: University of the South Pacific.
  • Kessler, K.A. Anthropology at the University of the South Pacific: From past dynamics to present perceptions. Aust J Anthropol. 2021;32:33– 53. https://doi.org/10.1111/ taja.12388