Concerns have been raised by the University of the South Pacific Council on the financial and operating risks arising out of Fiji’s withheld grant compounded by the COVID-19 economic impacts.
Fiji has not paid more than $62 million in grants to the USP.
It was discussed during the USP Council meeting that apart from the continued dialogue attempts with the Government of Fiji, the Council was looking at other measures to deliver its core business without compromising the quality of learning and teaching, research and student support.
The Council has commended the Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Pal Ahluwalia and the Senior Management Team for the prudent financial measures undertaken to date despite the uncertain economic outlook and Fiji’s withheld grant.
Professor Ahluwalia says the USP was delivering its priorities successfully despite the COVID-19 and financial challenges that the University continued to face across its regional campuses.
The Council noted the report on the University’s responses to ensure the continuity of learning and teaching in a COVID-19 environment including an update on academic quality assurance and accreditation of the University.
The USP Council is the governing authority of the University, and usually meets twice a year to discuss the affairs of the University.
Members of the Council comprise the Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council, the Vice-Chancellor and President, Deputy Pro-Chancellor and Deputy Chair of Council, representatives of the 12 Member-Country Governments, Australia and New Zealand Government representatives, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat Secretary General, USP Senate Representatives, Staff and Student representatives and Co-opted members.
The two-day meeting was chaired by the Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council, Dr. Hilda Heine and it was her first Council meeting as Chair.
She expressed her gratitude to the Council in having the confidence in appointing her to the Office.
The Council also considered a report from the University Senate and instituted 4 new programmes. These are Diploma of Fisheries Investigation and Prosecution, Certificate IV in Pacific Ocean Finance, Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing and Postgraduate Certificate in Financial Fraud Investigation.
The Council approved the appointment of eminent persons to the Council and its Committees as recommended by the Governance and Nominations Committee.
Professor Jito Vanualailai was appointed as the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Education) and member of the University’s Senior Management Team after having served in the role in an acting capacity for the past 2 years, Jone Maritino Nemani was appointed as the Executive Director People and Workforce Strategy and member of the University’s Senior Management Team after joining USP and assuming the role in 2020 and Totivi D Bokini-Ratu was appointed as the Secretary to Council and Manager Council and Senate Secretariat after having served in the role in an acting capacity for the past ten and a half months.
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