USP council talks finance and appointments

Operating risks from Fiji’s withheld grant, new appointments and new programs were issues discussed at the 93rd council meeting of The University of the South Pacific.

The USP Council is the governing authority of the university, and usually meets twice a year to discuss the affairs of the university.

Concerns were raised by the council on the financial and operating risks arising out of Fiji’s withheld grant, compounded by the COVID-19 economic impacts.

DVC Education and Vice President, Professor Jito Vanualailai (C) was confirmed at his post after acting in the role for two years. Picture: USP

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, teaching, research and student support.

The Council commended the Vice-Chancellor, President and senior management team for the prudent financial measures undertaken to date despite the uncertain economic outlook and Fiji’s withheld grant.

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The Council noted reports from the Pro-Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor and President on activities undertaken since their report at the last Council meeting.

The Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Pal Ahluwalia said the university was delivering its priorities successfully despite the COVID-19 and financial challenges that it continued to face across its regional campuses.

New programs

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.

It also considered a report from the University Senate and instituted four new programs: Diploma of Fisheries Investigation and Prosecution,
Certificate IV in Pacific Ocean Finance, Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing and Postgraduate Certificate in Financial Fraud Investigation.

USP’s marine science students at the lower campus in Laucala Bay, Suva. Picture: USP

Council noted the update on the work undertaken by management on the implementation of recommendations made in the commission’s report.

New appointments

The University of the South Pacific Council has appointed Professor Jito Vanualailai as the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (education).

Mr Vanualailai has been serving in the role in an acting capacity for the past two years.

Jone Maritino Nemani was appointed as the Executive Director of People and Workforce Strategy and member of the university’s senior management team.

Totivi Bokini-Ratu has been appointed as the Secretary to the Council, Manager Council and Senate Secretariat.

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 next USP Council meeting is scheduled to be held in November 2022 in Apia, Samoa.

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