HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 570:29 June 2011

USP Vice Chancellor meets Education Minister

Minister of Education Teina Bishop said it was a privilege to meet with Vice Chancellor Professor and President Rajesh Chandra of the University of the South Pacific who yesterday afternoon paid a courtesy call to his office on the eve of the commencement of the 72nd Session of the USP Council Meeting being held in the Cook Islands.
Minister Bishop said it was an opportunity to receive an overview of the operations of the USP and to exchange views on education matters but more importantly on how best USP can assist the Cook Islands and other Pacific nations with its educational and academic learning needs.
Professor Chandra acknowledged that USP has had its own difficulties in the past with finance and contributing Pacific Government’s lack of commitment however he was optimistic that matter is resolved and USP’s performance ratio within the regional educational institutions today is next none.
USP has been operating on surpluses for the past 2 years but this has been put back into the institution and through investing in its own staff. The fact that there is an increase in donor support towards USP shows they have confidence in its management and academic teaching capabilities. There has also been more emphasis on strategic planning to enable improvements in capacity as well as ensuring they have quality teaching staff on hand.
Professor Chandra said that in many ways, there is little acknowledgement and recognition for our own academic achievements but USP is an example of a regional approach as to how we can make it work better in the spirit of co-operation and commitment.
The increased donor support certainly showcases what USP is capable of achieving and we are delighted countries like Japan have provided much needed assistance towards improving the campus facilities and its resource capacity with its outreach program across the Pacific.
On the issue of a proposed Pacific Studies Campus for the Cook Islands, Professor Chandra quickly advised that what was being proposed was an International Studies Campus rather a Pacific Studies one. USP is willing to support this initiative and have offered to push a business case to make this happen.
He also reiterated that the focus of the proposed Campus should be business based which would require a lot more data study and research before this can happen. Also, the challenge of course would be to look at viable income streams to enable such a Campus to be self sustaining.
Professor Chandra further added that the Cook Islands natural beauty would definitely attract international interest as a place where people would come to study.
Minister Bishop stated that the USP appears to be on the right track and supported the notion that the USP wants to be the world’s best learning institution in terms of quality services.
He stressed the importance of USP aligning its strategic priorities to those of the Pacific country’s it services. For example in the Cook Islands, the Minister’s priorities would focus on tourism, agriculture, education, business development and culture.
There is also a possibility of establishing a marine / mining institution as well as developing the research capacity of the Cook Islands. For now says Professor Chandra, funding does not seem to be a major issue. What is more important is the credibility of the delivery of the programs.

Herald Issue 554 09 March
- Norm exposes Trio of Doom
- Briefs from PM’s media conference Tuesday
- Tourism Industry ponders $5 million draft strategy
- Norman George resigns from Cook Islands Party
- Letter of Resignation from CIP
- Norman selfish says Prime Minister

Copyright 2006 Cook Islands Herald online . All rights reserved.