Friday, 1 February 2008 7:22 AM

Foreign-Owned "University of Honiara" Under Government Scrutiny

An online institution bearing the name "University of Honiara" is pending approval from the Solomon Islands Government.

Following a tip from a concerned Honiara citizen who 'stumbled' on a link to the institution, the Solomon Times made an interesting find.

The Institution was founded in February, 2006, by the Caricom e-learning Group who envisioned the need for a more liberalized, interactive and technologically innovative instructional education system, particularly for the people of the South Pacific islands.

The website said that "Honiara in the Solomon Islands" was selected as the proposed Administrative Centre for the Institution "after several stages of intense consultations".

It claimed that since its founding, a number of students have since graduated in various disciplines, and has since evolved into an institution of credible academic standards and stature, and a pillar of pride for the people of the Solomon Islands.

In an interview with Solomon Times, Senior Officer of Foreign Investment Division, Billy Pelise, confirmed that their office has received an application from the University of Honiara.

He, however, made it clear that the files are still pending approval from the Foreign Investment Board.

Mr. Pelise said the application is from a group claiming to be from New Zealand.

"The person behind this application is Dennis Adomis, a man claiming to have a very big establishment in New Zealand," Mr. Pelise revealed to Solomon Times.

He added that Mr. Adomis also claims to be the Vice Chancellor of the University of Honiara.

Mr. Pelise told Solomon Times that the institution was initially established and functioned as an international Institution of Travel and Tourism (ITT).

"Formally, the whole set up was as an ITT but the status changed to university on October 2007," said Mr. Pelise.

The website quotes owners of the ITT, the Caricom e-learning Group, as saying that while the online aspects of the institution are already in force, discussions are underway to establish the ITT as the University of Honiara in the Pacific Islands nation of Solomon Islands during 2008.

It continues to quote the ITT as saying that discussions are currently underway with the country's Ministry of Education.

But according to the Senior Foreign Investment Officer, Mr. Pelise, the Ministry of Education in Honiara is not even aware of the existence of the University of Honiara.

"To establish an educational institution, the Ministry of Education is the right place to give authority to use the name Honiara," he told Solomon Times.

Mr. Pelise said that the Foreign Investment Board is still looking through the files "not because we regard them as a scam but we want to be sure they have a proper structure".

He told Solomon Times that a similar incident took place some years back with a group claiming to be a medical institution by the name "Kings University" in Solomon Islands.

"It was messy because overseas students actually paid their school fees and came to the country only to find with great disappointment that it was all a scam," he said.

Mr. Pelise said it is for that very reason that "we don't want to repeat the same mistake again".

"We have to be sure and find out about the establishment of this group before we give approval," he said.

Solomon Times was told that the Foreign Investment Board will be submitting a letter to the New Zealand High Commission's Office in Honiara as part of investigation into the group's background.

"We don't even know who gave this group the authority to use the name, Honiara, for their institution," he said.

The application, if approved, will make it the first online institution linked to Solomon Islands, let alone a university.

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