“The University of the South Pacific (USP) has been and continues to be a bedrock for regionalism. A resource owned by the region; for the region and a precious institution that needs to be protected in line with the vision of our forebearers.”

This was echoed by USP Vice-Chancellor and President (VC&P), Professor Pal Ahluwalia while delivering his speech at the Ministerial Banquet in Auckland, New Zealand.

“I am acutely aware that we stand on the shoulders of giants; Pacific leaders who had the prescience of their ancient navigating forbearers, to set up an institution of higher learning and to set it on a course over the horizons in pursuit of two things excellence and equity.”

Professor Ahluwalia added that USP graduates had filled critical roles and many had gone on to be leaders in their own right across all sectors in their respective countries.

“This visionary foundation laid down by our Pacific forebearers has made USP the greatest success story of regional cooperation, where the richness of diversity of experiences has formed the foundation of hope and choice; and has established a network for learning to know; learning to do; learning to be; and learning to share.”

Although the main focus in the early years of USP was on Teacher Education to support member governments with their education workforce as they gained their independence, over the years, USP has expanded its offerings in response to shifts in regional priorities and needs.

He however added that as these regional needs have become more divergent, the prospects of adequately meeting them, while remaining true to our ongoing commitment to excellence and equity had increasingly become a difficult challenge on diminishing resources.

“I am immensely proud of USP’s achievements and profoundly passionate about the exciting possibilities before us and over our horizons. However, I am under no illusions that we face sizeable challenges and to realise our full potential as a regional university, we need to be at our best to efficiently and effectively teach, learn and research in the service of our regional family,” the VC&P said.

He further stressed the need to listen to the people as well as stakeholders, valuing relationships and partnerships in new and innovative ways, and caring for regional communities and natural resources that we haven’t collectively cared enough for.

“It is our responsibility now to ensure a cohesive articulation of tertiary qualifications across this network that address specific national needs of members of our family, while also pooling resources so that we can do things together where it makes sense to do so.”

In his concluding remark, Professor Ahluwalia reassured that USP has had to be responsive and resilient and have much more to gain than to lose from genuine innovation; and we are best positioned to claim leadership in areas no other organisation has the regional mandate, capability, need or courage to pursue.

Source: USP Media