USP commits to 4th campus - Solomon Star News

USP commits to 4th campus

13 July 2020
From left to right in the photo below, Fr Stephen Kapu (PTC Ph.D. Candidate), Dr. Billy Fito'o (USP Lecturer), Prof. Pal Ahluwalia (USP VCP) and Mr. Francis Tavava (SIG Education attache). MC is Ms. Stephanie Titili (Fiji Isabel Students Association President). (Photo credit: USPSA Laucala Campus)

THE University of the South Pacific (USP) has reiterated its commitment to build the USP 4th campus in Solomon Islands.

This was announced by the USP Vice-Chancellor & President (VCP) Professor Pal Ahluwalia at an event marking the country’s 42nd independence day anniversary celebration at USP Laucala Campus, Suva, Fiji.

Reports reaching the paper said Professor Pal spared some time to join a Solomon Islands Student Association (SISA) organized independence flag-raising ceremony on Friday 10th July 2020, to commemorate our 42nd Independence.  

Professor Pal is believed to be the first university leader to have joined a Solomon Island independence celebration. 

The report further stated Prof. Pal at the occasion confirmed USP 4th campus in the Solomon Islands will be built soon. 

The Solomon Islands USP 4th campus establishment had already been approved by USP Council during one of its two meetings in 2019, in Port Vila. 

Speaking at the event, Professor Pal encourages Solomon Islands' students to be better leaders of tomorrow.

"You are following the footsteps of great leaders of the Solomon Island's who fought for Independence, and you also have an opportunity to change the narratives," he said.

SISA USP was joined by SISA FNU and SISA FSM executives for the commemoration.

Due to current social gathering restrictions, Fiji's SI community was unable to host any celebration, as was usually the case in previous years, the report stated.

Local students in Nadi also celebrated the event on Tuesday at Fulton.

Professor Pal was recently reinstated to the position after he was suspended for the material misconduct allegations and new allegations, The Fiji Sun newspaper reported.

When Professor Ahluwalia took up his position in 2019, he hit the ground running.

Although appointed in November 2018, he formally took up his role in January 2019.

Within six weeks of taking office, concerned staff had gone to Professor Ahluwalia with allegations, the Fiji Sun said.

In April 2019, Professor Ahluwalia sent a paper entitled “Issues, Concerns, and Breaches of Past Management and Financial Decisions” alleging wrongdoing by the former Vice-Chancellor”.

Professor Ahluwalia had made 26 allegations of mismanagement against his predecessor who held office from 2008 to 2018.

BDO Auckland concluded there was a lack of documentary evidence because of the level and or quality of documentation retained by USP. 

“BDO’s view is that a majority of the decisions investigated were made within the boundaries of the Vice Chancellor’s ordinance,” the report said.

However, when critically analysed, the rationale for many of the decisions taken is unclear, the Fiji Sun reported.

“BDO identified the need for greater oversight, control, and management of the HR and payroll functions of the USP.

“Professor Ahluwalia appears to have a huge following in Fiji and the Pacific.

“He is charismatic and has excellent interpersonal communication skills. It is reported that his affirming nature is such that he willingly gives up his cup of tea to support staff.

“Professor Ahluwalia is dynamic and needed in the Pacific.

“Many observers have stated that it is time that all those involved in the university saga should bury their difference and work together for the sustainable development of the Pacific region.

“The saga has also been a victory for students and all those who have used social and mainstream media to highlight the issues and bring about this satisfactory conclusion to this matter.

“It has been said that conflict in a university is not necessarily a bad thing if we can learn from these experiences.

“It is the moral responsibility of the Pacific community, senior administrators, student leaders, staff, and council members to find common ground to proactively develop USP so as to contribute to the sustainable development of the Pacific,” the Fiji Sun report highlighted.