Dear Editor – I was asked by some members of students to comment on the alleged mass suspension of Solomon Islands students at the University of the South Pacific’s Laucala Campus and some from Emalus Campus.
This was carried on the front page of the Solomon Star on Friday, 31 July 2015.
I will leave issues surrounding the details of scholarship policies etc to the National Training Unit, the institution that is mandated to administer scholarships.
They have the authority to issue, manage and terminate scholarships awarded to students.
However, in my capacity as chair of the USPSA Federal-body that looks after student’s social and academic issues in the region, I would like to enlighten the nation on the requirements for the University of the South Pacific’s (USP) degree programs.
Please, note the following:
- In order to be admitted into USP, the minimum requirement is a successful completion of Form 7 (or the USP Foundation).
Students must also score an “outstanding GPA of 2.1 and above. For Solomon Islands its GPA of is 3 (correct me on this).This is an equivalent of an aggregate mark of 250 out of 400, with a minimum of 50 marks for English and three other subjects. Alternatively, students must meet the Mature Student Admission criteria.
- USP has a three-year degree program for both single and double majors. In order to graduate, a student needs to complete 24 units. Hence, it is a requirement of the scholarship providers that students take 8 units per year. This is what is often referred to as the 8/8/8 structure. This means that students take eight courses each year during the course of the three years of their study, or during the tenure of their scholarship: 8 x 100 level; 8 x 200 level; and, 8 x 300. This will ensure that students complete the degree program within the three years, which is usually the tenure of the scholarship.
Understandably, it costs more in scholarship money if a student fails courses and need to repeat them. It would also mean that the student will take more than three years to complete the degree program.
- A four years degree course requires 31 to 32 units. For example Law students- and still you must fall under the said 8/8/8 structure.
- Students must pass their courses with 75% before they can be allowed to enroll for the next level up. This means that a student must pass – with a minimum ‘C’ grade – at least 6 of the 8 units they are enrolled in for the semester. Such a regulation will ensure that students complete the lower level courses and pre-requisites, allowing them to higher level courses. Law students, on the other hand, are required to pass all eight courses before enrolling in higher level courses.
- Students with a GPA of 2 or less will be placed on probation, pending improvement of their grade, or could be suspended for a semester. Those who fail to improve could be considered for suspension.
These rules ensure that students finish their degree within the minimum period of three years.
This will also mean that scholarship donors – SIG, Australia, NZAid, etc. – keep within the budgetary allocations.
I suggest that students attend and are attentive to academic orientations and counselling at home before coming to USP.
This will ensure that they are familiar with the requirements of their scholarships and the appropriate university and government policies.
USP is now embarking on to be a world accredited University owned by 12 member countries. For now USP is accredited within the Australia and the NZ system.
I hope the above will enlighten you all why Scholarship Administrators do have polices that Governs their scholars.