U.S.P. student number increase ‘remarkable’

By Anina Kazaz and Nefertiti Matatia ,

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BEHIND THE UNIVERSITY’S SUCCESS: Mohammed Umar speaks of the journey of U.S.P.

BEHIND THE UNIVERSITY’S SUCCESS: Mohammed Umar speaks of the journey of U.S.P. (Photo: Misiona Simo)

Over the years, the numbers of students at the University of the South Pacific (U.S.P.) have increased and the many developments are one of the reasons the university is successful. 

“We have a very clear job description that is very easy to see through. We do evaluation, how much did we do in the past four months. You can’t fake it, it is all evidence based. It is balanced in transparent organization structure and everybody can understand,” Acting Campus Director for the Alafua Campus, Assoc. Prof. Mohammed Umar told the Samoa Observer.  

Having worked as the Campus Director for seven years, Mr. Umar has lived through some of the achievements and challenges that have made the Campus contribute to the success of the regional institution. 

“This is how I run the University; everything goes to the office and people to understand their position and capacity to bring the most of them in and as well to see when it is out of their capacity. This understanding of the capacity is a very essential quality.”

“The other very important aspect, which many people see differently, is central control. I have a very different system I decentralize two things, authority and responsibility. I expect transparency and accountability,” Mr. Umar said. 

The journey of Mr. Umar taught him ways to work successfully.

“You have to be very sincere with what you do, honesty, hard work and educate yourself. Everything you say and do should be transparent.” 

“The rising number of students from 2010 to 2017 is one of the best things. The change is remarkable. Don’t you think this is a reason to be very happy? Because this is my job, this is what I do, if there are no students, we close.”

“We have about 27 programmes which have been accredited, for tourism courses, management courses. If you have an accountant degree, you walk into work in Australia and New Zealand, you are treated exactly the same as a graduate from New South Wales.”

“You say my degree from here is just the same as what they have over there.” 

Growing up in Fiji as a kid and walking two miles barefoot to school every day, Mr. Umar has a great understanding of what some of the youths have to go through. According to him, students are his driving force.  

“The focus is the students and to enforce that they are our number one. We have our students and have everything to build around them, the high quality criteria’s such as teaching, teachers, and facilities in terms of support for student, economic office, social web.”

“We have to make sure that the students eat well and they are healthy. All of those things are extremely important to keep the students happy, once you are happy, you can study well.”

“To keep them motivated, we have to be involved with them. I always keep my staff almost equal to me although I have a supervision responsibility. I always take a compromising position. Nothing in the world is inflexible, many things we have to attest and that confirmation comes with a lot of experience and understanding, that this is how the reality of the world works, it is not what we assume. With experience we will know,” Mr. Umar said. 

He added the graduation of the Parliamentarians yesterday is a historical event in the region because it is the first of its kind. 

“We usually think that Parliament members are very busy people.  There are 18 graduates, two Cabinet Ministers and the other 16 are Associate Ministers and Members of Parliament; it is a moment to shine. They have accomplished the Certificate of Civil Law and completed that programme,” Mr. Umar said.

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