Man driving tertiary education in Samoa

By Ivamere Nataro ,

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Professor Fui Asofou So’o is adamant he can take the National University of Samoa (N.U.S.) to greater heights. It follows his reappointment as the Vice Chancellor and President of N.U.S. 

His fourth term at the helm of the university comes after the official endorsement by Cabinet this week. At a press conference yesterday, Prof. Fui said for the next three years, the focus will be exactly on what he had honed within his time while at the helm.  

“Basically I’m focused on consolidating the structure and perfecting the way N.U.S. works. The processes and the quality that goes with the structure,” he said. 

On a much closer scope, he said Technical and Vocational Education and Training (T.V.E.T.) courses are a must for the university to push. 

“Most of us think T.V.E.T. and we think practicality and hands on, but not knowing that there is more to these courses and for N.U.S. to look into.” 

Prof. Fui noted the significant changes that had been implemented at the national university since the start of his mentorship in 2009.  

This includes changing the previous school system that existed with the university to a faculty system, which he said was part of a move to create a more inclusive education plan for N.U.S. by merging it with the then Samoa Polytechnic school system. 

“Now we have a full-fledged faculty system that is able to accommodate any programme including School of Medicine and School of Nursing. 

“For me, this is an opportunity to consolidate those structures in place, processes and the personnel occupying the positions being created in the new structure,” Prof. Fui said. 

He said at least 95 percent of the senior management people in the new structure are in their first contact terms. 

VICE CHANCELLOR: Professor Fui Asofou So'o of the National University of Samoa (N.U.S.). Photo: Misiona Simo.
VICE CHANCELLOR: Professor Fui Asofou So'o of the National University of Samoa (N.U.S.). Photo: Misiona Simo.

“So they are relatively new, fresh management team. They still need a little bit of guidance and counsel. So I am here to help them take the university to the next level,” Prof. Fui said. 

Another milestone success for Prof. Fui in the past nine years had been the implementation of a unified salary scale for the university staff. 

“We were also able to upgrade the expertise qualifications of our staff. If we think back 34 to 35 years ago when we first started the university, I think there were only one or two staff members with Masters Degrees and that was the highest qualifications at the time. Now we have more people with that kind of qualifications and better. In fact, we now offer some of those programmes here at the N.U.S. 

“Another success would be our associations with other institutions of the same level, both locally and outside Samoa. That’s partnerships with other institutions; right now we have a lot of very active partnerships with other institutions overseas. 

“The growth of the university in terms of the programmes that are currently offered is also a success for the university. For me, the growth of programmes is an indication of the responsiveness of the university to the needs of the community.” 

He said there were some who criticized the changes that had the university was undergoing, but they all died down after the university was making progress. 

“I know there was a lot of disagreement at the time about where the university was headed, but there was a clear picture in my head about how and where exactly I wanted it to go,” Prof. Fui said. 

He highlighted that the university works closely with the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture to try and develop the education sector in the various areas they are involved in. 

Prof. Fui says he will take on the role one final time before he retires after 2021. 

“I think it may well be time for some new blood in this seat. I think it will be time for me to move on from where I am and take up a position on another level, meanwhile some new blood is very much welcomed here at the leadership role at N.U.S.” 

© Samoa Observer 2016

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