University making progress towards U.S. accreditation

The University of the South Pacific (U.S.P.) is in the process of getting accreditation from the United States. 

This was confirmed to the Samoa Observer by the University’s Pro Chancellor, Winston Thompson, who said the Vice Chancellor, Professor Rajesh Chandra, will head to San Francisco next month to hopefully get the university accredited to the American system. 

“A team came down to assess the university in April and according to our feedback it was good,” Mr. Thompson said.  

“The university over the years has improved its facilities and its teaching capabilities and has aligned itself through the accreditations of the quality organizations of New Zealand and Australia.” 

Also included in the plans of U.S.P. is their six-year strategic plan, which aims to further develop the university and its resources and the upgrading of all their campuses around the region. 

“The university is in the process of developing its strategic six year plan for 2019-2024, the previous six-year plan has ended this year and during the six-year period we achieved all the targets set out and others we exceeded and some of it we’ve not quite reached, now going forward a bigger element to digital learning because that’s the trend internationally going and make it easier and affordable for students.  

“All our campuses are in the continuous mode of upgrade and Alafua Campus is looking extremely good. I was here in December for the graduation ceremony and six months later it’s looking good, bright, shiny and painted. We are trying to upgrade all our campuses, but we are going as fast as the available resources provided for these changes.”

Mr. Thompson also highlighted some of the challenges experienced by U.S.P. in trying to maintain high quality education. 

“A main challenge faced by the university is the poor resources that are available to us as Pacific Island countries and the need to provide high quality education because it’s an expensive business. 

“We have been fortunate to have development partners who have assisted us over the years, Australia and New Zealand in substantial ways has assisted us and others like Japan, United States, and United Kingdom, European Union, Government of India and the list is quite long. 

“Without these inputs, we probably would have not been able to do this, the quality of jobs that we have in the university. Going forward, the challenges remain and probably increase because of the rapid changes in technology that is available, we have to provide more online access for all our students to make it accessible for those who are not able to afford to go to the physical facilities of the university.” 

Fortunately, he said the provision of cables and internet across the Pacific is becoming more mainstream and more affordable and hopefully more people will make use of it.  

“I don’t think we would be able to achieve all digital and there will be a need for some face to face. There was one time it was all face to face and we’re moving to an online learning and the way it ends up, it will vary for different locations, in some places you got all the facilities for face to face and other places more remote have to be digital,” Mr. Thompson said referring to the debate by Alafua Campus students on Wednesday based on the theme “The University of the South Pacific can be more successful as a paperless university.”

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