N.U.S. limits Vice-Chancellor's powers after qualifications scandal

The National University of Samoa is amending the job description for the university's vice-chancellor, which amongst other changes would see his or her powers to “hire and fire” staff limited.

The decision to constrain the powers of the University head comes after the Minister of Education Sports and Culture blamed the previous vice-chancellor for recruiting Kenyan national Embiruka Osborne Nyandiva, whose academic qualifications were later discovered to be fake.

The Kenyan was sacked by the University last month as a senior lecturer in the N.U.S. School of Medicine.

The N.U.S. Council Chairman, Aeau Chris Hazelman, responded to questions from the Samoa Observer about the University's new job description for its top administrator. 

“We are currently going through a thorough review of the job description and it should be completed in the next two weeks," he said. 

"And then we will advertise the position for Vice Chancellor later next month.”

Vice-Chancellors were meant only to make recommendations on hiring and firing faculty staff but there are concerns that, in practice, this process was being bypassed with the University head effectively making appointments. 

In June, former N.U.S. Vice Chancellor, Professor Fui Asofou So’o, resigned from the post. 

The Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio, told the Samoa Observer the Vice Chancellor was asked to step down by the N.U.S. Council.

Cabinet suspended Fui in April this year, pending an investigation by the Ombudsman office and a report was submitted for Cabinet’s consideration.

At the time Loau said they had reviewed the Ombudsman’s report 

“I cannot discuss the contents of the report; all I can say is that the Government has zero tolerance of any wrongdoing coming from the Head of the university.

“In going forward, this should set precedence at the N.U.S. and the new V.C. the Government will not tolerate any wrongdoing.

“We will not accept any less from the head of the University, this is where future generations of Samoa are being moulded and educated,” said Loau. 

According to Aeau, there are a lot of things that need to be addressed regarding the job description for the head of the university. 

“For any organisation when you’re going through the terms of reference and what the job actually entails,"  said Aeau.

"We learn from our previous mistakes and then we want to make sure that we address all the issues to assure we don’t encounter these types of problems in the future".

He did not point as to what the issue is, but stated the once they are complete with the amendments it has to be endorsed by the Council members. 

“It has been a slow process, but that is because we have overseas Council members,” he said. 

Asked about the “hire and fire” power given to the V.C. under his job description, the Chairman said that this was under review. 

"There are positions the V.C. and Deputy V.C. can (hire and fire), however they have to submit it before the Council in recommendation form," he said. 

"And this is where there were issues regards to what are a management issue and the issue over the governance of the organisation.  

"This is an issue that we have learned from and we must clarify to assure the same issues do not repeat in the future".

Aeau said the Council’s investigation into Deputy Vice Chancellors Peseta Desmond Lee Hang, and Deputy Vice Chancellor Maugaoali’i Ufagalilo Fa’amanu Mualia is ongoing. 

The Deputy Vice Chancellors were placed on special leave in April this year. 

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