N.U.S. records student enrollment increase

The National University of Samoa [N.U.S.] has recorded an increase in student enrollment for the second semester, defying historical trends and fears over the impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

The N.U.S. President and Vice Chancellor, Professor Aiono Dr. Alec Ekeroma, told the Samoa Observer in an interview that he is elated to see an increase in student enrollment for the second semester this year.

“I’m really proud of that. Normally, we see a normal drop in the number of students in second semester but not this time,” he said.

“More students are coming back to school and some of the students dropped out in 2011 because they didn’t have the money. Somehow, they now found the money like nine years later and you wonder why they’re coming back to school when they’ve been working all this time.”

Professor Aiono said the inspiration behind the spike in enrollment numbers appears to be the students’ desire to get an undergraduate degree.

“And their answer is with a degree, they can go further. We can’t get jobs in the government sectors without a degree and so that message is quite clear though some of the students are now coming back.

“They found the money from relatives overseas, support and whatsoever and they are re-enrolling so that's fantastic news. Those who have dropped out for some reasons in the past, they’re now coming back.”

The N.U.S. last month announced a 5 per cent reduction in tuition fees for privately sponsored students, in a bid to assist families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture [M.E.S.C] is also pushing for all their teachers to do the N.U.S. Bachelor of Education program as part of the Government’s efforts to upskill Samoa’s teachers.

Professor Aiono said the boost in the enrolment number this semester is mostly from teachers returning to do their degrees.

“Majority of the funded scholarship students are teachers because now as you know, in order for you to teach, you’ve got to have a bachelor's [degree]. Gone were the days where anyone would just get up and teach.”

A lot has changed at the university, in terms of the delivery of the course, added the Vice Chancellor. 

As an example, he said courses since the pandemic have been moved to the Moodle online platform and the university intends to continue all those courses online to make sure that the assessments are also available online.

“We have provided that support to the students online, emails and messengers are all part of our duty of care to our students to provide that guidance and care.

“The more students we have the better because I think we need the income as well so it’s good to see the numbers being maintained but as you know, most of the courses are now online.”

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