Raised profile behind U.S.P. Samoa rebrand: Minister

A recent renaming of the University of the South Pacific (U.S.P.) Samoa Campus is designed to increase the university’s status and expand its offerings, the Education Minister says. 

The Minister of Education, Loau Keneti Sio, said changing the name of the institution from the U.S.P. Alafua Campus to the Samoa Campus was to recognise its significance in Samoa.

"We are also looking to add more programmes other than agriculture so we can be next to Fiji, and as we have seen, the students have faced disruptions due to the many illnesses, maybe this pandemic is smaller than another illness in the future,"  Loau said.

"[If that happens there is an assurance that...] our own students can be taught locally. 

“So we will try to equip the human resources to ensure we have enough teachers attracted to teach [at the U.S.P. Samoa Campus] but especially [to] have many more programmes to be taught over there.

"So [Samoa Campus] is much more recognised [than Alafua Campus]. Once you say Samoa, the world knows there is a [U.S.P.] campus in Samoa. That's the reason why the Council looked into this change and the Cabinet is happy about it."

Last week, the Cabinet approved the rebranding of the University of the South Pacific (U.S.P.) Alafua Campus as the U.S.P. Samoa Campus. 

It comes a year of the university’s main campus in Fiji being marred by scandal and mutual recriminations within the regional university management.

The scandal was widely criticised by the Samoan Government, which, at one point, threatened as one of the 12 member countries who own the U.S.P., to push for the removal of the Pro-Chancellor Winston Thompson who had initiated an inquiry into the university’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Pal Ahluwalia.

Professor Ahluwalia, has since been cleared of allegations. The allegations drew protests not only from member nations but students at U.S.P.’s main Fiji campus. 

Loau said despite the Government of Fiji maintaining their stance in support of Pro-Chancellor Thompson, Samoa is leaving the matter in the hands of the university’s Council.

"That's how things are now," he told the Samoa Observer on Wednesday. 

"Our leader is [aware] of the matter and it seems we will take it to the upper level during the Pacific leaders forum meeting to discuss it further.

"If worse comes to worst, each country might have to manage their own university, but at least we are prepared in that area to make sure our campus is well managed."

Loau is confident that whatever happens, Samoa will be in a favourable position.

"It would be really good for us; to have two campuses. For our students to be educated in Samoa rather than flying all the way to Fiji to continue their studies," he said.

"But because Fiji has the biggest contribution [in the university] and so they are [reaping the most benefits by] having the U.S.P. headquarters over there. 

"But the Fijians are also worried that the headquarters might move because it's a huge step because [the campus] also depends on donor partners like New Zealand and Australia.|



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