In his welcome address, the Pro-Chancellor and Chair of the Council, Mr Winston Thompson acknowledged the Prime Minister for availing himself to officiate over the opening of the meeting and addressing the Council members.
“The Council meets in member countries on a rotational basis once a year. It has met in Vanuatu before and it was a pleasure that the Council accepted the invitation by the Minister from Vanuatu to host this meeting this year,” said Mr Thompson.
USP Council is the highest decision-making body that meets to discuss the affairs of the University.
He added that the University cannot succeed without the very strong support particularly of the member countries because member countries are responsible not only for being a major source of financing of the University and providing students and supporting them but also for the governance of the University to ensure that it is administered on the best international standards.
The Hon. Charlot Salwai, acknowledged the Council for inviting him to address the Council and for the successful organisation of the meeting. He added that Vanuatu was honoured to be hosting the 88th Council meeting.
“This regional meeting continues to raise the profile of Vanuatu and its status as a true partner in the Pacific region. We are indeed grateful to host the Pacific family here in Port Vila,” he said.
The Hon. Prime Minister reminded the Council of its role as members of various member countries and governments and the importance of the decisions that would be made over the two-days.
He said that the meeting provided the members with a platform and opportunity to discuss a range of important issues that affect the University such as its strategy, learning, governance and accountability.
“The people that compose of our population are our biggest and precious resources and that is why education is so important to us for our development. Education must remain the centre of our social control and economic development,” stated the Hon. Salwai.
He added that the teaching and learning environment needs to be urgently addressed continuously.
This is to ensure that education can be inclusive of higher quality and relevant to our Pacific students.
He stated that relevancy is crucial; in terms of curriculum content, in the learning and teaching methodologies used and of the environment in which learning takes place; all of which need to be flexible to respond to an ever-changing global environment.
Hon. Salwai also acknowledged the University for being a beacon of timeless learning and for more than five decades, has been the source of our regional advancement. He further recognised the uniqueness the University plays in the region over physical, social and economic diversity.
The Hon. Prime Minister emphasised the need for quality and relevant training and challenged the council to consider offering more courses in degree and masters levels and in different disciplines in the regional campuses.
He also asked for reform in the management structure of the University and to take greater consideration in employing staff from member countries as a way of building regional capacity in higher levels.
In conclusion, Prime Minister Salwai acknowledged the former Vice-Chancellor Professor Rajesh Chandra for leading the University over the years.
He added that he was confident that the new Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Pal Ahluwalia would elevate the University to new levels and thanked him for his leadership.
He further acknowledged all of USP’s academics and staff for ensuring that the University continues to offer best services to the students and people.
The Prime Minister encouraged the strengthening of collaborations and partnerships between USP and the Vanuatu Government.
In moving the vote of thanks, Professor Pal Ahluwalia, the Vice-Chancellor and President, thanked the Vanuatu Prime Minister and Council members and reiterated his commitment to moving the University forward.
The Council meeting will conclude on Friday 17 May with a dinner hosted by the Education Minister for Vanuatu, Hon. Jean Pierre Nirua.