USP TO REVIEW ITS BENEFITS TO MEMBER COUNTRIES

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (August 2, 1999 – PACNEWS)---The University of the South Pacific will undergo a major review of its benefits to regional governments, the first since the multi-national institution of higher education was established in the late 1960’s.

The study, to begin this week, will be undertaken by Dr. Dennis Irvine, former Vice Chancellor of the University of Guyana.

At a meeting of regional finance ministers in the capital, Suva, last week, Fiji Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry said he welcomed the proposed review of USP’s role and benefits.

"I believe we have created for ourselves a valuable and remarkable asset in the University of the South Pacific. It is a university that we can all be proud of. It is my desire and hope that in our deliberations we will closely examine the needs of the university and give it our undivided support, in the knowledge that the commitment we make will enable the university to establish itself as one of the most unique institutions of higher learning," Fiji’s Prime Minister said.

Chaudhry emphasized the critical role of education in meeting the needs of Pacific Islands as they grapple with the challenges brought about by rapid globalization.

"Against the backdrop of unprecedented change on the global scale and its negative impact on our small economies, the University of the South Pacific has emerged with a record of successful achievements in a number of areas," Chaudhry said.

The meeting agreed that member governments would increase funding of the university by 1.5 per cent per annum for the years 2000 to 2002.

Also, a statement from the University Grants Committee (UGC) announced that tuition fees will be increased, in order to assist in meeting increasing costs.

UGC Chairman Ratu Epeli Kanaimawi said the university has developed itself into an important regional tertiary institution.

"The university has set up a commercial arm called USP Solutions. It has also improved the quality of its services through the rapid development of USPNet, improved services to extension students and strengthened university centers in member countries."

The focus for the next millennium will be the development of multi-modal teaching and the strengthening of services to member countries, Ratu Epeli said.

Regional finance ministers will meet again in the year 2001 to review the university’s progress.

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