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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Dec. 14) – The [10-month-old] University of Fiji is carrying out a major expansion to cater to an increase in the number of students next year.

Run by the Arya Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji, the university yesterday said it had successfully completed its first year.

The privately-funded university, which is situated in Saweni, outside Lautoka, had 127 students when classes ended [for its first academic year] recently.

[PIR editor’s note: Lautoka is located on the northwest coast of Viti Levu island in Fiji.]

Sabha president Kamlesh Arya said: "We are looking at an increase in student numbers next year.

"At the close of the second semester, there were 127 students at the university and our target is to increase it to 1,000 students next year. "But we will be more than satisfied if the student number at the university is more than 500 next year."

Mr. Arya is touring the Western Division to market the university.

He said the response had been good so far.

"We are making a three-story building to cater for the increase in student numbers next year," he said. "It is a FJ$450,000 [US$264,400] project and is solely funded by the Sabha through a loan from a commercial bank. The Sabha has already spent FJ$1.8million [US$1 million] since the opening of the university early this year and most of it was on capital development works."

Mr. Arya said people appreciated the fact the University of Fiji was located in the Western Division.

"We are making inroads in the community and the response from people has been overwhelming so far," he said.

On the possibility of hostels for students, he said, "We have given the responsibility of hostel facilities to the Teachers Credit Union. While we concentrate on the infrastructure at the university, the support of other agencies in other areas helps a lot," he said.

Mr. Arya said the university would soon introduce language and literature studies, whereby students would be able to learn the Fijian and Hindustani languages.

"We will start the School of Humanities next year and it will be headed by Professor Satendra Nandan," he said. "The recruiting of such known academics adds value to the university's focus and it will be good. Right now, the Sabha is solely running the university. We have not received any government assistance so far."

Mr. Arya said the university was on the right track in the provision of education.

[PIR editor’s note: According to PIR files, since December 25, 1904, when the Hindu organization was first established, the Arya Samaj's goal has been progress in education. The Arya Samaj has educated countless students and has made education accessible and a reality for many children, especially those in the rural areas of Fiji. Some of the country's leaders have been recipients of Arya Samaj education (read the editorial).]

December 15, 2005

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