Students To Benefit From New Local Universities In Solomons

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Solomons educators abroad asked to return to fill positions

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 29, 2013) – The Solomon Islands National University has now officially replaced the College of Higher Education in the capital, Honiara, while close to the city the University of the South Pacific (USP) is to establish a local campus.

Beverley Tse has more.

The USP’s Solomons Campus Director, John Usuramo, says the new tertiary institutions give students alternatives to studying offshore and he says it will be more cost effective for them.

"They will save on airfares, they will save on accommodation overseas which is quite expensive compared to Solomon Islands. And in Solomon Islands a lot of students might be residing with their families rather than living in accommodation provided by the universities."

John Usuramo says the new academies further benefit students who struggle to complete their degrees overseas, as they won’t have to worry about settling into a new country.

The Deputy Principal of King George the sixth High School, Jonathan Dive says the government can save money on overseas scholarships.

But he says some students will still have to study offshore due to the limited programs, such as the nursing degree, which is on offer at the National University.

"It’s a new university and it will take us (time) to develop. So it is at infant stage for this university. But I think that it’s good to have our own university so more of our students in the senior posts - they’re going to go."

Meanwhile, the Pro-chancellor of the National University, Sir Nathaniel Waena is appealing to Solomon Islands’ academics working in universities overseas to consider returning to work for the new institution.

"Well, if they feel that they should come back and contribute to the nation that made them what they are now, because obviously they were given scholarships by courtesy of the Solomon Islands government, beginning with their first degrees then onto their postgraduate qualifications. So if there is any obligation in their mind to return home, that is what the story entails."

An associate professor at the Centre for Pacific Studies at the University of Hawaii, Dr. Tarcisius Tara Kabutaulaka, who is from Solomon Islands, says the government and the universities will have to offer attractive deals to entice expatriates back.

He says there are alternative ways for them to contribute.

"So rather than saying to people we want you to come back and work permanently in the Solomons, you come up with a program that says, okay, those Solomon Islanders who are teaching in different places, let’s work out when you have sabbaticals and we will offer you a package so that you spend your sabbatical with the Solomon Islands National University."

Dr. Tarcisius Tara Kabutaulaka says many expat academics have long-term commitments to certain institutions, but he says it is possible for them to work for the new universities without physically being there.

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