Future Of Samoa’s Oceania University Of Medicine Uncertain

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Future Of Samoa’s Oceania University Of Medicine Uncertain Discussions continue as to what ministry OUM would fall under

By Niccola Hazelman-Siona

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, May 8, 2013) – The future path of Samoa’s medical school, the Oceania University of Medicine (OUM), still remains unknown.

According to Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, "Nothing yet is confirmed, we are still talking as discussions have not yet been finalized."

Tuilaepa confirmed that Chairman of the OUM. Board, Taffy Gould is still involved in the medical school and the discussions being held at present are to do with how much Ms. Gould will continue to be involved.

"She is still involved but the discussions are about the extent of her involvement in OUM."

As to what ministry OUM will fit into, the prime minister again repeated that this is still being decided.

"Whichever format it is going to take, the government will always be involved; whether it is the Ministry of Health, or the National University of Samoa (NUS), it’s still under the government."

"Nothing is concrete until final negotiations are completed and a decision can be expected in about a month’s time, and then we will let you know," he said.

The medical school which opened its doors in 2002 made headlines in March 2011 when there was mass termination of staff including the vice chancellor, Professor Surindar Cheema who had been heralded for much of its success.

Like other notices of staff termination which followed, Professor Cheema was informed of his dismissal by an email from Taffy Gould.

Local members of the OUM Council claimed they had not been informed of these decisions taken by Ms. Gould.

At the time, questions were also raised about the influential role in the mass sackings played by a Dr. Benjamin who it was later found, did not represent the Auckland Medical School as he had claimed in email documents.

The Auckland Medical School subsequently disavowed all knowledge of him.

Dr. Benjamin is now listed on the OUM. website as the Dean for New Zealand and Asia-Pacific.

OUM opened its doors in 2002 offering a graduate-entry MD/MBBS program blending distance-learning and other modes of teaching.

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