Acknowledgements and Greetings
Deputy Vice Chancellor Learning and Teaching & Student Services, Professor Richard Coll;
Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Internationalisation, Professor John Bythell;
Vice-President Administration, Dr Dilawar Grewal
Vice-President Regional Campuses & Properties and Facilities, Dr Masasso Paunga;
The Associate Dean Learning and Teaching - Faculty of Arts, Law and Education, Dr Salanieta Bakalevu;
Associate Dean Postgraduate Affairs - Faculty of Science Technology and Environment, Dr Sushil Kumar;
Head of School of Economics Professor Satya Paul;
Director of the College of Foundation Studies, Mr Aidan Thorne;
Director of the Pacific TAFE, Mr Hasmukh Lal;
Representatives of the Private Sector and NGOs;
Awardees and their families and friends;
Staff of Pacific TAFE and the College of Foundation Studies;
Student representatives; Ladies and Gentlemen.
Welcome and Congratulations
I am very pleased to welcome you all to this combined Awards Ceremony for the students of the College of Foundation Studies and the Pacific TAFE (previously the Centre for Vocational and Continuing Education CVCE). This is the first time we are having a combined event for two sections (CFS and Pacific TAFE) of the University, both of which fill important gaps in the delivery of key services that meet the needs of our people in the Pacific. Also this is the first and historic graduation for Pacific TAFE students as they will be awarded with Senate approved and Council instituted qualifications since its transformation from Regional Centre for Continuing & Community Education (RCCCE) and Centre for Vocational & Continuing Education (CVCE) into Pacific TAFE.
Today is a significant milestone, and a happy one too, for all our students receiving awards, certificates and diplomas. The presence of a wide selection of our stakeholders; parents, families, sponsors, government, and industry groups, clearly signify the interest, the support, and the worthwhile investments that have been made in these students in their life-long learning. Thank you for your presence today as we celebrate the achievements of our students.
Between the two sections of CFS and Pacific TAFE we have a total of 1278 students who have completed either the Foundation Studies Programme or selected Pacific TAFE programmes in 2014 – with 1067 students at CFS and 211 students receiving Pacific TAFE qualifications at certificate and diploma levels.
Not all of the 1278 awardees could be present here today because the nature of the offerings is such that a large majority of them, especially in the case of Foundation Studies, are out there in the region. However, we recognize their achievements and are very glad to know that students, irrespective of their location and level of studies, have taken the opportunity to pick USP as their University of choice, while taking flexible pathways through CFS and Pacific TAFE to reach their goals in higher education.
Let me speak on the awardees for the Foundation Studies Programme. We welcome the large number of students (1067) who completed their programme in 2014. We expect that many of them will progress to degree studies at USP this year or in the very near future and attend other tertiary institutions. About 55% of them are from the Solomon Islands, followed by 21% from Fiji, 10% from Kiribati, 7% from Vanuatu, 3% from Tonga and the remaining from four of our other members (Marshall Islands, Samoa, Tokelau and Tuvalu) and three students from non-members, Kazakhstan, Korea and New Zealand.
In terms of the programmes taken, 59% were doing Foundation Social Science while 41% undertook Foundation Science. We would like to further expand science teaching in our member countries given the importance its importance to sustainable development and the knowledge economy.
I would now like to speak about the Pacific TAFE awardees. Unlike CFS, the numbers are relatively small at 211 for 8 different programmes at Certificate 111 and IV levels as well as a Professional Diploma in Management. The most popular programme is the Certificate in Early Childhood Education – Level 3, with 80 students receiving their Certificates. In terms of nationality, 85% are from Fiji and the rest from Cook Islands, Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu. In terms of gender, 78% of Pacific TAFE awardees are females compared to 47% in CFS.
A word to the awardees
Congratulations on completing your studies. I am sure that a lot of people are very proud of you on your achievements- your family, sponsors, community and country. They have made sacrifices for you and I am sure you will recognise their efforts and celebrate with them today. All of you will be happy that you have come so far and I am sure you will have many wonderful memories of your journey at USP. As mentioned earlier, we are glad that you have made USP your choice and there will be many amongst you today that will continue studying at USP at a higher level.
Today, I want to leave with you this saying by an Indian poet Lakkoju Goutam who wrote:
"There are four pillars on which you can build the platform to reach the zenith of success: Dedication, Devotion, Discipline and Determination." - Lakkoju Goutam
They are wise words indeed and if you can remember it as the 4 D’s, and apply them to your studies, your work and journey in life, I am sure you will achieve your goals and reach your peak of success.
Achievements of CFS and Pacific TAFE
Let me at this stage say a few words on the notable achievements of the CFS and Pacific TAFE. In line with our Strategic Plan 2013-2018 initiatives of rationalizing and strengthening CFS and the then RCCE (now Pacific TAFE) to provide students with flexible pathways for University studies and technical and vocational programmes, we are pleased to note that much progress has been made, reflected in the rising popularity of the programmes of both CFS and Pacific TAFE. As of yesterday (5 February) total applications for CFS and Pacific TAFE are up by 10% compared to the same time last year.
USP’s success rests on the quality and relevance of its programmes. In this regard, I am pleased to report that in 2014 Universities New Zealand, which is a body made up of all NZ University Vice-Chancellors gave a “recognition of external qualification” status for the USP Foundation Studies, thus allowing the CFS qualification to be accepted by all NZ Universities.
CFS has also signed an MOU with University of Western Sydney which will eventually lead to CFS being recognised by Australian Foundations programme network. We welcome both these developments in CFS for they provide confirmation by international accreditors that our CFS programme is of comparable quality to similar programmes in NZ and Australia.
In terms of Pacific TAFE, the recent name change to Pacific TAFE is part of our rebranding of CVCE to strengthen its services and to meet the technical and vocational education needs of the regions.
Pacific TAFE provides 16 technical and vocational qualifications which provide pathways to higher studies programmes offered by Faculties. The advantage of Pacific TAFE programme is that is that you can gain decent employment opportunities, career advancements for students graduating with professional programmes and opportunities for further studies.
Pacific TAFE will grow and expand its delivery foot print in the region significantly. It is earmarked to deliver vocational qualifications in Climate Change Adaption and Renewable Energy through the EU - Pacific Technical and Vocational Education and Training on Sustainable Energy and Climate Change Adaptation (PACTVET). Preliminary work to develop qualifications in Fisheries, Sports Management and small medium business management are underway. With state-of-the-art training kitchen and restaurant (in partnership with APTC), Pacific TAFE will diversify into further vocational tourism and hospitality training to better service the key industries in the Pacific.
Pacific TAFE has introduced the following new programmes this year:
Certificate IV/Diploma (Level 5) in Accounting
Diploma in Office Management (Level 5)
Diploma in IT (Level 5)
Certificate III in Commercial Cookery
Certificate IV in Hospitality Operations
Certificate IV in Professional Training, Assessment & Evaluation
Certificate IV in Early Childhood Education & Care
All these are Senate and Council approved qualifications and have identified pathways to employment and further education.
Given that CFS has received recognition by NZ Universities and is in the process of getting acceptance by the Australian Foundations network, there are a lot of exciting developments in future.
Dignitaries, awardees, ladies and gentlemen, through these developments and partnerships in CFS and Pacific TAFE, I wish to assure all of you that the University is taking a holistic view that the transformation to excellence involves every section and staff of the University. This transformation is already underway and is already paying dividends: the University is attractive more and more students and is clearly the University of first choice in the Pacific Islands region. Further, support from governments and development partners has been increasing steadily as we show our quality and strong engagement with stakeholders. All students coming to USP are assured of recognized and accredited programmes, excellent facilities and student support, strong ability to get jobs, and have the strongest possible platform for lifelong success.
Last but not the least, a final word to the awardees - I congratulate you all again and wish you all the very best in your endeavours as you start a new chapter in your lives. We are very proud of you and are confident that you will make us proud and bring credit to the University.
Vinaka Vakalevu, Dhanyabaad, Thank You.
Professor Rajesh Chandra
Vice-Chancellor and President
6th February 2015