Leaked USP report a gross injustice to accused staff: Pro Chancellor

The University of the South Pacific (USP) Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the USP Council, Winston Thompson, said the releasing of USP’s internal report on alleged mismanagement practices to the public arena without formal process is a gross injustice to the staff and officers involved.

“USP had mechanisms in place to handle these irregularities. The report which has now come out in the media was not investigated internally when it was send out. Basically, the university process has not been followed,” he said.

He argued that the leaked report had made the accused look bad.

“The report contains certain confidential information that made those involved look bad. That’s terribly unfair because they never had the opportunity to voice their side of story before the report became public knowledge.

“It’s a human point of view that you have to give fair treatment to people. You’ve got to hear their side of their story before you prosecute them. That was not done with with the leaked report,” he stressed.

It is understood that the Fiji Independent Committee Against Corruption (FICAC) is investigating the allegations.

According to the Pro-Chancellor, the USP Executive Committee has decided that the named individuals should be allowed to respond to the allegations.

“Quite clearly, a gross injustice has been done these individuals who have worked assiduously and do not deserve to be treated in this way.

“I apologize to them in the name of the university”, he said in a statement.

USP is jointly owned by the governments of 12 Pacific island countries which means that it receives funds from these countries to advance in many ways.

The government of Vanuatu is committed to supporting USP. Every year, the government has to table a budget for USP in parliament.

Asked to comment on how the alleged accusations could reflect on Vanuatu’s ongoing financial commitment to USP, Pro-Chancellor Thompson replied: “These are separate issues.

“USP has been producing graduates for Vanuatu and other member countries.

“The courses that are offered are of high standards. The students from Vanuatu have graduated with good qualifications so the money provided by Vanuatu is in fact being delivered.”

The Minister of Education and Training (MOET), Jean Pierre Nirua, said the government of Vanuatu will make its stand on the USP mismanagement allegations once proven true.

The 11-page report detailed a lot of serious alleged irregularities concerning staff appointments and payment deferments at the USP Headquarter in Fiji dating back 10 years ago.

According to the Pro-Chancellor Thompson, the report was done under the authority of the USP Vice-Chancellor, Pal Ahluwalia. Vice Chancellor Ahluwalia said he would not comment on the matter while it is being investigated.

Pro-Chancellor Thompson and Vice Chancellor Ahluwalia are in Port Vila for the USP Council Meeting today (Thursday).

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