Over 100 graduands celebrated yesterday their achievements when they received their certificates, diplomas and degrees at the University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Emalus Campus.

The above figure was revealed through the official address from the Acting Vice-Chancellor and President, Dr Giulio Masasso Tui’ikolongahau Pāunga, read during the graduation ceremony by the Director of the USP Emalus Campus, Professor Andrew Mackenzie.

The Acting Vice Chancellor and President stated in his address: “Over 100 USP graduands will celebrate today — Emalus Campus graduands;

“-Fifty-four percent are from out Pacific TAFE programmes, whilst eighteen percent are being awarded from out undergraduate programmes.

“-We are extremely pleased to announce that we are awarding 28 graduates from our Postgraduate programmes today, 8 will be awarded their Masters Degree,” the Acting Vice-Chancellor and President stated in his speech read by Professor Mackenzie.

The Acting Vice-Chancellor thanked the students for bringing credits to themselves, their families, their communities and to the University when they graduated.

“Graduating in 2021 is truly extraordinary!

“The journey to the finish line has been anything but, normal.

“The resilience, determination and adaptability you have endured to be here today, is a truly remarkable feat to be celebrated.

“With the numerous shifts in the academic calendar and several lockdowns, we are indeed proud that you stood the test of COVID.

“While today represents the close of a chapter for some, I want to encourage you that life is full of possibilities awaiting you.

“Do not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.

“As most of you begin your careers, my advice to you is to believe that the future can be better than the present.

“Make and Be that change you wish for you, for your family, for your nation and our region,” the Acting Vice-Chancellor encouraged the graduating students.

The Acting Vice Chancellor then outlined the achievements and aspirations of USP.

These include readjusting learning and teach to a ‘new norm’ that is in compliance with COVID protocols.

“With a history of excellence in online teaching developed over 30 years, this meant that our courses faced minimal disruption during the COVID-19 crisis.

“It also provided a great opportunity to explore and discover best practices for staff-student engagement via e-Learning.

“The COVID-19 challenges spurred us to further invest in our ICT Infrastructure and the training of our staff with the necessary competencies to develop multimedia learning content,” Pāunga said.

Mr Pāunga continued: “The University also welcomed the New Student Charter initiated and approved by the Student Council which resonates the spirit of USP to provide a Values Led-Education that empowers Pacific cultures and values through PASIFIKA.

“The USP Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) Programme received approval from the United States WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). The approval is a reflection of the University’s commitment to raising its global standing and sustaining our institutional accreditations so that our graduates are internationally marketable.

“2021 marks an exciting new phase for the University as it extended its Roadshow and Enrolment Drive. It has recorded an increase in student intake by 21%, for resuming students.

“111 Staff and 46 Students with 220 unique publication titles were recognised for their research excellence in 2019, a testament of the resilience and commitment of USP staff and students to continued research for the betterment of the Pacific.

“The University, through Pacific TAFE offered short course programmes to support businesses during COVID to upskill staff; partnerships with AID donors committed to providing the Pacific people a path to self-reliance and resilience. This included a new partnership with Australia Pacific Training Coalition (APTC) for quality Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) delivery and better employment outcomes for Pacific people.

“The most significant change to USP to date is the Reorganisation of the University. The USP Council, the University’s highest governance and decision-making body, approved the reorganisation in response to COVID-19 challenges and in efforts to make USP sustainable, stronger and fit for purpose for at least the next decade.

“I wish to acknowledge the support of our member governments, Council and its Committees, the Senate and its Committees, our development partners, our students and staff and all our USP Community. What we have achieved is a collective effort that I hope we will continue together, on our journey of excellence.

“I especially wish to acknowledge and thank the Chair and members of the Vanuatu Campus Advisory Committee,” the Acting Vice-Chancellor said.

In his concluding remarks, Professor Pāunga stated: “There are profound transformations and challenges occurring in the world today, our Blue Pacific Region, and even in our beautiful Vanuatu, however, your achievement today should provide you confidence and pride that you can be a part of the solution in these challenging times.

“I urge you, not to forget the wisdom and knowledge of our forbearers, whose courage and foresight charted the course that we have followed to arrive safely at the successes we celebrate today.

I am confident that you will make us all proud, we believe for your future successes and will be there to cheer you on!

“Today I would like to close with the wise ode of Pacific scholar, Professor Epeli Hau’ofa:

“We are the sea, we are the ocean, Oceania is in us…It’s time to create things for ourselves, to create established standards of excellence that match those of our ancestors.”

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