USP Students welcome appointment of special committee following investigations

The University of the South Pacific Students Council has welcomed the appointment of a special committee of the USP council, made up of eminent Pacific leaders to spearhead the positive way forward for the university. 

This was an outcome of the USP council meeting that was held in Nadi, Fiji.

The special committee was tasked by the council to recruit a Commissioner to work with the senior management of USP in implementing best practises and the reforms that were recommended by the Independent investigator BDO to improve the governance and oversight of USP.

Earlier this year , allegations of serious cases of mismanagement and abuse of process surfaced at the University of the South Pacific involving its former vice chancellor and president.

BCN News spoke with the Regional Campuses Student Representative for the 13 campuses Esther Pavihi who was at the meeting.

“In the council there are two student representatives. I represent the regional campuses , there are 14 campuses all together. I represent 13 campuses and my colleague the second student representative is there to represent the students of the main campus at Laucala in Suva. Before the council meeting we were at our 21st student council leading up to the USP Council meeting and from there, the student body unanimously agreed on our position to take to the USP Council and that position was to ensure that whatever the council decides upon that it is with the best interest of the students, that we are there to promote those interests of the students and that is to restore confidence in the student population , to ensure that we there is no further disruption because of course any allegations of mismanagement by senior management of the University will have ripple effect and a not so positive ripple effect into those student population.”

” There was a lot of unease at the time and lot of uncertainty there was a shroud of secrecy around the whole handling of the BDO report but I think ultimately what the students want was transparency and good governance and we are taught such values as students of the university and that is the expectation of the students that those who govern the university apply those same principles that are the foundation of the values that we aspire by as students.” said Esther Pavihi – USP Regional Campuses student Representative

Auckland based accounting firm BDO was selected to conduct the special investigation in response to allegations of speedy appointments and contract renewals as well as issues with staff salary under the former vice-chancellor.

” It was a productive meeting. The Council appointed a committee of eminent members of council so this is a special committee to work for the council to help with the future direction for the positive move forward for the university so in that committee it is chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa, and the members of the committee included the Prime Minister of the Cook islands and the Attorney General of the government of Fiji, so from there you can tell that the USP Council recognizes the significance of going forward in a positive way and to restore confidence in the student population and the staff and all the stakeholders of the university.” said Pavihi

Meanwhile, BDO concluded that it could not substantiate allegations made by the current Vice Chancellor against his Predecessor.

The Auckland based firm recommended the need for greater oversight, control and management of the Human Resources and payroll functions of the university.

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