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Joint statement from the USP Academic and USP Staff Union on the cessation of Fiji's funding towards USP
06:19 am GMT+12, 25/09/2020, Fiji

RE:  CONDITIONAL PAYMENT OF $27.6M USP GRANT FOR2020-2021 BY FIJI’S ATTORNEY GENERAL AND MINISTER FOR ECONOMY, CIVIL SERVICE AND COMMUNICATIONS

The Staff  of  the  USP stand  with  the USP  Students in  solidarity  in  this  response  to  the drastic decision by the Fiji Government to cease the grant contribution to the USP with immediate effect.By this Fiji is reneging on its commitment to its people and the region.

The  letter  dated  23  September  2020  from  the Fiji AG  and  Minister  for  Economy  to the Pro-Chancellor and Vice Chancellor & President on the cessation of the USP funding has sent shock waves across this regional institution to which eighty percent of graduates from Fiji are indebted to.

The action is being justified by the AG and Minister for Economy as due to lack of adherence to the principle of good governance in the daily operations of the University and the decision of the Council to `ignore’the allegations made by the Pro Chancellor and Chair of ARC.It is apparent to staff that the AG and Minister for Economy is most supportive of Pro-Chancellor Thompson and ARC Chair Mahmood Khan’s allegations against VC/P Pal.

Staff members  firmly believe that the  University  Council, the USP’s governing  body  should  be where Member States take  up  their  issues for discussion  and resolution.It is poor governance when a single Member State of the USP Council attempts to dictate its course of action.The staff of the USP strongly object to the AG and Minister for Economy’s decision to cease Fiji’s grant  contribution to the  USP. This places the University  in  a  critical  financial  position, jeopardizing the education of Fiji students (80%) and Fiji staff (80%).

This decision is viewed as an assault on the Fiji students and staff who, to date, in this COVID and pre-COVID  environment of 2019 have been  able to continue  their  education and  work with minimum impact under the current Vice-Chancellor’s prudent leadership and Council oversight.

The  Government is seen to be using  Fiji students and  staff to  dictate to and to  hold the USP Council to ransom whilst holding a `gun’ to the head of the Vice-Chancellor and President,The action is tantamount to`cutting off USP students and staff legs at their knees’ and therefore their  lifelines to coping with  living  in  the  current  and  post COVID environment.Not  only  will hundreds of families suffer, the quality of support and education for USP students in Fiji and the region will be seriously affected due to the domino effect of this decision.The question being asked is, why would the Government use such strong arm tactics and punitive action to jeopardise the education of its youth who are their voters and the next generation of leaders when the USP’s supreme governing body of12 regional states and development partners have spoken.

Rather than being treated as valuable citizenry, it appears that all are mere pawnsin a political game.The Vice-Chancellor and President is doing what every government, university, corporation and family business in the world needs to do to survive –reflect, redesign and reorganise.

To date, NO STAFF member has lost a job; NO STUDENT REFUSED ADMISSION except for mandated academic reasons and INCREASES IN STUDENT enrolments witnessed.

The  gravity  of  this  decision and  its  implications  require serious reflection  on  the  basis  of the decision  and  in-depth reconsideration  by  the  Fiji  Government  for  the  greater  good of the students of Fiji and our Pacific `vuvale’.

SOURCE: USP/PACNEWS


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