(o) Fiji's Three Universities: Everything's Political in a Way

USP, the University of the South Pacific,  is the oldest (1968) and largest university in Fiji but it is not a Fiji university. It is owned by the governments of its 12 member countries: Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Samoa. Australia, NZ and the UK have been major donors since inception and are represented on the University Council.  The main, Laucala, campus is in Suva, and there is a campus in all member countries. A look at a map of the Pacific Ocean gives some idea of the immense distances covered.

One recent development was that NZ apparently slapped a travel ban on Iqbal Khan, one of the Fiji government's nominated members on the University Council. If this is true, it is most strange. Only the Fiji Government, that puts substantial funds into the University, can nominate its own representatives.  There is at least one earlier instance of gross NZ interference in the proper management of  University affairs but since "all's well that  ends well," I'll say no more.

The University of Fiji is a new (2005) university, founded by the Arya Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji. It  main campus is at Saweni, close to Lautoka in the west of the main island. Its other campus is in Suva.

What is most impressive about  this essentially Hindu-conceived and funded institution is the extent to which it has sought to be multicultural. All students must take courses in Contemporary Fiji, Governance and Ethics, Introductory Fijian and Hindi. The belief is that these efforts will go a long way towards creating "one country, one nation and one people".

The University now awaits funding for a Centre for Indigenous Studies which, when complete, will be a teaching, research, performing and exhibition centre for indigenous and multi-ethnic arts and culture for the whole of Fiji.

The Fiji National University will become Fiji's third university next year.  The FNU will incorporate the former Fiji School of Medicine, Fiji College of Advanced Education, Fiji School of Nursing, Fiji College of Agriculture, Fiji Institute of Technology and Lautoka Teachers' College. This initiative to rationalize the use of resources was taken by the Interim Government led by the Minister of Education Filipe Bole (photo).


The Max said…
IMO, the Fiji government made the right decision to combine those institutions and create a new university. The new university provides another avenue for students in Fiji to pursue a degree not currently offered by USP.