Student numbers expected to double at USP Kiribati
Student numbers are expected to double at the University of South Pacific in Kiribati after a new campus opened last week in Tarawa.
Student numbers are expected to double at the University of South Pacific in Kiribati after a new campus opened last week.
The construction of the new building began in 2014 and was funded by an Asian Development Bank loan of three-point-six million US Dollars.
The new building includes a library, computer lab, teaching rooms, science lab and atoll research centre.
It's a big step up from the first USP centre in Kiribati which opened in 1976 and operated out of a one-room office.
More students will now be able to complete their studies in Kiribati, instead of travelling to the main campus in Fiji.
Bridget Grace spoke with Campus Director Dr Ueantabo Mackenzie.
Dr Ueantabo Mackenzie: This is a significant and indeed historic moment for Kiribati. We used to have a centre that was bursting at its seams, with the enrolments that we have. To put that enrolment in perspective, we are the 4th largest campus in the USB system. With a facility like this we will be able to enrol more students, and teach more programmes in country.
Bridget Grace: How many more students or how many more staff you'll be able to have now?
DM: One of the things that we'll do with the new campus, is do more of the core teaching. In other words having people coming and enrolling together, and finishing together, doing the same programme. We'll start off next year with a Bachelor of Education, Primary and also the Bachelor of Education, Secondary, majoring in language and literature. For those courses we'll teach where we have the capacity to teach with the local staff we'll do that, but we'll fly in lecturers from the main USB campus in Fiji to do the courses.
BG: Is that a new course?
DM: No it's an existing course but normally students enrol in it, like a part-time basis, but with the co-op teaching it will be full-time and in addition to that we'll also start the Masters of Business Administration programme from January next year. And it will be taught by lecturers coming from Fiji delivering courses and then other lecturers will come depending on the scheduling of the units to be offered.
BG: When you're talking about staff flying into teach, is that an unusual approach?
DM: No it's an approach that has been done in other campuses, we've always wanted to do it but we didn't have the facility in our previous building, too small for that purpose. In the previous classroom we didn't have enough classroom, we had to hire classrooms in school next door to us. And now everything is centralised on our campus.
BG: In terms of student numbers do you know how many more students you'll be able to accommodate now?
DM: At the present time we are enrolling 700 students, I think we'll now have the capacity to double that number.
BG: Is there anything else that's in the pipeline?
DM: The next phase of our development is the student accommodation, the problem is we have some students coming from the outer islands. We also have students that stay in homes that are not conducive to study. The government has given us additional land to expand our campus, and we'll use that to build student accommodation and also staff housing.
BG: How would you say that this new campus will benefit the people of Kiribati?
DM: We talk earlier about the Bachelor of Education programme, both Primary and Secondary, the benefit from that is that the government will be able to fund more students. On graduation they go to the schools and improve the teaching standards in the schools. At the moment according to the figures that we have, we are paying for living costs on top of tuition that go to study in Fiji. But when we run them in-country it will be huge savings on government and government will be able to use the savings to fund more teachers to upgrade their qualifications. When I saw off the Vice-Chancellor going back after the opening, he congratulated me saying the new change is started today. I think that's a good way to summarise our feelings after the opening, it's given us a new motivation to work harder now that we have a new facility.
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