USP spending $5m to speed up long delayed facilities overhaul

An artist’s impression of the proposed new Solomon Islands’ campus for the University of the South Pacific. Image: USP/SPAC

By Dipesh Kumar in Suva

The University of the South Pacific can expect improved facilities after Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Pal Ahluwalia has confirmed at least $5 million would be invested in deferred maintenance works this year.

During the USP Vice-Chancellor’s Forum late last year on the Laucala campus, Professor Ahluwalia said deferred maintenance works and improving the state of some campuses and facilities topped the list of priorities for the university.

He said this did not mean USP was “out of the woods” in terms of its financial standing.

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“It just means we are starting to address a very long-standing issue at the university,” he said.

“Although our income has slipped, we are not in any financial crisis. We are managing our finances well.”

Professor Ahluwalia previously told Wansolwara that a lot of maintenance works had been deferred.

“Some of our regional campuses like the Solomon Islands are in critical condition, so we need to fix those things, but there are other campuses which also needs investments, like Alafua.

‘We have to invest’
“There is only a fixed amount of money, and it’s how we distribute the money and how we make sure we maintain the estate we have.

“If we don’t invest in it, it keeps getting worse. So it’s clearly imperative that we have to invest. It’s what speed and at what rate we can do that.

“We have to do it in a sustainable way,” he had told Wansolwara.

The forum provided a platform for staff members to raise issues regarding the overall operations of the University.

And while the USP community and stakeholders were rocked by recent allegations of abuse of office levelled against some senior management and former vice-chancellor Professor Rajesh Chandra, Professor Ahluwalia said the council-appointed commission would deal with the issues.

“I have to take faith and put trust in the council and if I am helping in any way, [I would] tell staff that they should trust that process,” he said.

“I wanted to draw a line so that the future is where we are going. I absolutely understand where people are coming from but it’s not a decision I control. It’s a council decision.”

Dipesh Kumar is a Wansolwara student journalist. This article is republished in partnership with USP Journalism.

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