To'abaita Authority for Research & Development (TARD)

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Solomon government hopeful to open USP's fourth campus in Honiara by 2008: Minister

The Solomon Islands Education Minister, Dr Derek Sikua told students at the University of the South Pacific (USP) in Suva last night that the government is committed to the establishment of USP's fourth campus in Solomon Islands and is hopeful that the campus will be opened by 2008.

According to Dr Sikua, the government needs an initial SBD$40 million to relocate the current USP Solomon Islands Campus in Honiara to the new earmarked site near the Solomon Islands College of Higher Education (SICHE), which will enable the campus to open its doors to the first intakes.

Sikua adds that in order to construct halls of residence or dormitories for students as well as staff quarters, the government would need a total of around SBD$130 million.

It is understood the Solomon government is responsible for construction of that campus while USP will only provide the human resources and other facilities to get the campus rolling.

Dr Sikua and Barnabas Sanga attended the annual USP Council meeting in Suva over the past four days to update council members of the progress made so far in the preparation work.

The government and the USP on February signed a letter of intent to commit themselves on the project. Following that, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is expected to be signed to allow the actual groundwork to follow with the construction of the complex.

Meanwhile, the minister and his delegation also used last night's meeting to respond to a submission that was made earlier in the week by the Solomon Islands Student Association (SISA) with regards to some outstanding issues that affects the wellbeing of SIG sponsored students in Fiji.

The delegation revealed that the overall performance of Solomon students at USP was well above average compared to other regional students. It was also indicated that the need to have a SIG Scholarship liaising officer in Suva be put on hold until such a time the government sees appropriate.

Dr Sikua also stressed that the government will not allow students to seek extra semesters for their scholarship after failing to graduate at the expected time. He added that if a student took three years to complete a Bachelors degree then it is a policy that the student immediately return home and serve the country for at least three years before qualifying to apply for a SIG Scholarship to do postgraduate studies.

The minister and his team travelled to Nadi today and are expected to return to Honiara tomorrow.

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