Cooks campus should get say in USP crisis talks – Crocombe

Saturday June 13, 2020 Written by Published in Education
In 2011, Crocombe was the first Cook Islands woman to receive a Doctor of Letters from the University of the South Pacific. 11081911/11081915 In 2011, Crocombe was the first Cook Islands woman to receive a Doctor of Letters from the University of the South Pacific. 11081911/11081915

One of Cook Islands’ leading academics says there is no way students and staff are not impacted by the troubles taking place at the University of the South Pacific’s Suva campus.

Earlier this week in Suva, USP pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Pal Ahluwahia was suspended over allegations of material misconduct by the executive committee of the USP Council led by Pro Chancellor Winston Thompson.

Dr Marjorie Crocombe, who has had a strong association with the university since it was established in 1969 as both a student and a staff member, is disappointed decisions are being made without the full consultation of regional members of the university.

“All 12 countries/regional members of the institution need to be party to the discussions taking place, they can’t just happen behind closed doors in Suva,” she said.

By default, staff and students at USP’s Cook Islands campus were impacted, Crocombe said.

Campus director Dr Debi Futter-Puati reiterate that no regional campus was implicated in financial mismanagement allegations. “Of course this experience impacts and unsettles staff and students across the region,” she said.

“USP has gone the extra mile to provide the minimum disturbance to students during Covid-19 and we are attempting to do the same while Council work on a solution to the current problems being experienced and addressing the findings of the financial investigation.” 

Cook Islands has two students studying at the USP Suva campus and almost 200 studying via the Cook Islands USP campus in Rarotonga.

Cook Islands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration in a statement said as a member country of the USP and as a member of Council, Cook Islands looked forward to the convening of an extraordinary Council meeting this month and joining all Council members in deliberations that go to the heart of welfare of staff and students, governance and the future of the regional university.

“The Cook Islands is a proud founding member of USP and in its 50 plus years of the university’s existence, we are as steadfast and committed to our University community as ever. 

“The welfare of staff and students of the university must be given priority consideration, particularly amidst the unprecedented challenges that have arisen with Covid-19.”

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