Report: Academics run low at university

The University of the South Pacific Laucala Campus. Picture: FILE

THE University of the South Pacific is facing problems of having a large number of academic staff positions vacant.

This was revealed in the review of the university’s 2017 annual report by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Social Affairs yesterday.

The report tabled in Parliament yesterday highlighted that the vacant positions were affecting the university deliver its overall mandate.

The report stated that while the university was resorting to blended modes of learning, the presence of high calibre academic staff members was a prerequisite to ensuring effective teaching and learning and equitable sharing of workloads.

The committee recommended the university to strengthen its human resource recruitment process and offer attractive remuneration packages to address the shortage of academic staff, better co-ordinate with the Department of Immigration for visa extension to facilitate retention of expatriate academic staff and undertake succession planning to avoid shortage of academics.

Lack of adequate teaching, learning facilities and support services at the university’s regional campuses and centres were also a major concern, the review stated.

The committee report noted that discussions and work were being pursued bilaterally with member countries and assistance was being sought from development partners to address the critical issue.

The review also noted the shortage of student accommodation at the university’s Laucala campus in Suva, revealing that lack of funding had meant that the university was not able to build enough accommodation at the campus.

The report highlighted that the building boom in Fiji had driven up the cost of construction, and the scarcity of development funding were challenges that have slowed down the construction of new accommodation.

The committee recommended the university provide adequate student accommodation to meet student demand.

The committee report will be debated in Parliament at a later sitting date.

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