Home » Uncategorized » USP is not a Fiji government institution, as claimed by the university, but is funded by 12 governments in the Pacific and a number of international donors.

USP is not a Fiji government institution, as claimed by the university, but is funded by 12 governments in the Pacific and a number of international donors.

USP criticised for its handling of journalism academics

Originally aired on Dateline Pacific, Tuesday 1 July 2014

The Fiji National Federation Party leader says he is appalled at how the USP has dealt with comments made by two of its journalism academics.″

TRANSCRIPT

The Fiji National Federation Party leader and former University of the South Pacific academic, Biman Prasad, says he is appalled by how the university dealt with comments made by two of its journalism academics.

Pat Craddock and Matthew Thompson were admonished by the USP after speaking out about alleged government harassment of the media and justification of torture by the military.

Dr Prasad says the university should be promoting academic freedom and healthy debate on democracy, human rights and media freedom.

He told Mary Baines the USP is not a Fiji government institution, as claimed by the university, but is funded by 12 governments in the Pacific and a number of international donors.

BIMAN PRASAD: The USP is a regional organisation. The academic freedom is fundamental to the work of academics, and I think these two academics in the journalism program at the University of the South Pacific were merely exercising their role as academics and commenting on a very, very important issue. I am appalled at the way in which the government has reacted through MIDA and indeed how the University of the South Pacific has reacted to the work and the comment of these two academics.

MARY BAINES: During a meeting between Mr Craddock and the acting vice chancellor Esther Williams, Dr Williams said Fiji is not under a democratic government and the USP has to be very careful about what is put in the news media. What do you think about the USP administration kowtowing to the regime?

BP: For the university to take a position which puts these two academics into a difficult position in my view is uncalled for. I think the university should be a place to promote academic freedom, the ideals of democracy, human rights and freedom for our people. And it is unfortunate that Dr Esther Williams has equated the University of the South Pacific as a government institution. I think that is totally irresponsible for her to do that. It is not a government institution, it is a regional institution funded by 12 governments in the Pacific, including Fiji government which gives more but it is also funded by Australia and New Zealand and USP also gets funding from many other organisations. I am appalled at the comments by Dr Esther Williams. She should clarify that and retract her statement that the USP is a government institution. It is not a government institution.

MB: Australia donates about 28 million, New Zealand 7 million, Japan 5 million. Do you know how much funding is received from the Fiji government, because it seems as though a big whack of it is actually received from overseas?

BP: The Fiji government is the largest contributor when you look at all the governments that own the university. But the spirit of the organisation is that you know it’s a regional organisation, every member country has the same right to contribute and be concerned about the role of the university. And academic freedom is fundamental to the work of academics and it’s fundamental to the operation of an academic institution like the University of the South Pacific. University is a place where we should promote dissent, disagreement, debate. And of course academic freedom comes with a certain amount of responsibility, and in this case the two academics, I don’t think they were irresponsible, they were very responsible, they were merely talking about an important issue of media freedom and allowing media personnel to engage in that kind of environment without fear and favour.

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9 thoughts on “USP is not a Fiji government institution, as claimed by the university, but is funded by 12 governments in the Pacific and a number of international donors.

  1. It is easy to see why Biman Prasad is a former academic of USP and not a current one.

    He is intelligent. He is skilled in his field of expertise. He has integrity. He has sound ethics.

    He does not fit the current local criteria AT ALL.

  2. The one thing that the government is afraid of is the truth: the truth behind their treason; the truth behind their assault, torture and murders; the truth behind their alleged “transparency”.

    So any commentator, whether in the media or the USP is to be persecuted because the truth is the last thing that they want.

  3. It just shows how USP’s terminal decline! Even this woman at the heart of its management believes it is a government institution when it is not, and suggests it should tow government line by not saying anything that would damage the regime. This reduces the USP to another new low. Submitting to unlawful undemocratic rule of Bainimarama as if he is god and forcing staff to submit likewise by prohibiting their right to exercise professional ethos of independent critical thinking and expression goes against all what an institution of higher education is all about! What on earth does the USP stand for anymore when this is what it is about?? Might as well change the USP charter, give up funding from donors, hire academic puppets and rely on the lone support of Bainimarama’s illegal government to truly reflect this new institutional culture and stop pretending what USP does not represent anymore!

  4. Blame it on the weak, cowardly and ineffectual leadership of VC Rajesh Chandra.

  5. @ Weak leadership – it appears every institution the Bainikaiyum regime touches, it quickly descends it into rotting mode! The longs list of entities ruined by their cancerous touch is continuing to grow and with the way their demolition work has gone, there will be no other credible institutions to rely on. Parliament, police, civil service, judiciary, army, Air Fiji, Council of Chiefs, USP, and host of public and private bodies including the FRU, Fiji Sports Council and some faith groups have all been plagued by the Bainikaiyum disease! Fiji continues rotting as we blog and the criminals at the helm wouldn’t care less about its terminal decline……what a pity.

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