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USP probe

Professor Wadan Narsey, Suva
It is wonderful that USP management is so quick off the mark to investigate possible breaches of the USP code of conduct by two journalism lecturers, who merely gave their personal views to the media on continuing media censorship in Fiji, and military brutality in the past.
But so far, both USP management and the Chair of USP Council have refused to initiate any inquiries or make any public response whatsoever into two important issues concerning the performance of USP management, raised previously by the public through the media.
Both these issues concern transparency, good governance and accountability, which are all part of USP’s Mission and Vision statements, that an honest and effective USP Council, the ultimate governing body of USP, should demand from USP management.
Can the Chairman of USP Council (Ikbal Jannif) inform the taxpayers of Fiji and the USP region, what exactly were the circumstances which led to the recent resignation of Professor Susan Kelly (Deputy Vice Chancellor at USP), at great financial cost to the University and taxpayers?
The second issue concerns talented and scarce regional academics leaving USP, clearly unwanted by the USP management. The most recent case was Professor of Economics, Dr Biman Prasad, who was outstanding as Dean for several years, and in the opinion of most senior academic colleagues and sectional administrators at USP, eminently qualified, academically and administratively, to be appointed to the position of Deputy Vice Chancellor, for which he had unsuccessfully applied (I mean no disrespect to the appointed individual who has the good luck to be a beneficiary of the circumstances).
The USP Appointment Committee (of which Ikbal Jannif was also Chairman) was entitled to make its own judgment.
But, as a taxpayer and a former USP professor concerned about serious ongoing governance issues at USP, I wish to question if the final appointment committee meeting, followed the basic principles of fairness and natural justice to Professor Biman Prasad.
(1) After six months of delay, while Professor Prasad (and the applicants) were put through any number of interviews and tests, why was the appointment committee meeting not postponed for a few days, because the Chairman (Mr Jannif) was supposedly “ill-disposed” on that particular day of the final committee meeting?
(2) Why was the meeting chaired by the Deputy Chair of Council, who was not on the original Appointments Committee, who was not present at the public presentations by the candidates, who was not part of the earlier interview processes, and who would therefore not have been in a position to judge the relative merits of the candidates?
(3) Is it correct that at that last appointment committee meeting (at which there were two absentees), the same Acting Chairperson, supported by the Vice Chancellor, took an active role in pushing for the current appointee, who had nowhere near the academic or administrative qualifications of Professor Prasad, instead of letting the normal committee members make the decision?
Mr Jannif must be accountable to the taxpayers as Chair of the ultimate governing body, USP Council, and as Chairman of this particular Appointment Committee, which supposedly found Professor Biman Prasad’s application for the position of Deputy Vice Chancellor, inferior to that of the current appointee.
Can Ikbal Jannif, also a former Chairman of Transparency International Fiji, please personally enlighten the public on these two issues, answer the three questions raised above, and put into practice the principles of transparency and accountability, which USP management are often preaching to the Pacific taxpayers who “own” USP?

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5 thoughts on “USP probe

  1. We are unable to respond to the issues you raise at this time.

    But between you and me, we all know that we were told who to appoint. The regime threatened to cut our funding if we continued to hire persons who are independent of thought and mind.

    We needed to appoint someone with private sector experience in mixed meat products and production line experience. USP (Ultimate Sausage Production) is pleased to announce that we have significantly contributed to the funding of the university through the sale of our hearty and wholesome meat by product produce.

    We appreciate that due to the political involvement in university affairs, including recruitment, that our graduates qualifications will only be recognised in Fiji. We are awaiting response from the governments of Nauru and Kazikstan to our request for USP qualifications to be recognised in their nations. We would consider a favourable response from these economic powerhouses to drastically increase our graduates chances of future employment.

    Disclaimer: The views expressed above are from the USP and do not necessarily represent the views of the current military dictatorship, whoops , I meant to say the current government.

  2. USP you cannot teach and uphold democracy & Human rights on one hand and then support a government that abuses all that which you stood for. unethical and demoralising of a institution that is suppose to maintain its academic freedom.

  3. That is not fair.

    Iqbal Jannif collected 200 empty chicken noodle packets to get his job. As did the other board members. The damage that Ms Williams and the USP board have done to their students is immeasurable. USP grads will be unemployable in the region and unemployable in Fiji when the regime is gone.

    They would have been wiser to keep their mouths shut. And they are supposed to be educated? It is no secret that Fiji’s has had its media supressed since 2006. That can hardly be considered the revelation of the century. As for Ashwin Raj. Those who can do and those who can’t get jobs like his.

    He has to get a pair of better shoes. If he keeps slipping over in front of Khaiyum those balls are always going to end up in his mouth. You say it is an accident. Wearing those same shoes everyday can be no accident. Perhaps contributory negligence.

  4. Now we are hitting the right button! The USP council chairman is on a mission to reduce USP to nothing more than a puppet higher education institution of the Fiji regime. Esther William’s utterance that USP is a government institution says it all! Like all other government institutions of the land that Bainimarama has turned into his puppets, the USP has likewise lost its way under the current chairmanship and management team who we all know are regime sympathizers. There is hardly any integrity among them lot and the unfortunate thing is that they are taking the organisation, the staff and most importantly the students down with them on their journey to the lowest of academic standards.

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