An additional 47 graduates were presented to the Chancellor, having completed their awards since the last in-country graduation in October 2015, making a total of 87 students. Nineteen of the graduating students received double awards – the Graduate Certificate in Public Administration and the Post Graduate Diploma in Commerce.
Two students graduated at Masters level. More than 50 per cent of the awards were at post-graduate level. In addition, a further nine students with post-graduate awards from AUT University in a collaboration with USP were recognised. These included three Masters by research students. The Graduates’ address was given by Mani Mate, who graduated with a Masters of Commerce in Tourism and Hospitality.
Mate was a member of the original cohort of the BCom Hotel Management programme in the Cook Islands. He spoke of his journey from in-country completion of the diploma to degree studies at Laucala, Fiji, followed by Masters studies and a research mini-thesis.
In his address, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Coll noted that the June 2018 Cook Islands parliamentary elections had returned six USP Masters graduates to a parliament of 23, comprising five MBA graduates and one Masters of Education.
Two of these USP graduates now sit in Cabinet and one is deputy prime minister and Finance minister. Additionally, the recent announcement of a new Head of Cook Islands Ministries, indicates that seven of the 13 Heads of Ministries are USP graduates – three male and four female.
“As of this graduation, approximately 257 of our 500 plus USP Cook Islands graduates now hold post-graduate degrees, including 107 with Masters degrees,” said Professor Coll. Four students are undertaking PhD studies and around 15 have commenced Masters by research programmes.
“In recognition of the growing number of post-graduate students in the Cook Islands, I am pleased to announce that, in May this year, the government of the Cook Islands and the university agreed to jointly fund a Centre for Research and Policy Studies at USP Cook Islands and funding has been set aside in the government’s 2018/9 Budget for the new centre. This will ensure support and local supervision of Masters by research and PhD students with a particular focus on policy research.”
Professor Coll said the Cook Islands government had designated USP Cook Islands as the location for the Cook Islands and Government of India’s joint Centre for Excellence in Information Technology, designed to increase the country’s capacity in advanced computing and cyber security as well as developing ICT awareness at all levels of government, business and the community.
“The government has committed funding over the coming four years to meet its component of the total costs of the centre.”
The graduation received huge community support, with the audience filling both domes of the National Auditorium.
- Rod Dickson