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USP Staff Unions want aggrieved academics to follow due process

February 13, 2021 4:32 pm

The two Staff Unions of the University of the South Pacific are calling on academics speaking out against ousted VC Professor Pal Ahluwalia to take up their grievances through due process.

This comes after a group of Professors, Associate Professors and Senior Staff sent an open letter that Professor Ahluwalia was not the best choice for USP.

In addition, current and former academics at USP including Marine Science Professor Ciro Rico and Professor Konai Helu Thaman have begun to speak out against the ousted Vice Chancellor.

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In a joint statement the staff union are calling on the eleven professors, associate professors and senior staff to take their concerns to the Acting Vice Chancellor Dr Guilio Paunga which is the proper process.

Association of USP Staff President Elizabeth Read Fong says the eleven academics who wished to remain anonymous should have signed their names to the statement they released.

“This is not the way academics should be expressing their views. We do believe in process and good governance, and if they had their concerns they should have taken it through due process and the proper process is for them to submit it to the Vice Chancellor to go through process not go out to the media is basically what we are saying.”

Meanwhile, the government says there are a number of governance issues within the University of the South Pacific, which happened under the leadership of Professor Pal Ahluwalia.

Economy Minister and Fiji’s representative to the USP Council, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says a simple independent investigation could solve governance issues within USP.

“The USP council should be cognisant of this, the members of the Council from the Fijian side, obviously are seized of this matter, the Pro Chancellor Winston Thompson and the Chair of the Risk and Audit Committee has been making a number of observations, given various reports, they have never been entertained and this is one of the reasons why the Fijian Government stopped its grants, because we are quite concerned and all we are simply asking is an independent investigation.”

Sayed-Khaiyum stresses should an independent assessment be carried out, whatever the outcome, government would then continue with the grant.

The USP Council is scheduled to meet again next Tuesday.

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