One hundred and fourty-one University of the South Pacific (U.S.P.) students graduated at the E.F.K.S. Hall at Sogi yesterday – the largest number of graduates recorded by the U.S.P. Alafua campus so far.
Present at the auspicious occasion were Members of Parliament, members of the diplomatic corps, academics, families and friends, some of whom flew into Samoa to witness the achievements of their sons and daughters.
Eight students graduated with Masters Degrees and 6 percent of the total graduates received Postgraduate qualifications.
Students from 11 countries graduated, including students from non-regional countries Belize, Jamaica, New Zealand and Nigeria.
Campus Director, Leatuaolevao Ruby Va’a, says the increase in number of graduates reflect the quality of the teaching support system in U.S.P. Alafua.
“Usually in the previous years, about 80 to 90 students graduate from the Campus and last year we surpassed 100,” she said.
“That means a large number of students are opting for Alafua and are passing too, and I think that’s important and to have a student learning support services system to teach the students, support them, look out for them and nurture them is important as well.
“The Student Learning Support Services has been greatly strengthened this year by the appointment of a student learning specialist, Niseta Buatava, who joined the campus in Apia and this is making great impact for the students of Alafua campus and Savai’i Centre.”
Another significant highlight for U.S.P. Alafua is that of the 141 graduates, 58 percent were women.
“In Samoa, it is quite normal for a high percentage of women graduating, what we really need to look at is the regional categories,” Leatuaolevao said.
“What we can see is that in this graduation, there are a high number of women from the region who are graduating and that’s really good.
“One good thing is that the gold medalists are women from regional countries, one is from Fiji and the other is from the Solomon Islands and they both were part of the School of Agriculture and Food Technology (S.A.F.T.).”
Leatuaolevao said there was also an increase in number of students, especially women graduating from the School of Agriculture and Food Technology.
“Women are taking over, especially in the field of agriculture where more women are graduating and this is also bridging the gap between men and women and agriculture.
“The increasing number of students is not only because of the importance of agriculture to the region, but also the quality of our revised agriculture programme.
“There is continuous support from member countries to send their students to Alafua and the strong support from Samoa has made a difference from 2013 onwards.”
In congratulating the graduates, Leatuaolevao said the end of the graduation celebration marked the greatest chapter in their lives.
“After today (yesterday), you will begin another journey armed with success of your education and your experience of these past years.
“How you trod from this day onwards will be a testament of the ambition and dedication that is within you.
“You all have worked hard and persevered and you must remember to thank those who have supported you in your journey – your parents and families, sponsors, lecturers and tutors without whose support, you would not have reached this far.”
For 2017, 523 students enrolled in the undergraduate programmes and 40 students in the postgraduate programmes. There are 23 Postgraduate Diploma, 13 Masters and four PhD students making a total of 563 students.