University of the South Pacific Expansion Supported by ADB Loan

SUVA , FIJI (19 June 2012) – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the University of the South Pacific (USP) today signed the first loan agreement for a US$19 million loan package to help USP upgrade its regional campuses and ensure that students have access to innovative distance and e-learning.

For ADB, this is the first highly concessional Asian Development Fund (ADF) loan to a regional institution, and USP’s first development loan.

“The Pacific’s population is young, and desperate for high-quality education that will prepare them for better jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities. With the right education and training, they can be the critical drivers of development for the region,” ADB Pacific Department Director-General Xianbin Yao said at the signing ceremony held at USP’s Laucala campus.

Professor Rajesh Chandra, USP Vice Chancellor and President, as well as the Chair Designate of the USP Council, Ikbal Jannif, and government representatives from India, Republic of the Marshall Islands, and Solomon Islands, also attended the ceremony.

“The loan is a commitment by the University to enhance the success of its students by improving learning environments and teaching facilities, and supporting on-campus learning to further strengthen pan-Pacific consciousness across all of its campuses,” Professor Chandra stated.

The loan agreement creates a platform for greater collaboration on resource and knowledge sharing between the two organisations in creating sustainable development for Pacific Island Countries.

Enrolment in higher education in the Pacific region remains low, with rates ranging from 10% in Fiji to less than 5% in most other Pacific island countries. USP’s student body increased to 22,000 in 2011, and is expected to further increase by 16% in 2012. Although demand is increasing, the institution has been hindered by a lack of physical capacity and academic programs.

The US$19 million loan package will comprise four separate components to be implemented over eight years. The first component of the loan, amounting to US$2.6 million, is guaranteed by the Government of Kiribati, and will support civil works and ICT connectivity in the Kiribati campus. This will include the construction of additional classrooms, an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) studio, and student and administrative facilities at the new Kiribati campus.

In the Solomon Islands, the investment of US$9.75m will see the construction of a new campus which is purpose designed to include modern teaching facilities, computer labs, lecture theatres, a library, two science labs, a medical centre, student canteen and other offices and needed amenities.

Further investments from the loan will be made towards the construction of a Regional House for student accommodation at the main Laucala campus in Suva. This investment will cater for students from other Pacific countries and overseas, particularly women with families.

USP will also be expanding the ICT infrastructure at the Regional Campuses as well. Investment in the area of ICT will allow member country campuses to benefit more from the state of art facilities at the Japan-Pacific ICT Centre in Laucala and be part of the knowledge network.

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members -- 48 from the region. In 2011, ADB approvals including cofinancing totaled $21.7 billion.