University of the South Pacific v-c secures reappointment

Pal Ahluwalia to run multi-country university from Samoa, as audit clears management of breaches

八月 9, 2021
Asia-Pacific University Ranking

Ousted University of the South Pacific (USP) vice-chancellor Pal Ahluwalia has formally resumed his duties after signing a new contract.

In a statement, USP said it was “delighted” that Professor Ahluwalia had agreed to lead the university for another three years. He will be based on USP’s campus in the Samoan capital of Apia.

Professor Ahluwalia was deported in February from Fiji, where the unique multi-country university is headquartered, amid recriminations triggered almost two years earlier when he raised allegations of mismanagement by members of the institution’s previous administration.

The USP council resolved to offer him a new contract in early June, but the process was held up by disagreements over the legality of his reappointment.

Professor Ahluwalia said he was glad to be running the university again in a formal capacity. He and his wife are working through the logistics of relocating to Samoa from Nauru, where he has been based since February. The journey is likely to necessitate two weeks of quarantine in Brisbane and again in Samoa.

The USP Students’ Association also welcomed the vice-chancellor’s reappointment. “We would like to sincerely thank the university council for its bold leadership,” it said in a statement. “We have full confidence in the leadership of Professor Pal and we look forward to continuing our shared vision and journey.”

Claims and counter-claims about mismanagement and governance problems at USP appear to have been put to bed following a string of meetings of the council in July.

In a statement issued following the last of the four meetings, on 20 July, the council noted that investigations by auditing firm KPMG had “found no evidence of material policy breaches by management”.

The Fiji Sun had earlier reported that the KPMG report had “vindicated many of the discrepancies in the university’s internal operations”, including appointments and contract renewals involving senior administrators.



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