Dialogue Fiji to Host Forum on Addressing Declining Quality in Fiji’s Tertiary Education

Dialogue Fiji is orgainising a panel discussion in Suva this week to address the quality of education in Fiji’s tertiary institutions. 

Scheduled for Wednesday, May 1 at the Tanoa Plaza the panel discussion has been organised amidst growing concerns raised by employers and other stakeholders that the quality of graduates produced by local tertiary education institutions appears to be declining.

Nilesh Lal, Executive Director of Dialogue Fiji said the concerns do not correlate with the investment subsequent Fijian governments have put into education through direct government transfers and payment of tuition and other fees by the government via the Tertiary Scholarships and Loans Service.

“A negative consequence of the high level of competition for students among the tertiary education providers in Fiji has been the lowering admission requirements to increase enrollment of students,” Lal said. “Now, recent public statements by employers that university students who lack basic competencies raise questions about the quality of tertiary education being delivered and the rigour of the assessments done before certification of graduates.

“The quality of its human resources is an important, if not the most important determinant of the economic development prospects of a country. The Fijian government’s huge investment into developing the capacity of our human resources is in line with prevailing theories of growth. However, a stock-take must be done to ensure that this investment pays off, rather than leading to a situation where tertiary education providers, driven by commercial interest, are churning out substandard graduates. It is critical in an economy like Fiji, given our scarce resources, that the taxpayer gets value for every dollar that is spent.

The forum marks the first time that various stakeholders, including heads of major universities, the head of the regulatory body (Fiji Higher Education Commission), the head of the funding body (TSLS), and employers’ representatives— will congregate to collectively discuss the issue.”

Panelists include Dr. Rohit Kishore – CEO, Fiji Higher Education Commission (FHEC), Prof. Unaisi Baba – Vice Chancellor, Fiji National University (FNU), Prof. Shaista Shameem – Vice Chancellor, The University of Fiji (UoF), Prof. Pal Ahluwalia, Vice Chancellor, The University of the South Pacific, Jonetani Tonewai – CEO, Fiji Commerce & Employers Federation (FCEF) and Hasmukh Lal – CEO, TertiaryScholarships and Loans Service (TSLS) CSO representative.

The panel discussion is scheduled from 6.30 pm to 9 pm.

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