The University of Fiji has announced that it will re-open from April 28th; however students will resume classes only from Monday May 4th.
The period of a week from 28th April until May 4th will allow lecturers time to prepare for the new teaching and learning modalities in view of the Covid 19 crisis and public health compulsory restrictions.
Speaking on behalf of the University of Fiji Council, the Chairperson of Council, Pro-Chancellor Pandit Kamlesh Arya said that a Senior Management Group meeting held at the University on Saturday 25th April decided
that the best way forward for optimum teaching and learning was to become innovative with the University’s delivery models.
The University would ensure that all lecturers, under the supervision of their respective Deans, would amend their teaching and learning methodologies and schedules to accommodate either a complete on-line transfer
of lectures, or a blended mode with limited face to face contact for relevant coursesstrictly based on government’s public health restrictions, Pandit Arya said.
The learning guidelines for students will be determined by each Dean and implemented across the University by the Registrar, Ms Karishma Mani, and the Executive Director Finance, Mr Ravineet
This will be a challenge for our staff and students alike because the University of Fiji has prided itself on its learning modes due to the special nature of the origin and rationale of the University said Pandit
Arya. Such pedagogy had been successful through right-sizing of classes and the personal attention paid to each student in the lecture rooms.
However, Pandit Arya said that the University Deans now also recognised the opportunity presented by the otherwise ill-effects of the coronavirus pandemic to ensure that all students would be
able to fully resume their learning in accordance with the credit point requirements of the Fiji Higher Education Commission and the Ministry of Education. Lecturers, under the guidance of their Deans, were investigating and implementing creative methods of
teaching so that their students would not be disadvantaged in the new normal, he said.
The University will resume teaching under the new guidelines on Monday 4th May. Students were being asked to contact their lecturers to receive further information regarding their programmes.
The University of Fiji Council at the weekend also announced the appointment of an Acting Vice-Chancellor to oversee the operations of the University of Fiji with immediate effect.
The new Acting Vice Chancellor is Professor Shaista Shameem.
Professor Shameem has been the Dean of the Justice Devendra Pathik School of Law since 2016. She first joined the University in 2009 as Associate Professor in the School of Law and, after a brief period away, rejoined
the University in 2015.
Speaking on behalf of the University Council, Pandit Kamlesh Arya said that the Council had appointed Professor Shameem to act as the Vice Chancellor and take the University through the crisis faced by all higher
institutions as a result of the menace of Covid 19.
The crisis had impacted on the University’s ability to deliver lectures as efficiently as it had been able to previously but it had resolved to implement new teaching techniques so that students would be able to
meet their prerequisites and other requirements for graduation within time.
Pandit Arya said that the University Council had remained robust and supportive of his chairpersonship during the lockdown and restrictions imposed by the Government and the Ministry of Education in response to the
crisis. He expressed gratitude for the Council’s wisdom and excellent advice during the trying times faced by the institution recently. These challenging times were now behind them and the University looked forward to a new era with a new perspective in higher
education- where it was determined to cooperatively work towards being simply the best.
Pandit Arya said that the Council had now passed on the responsibility of operationally taking the University forward to Acting Vice Chancellor Professor Shameem who had the requisite qualifications and experience
to provide a forward-looking higher educational strategy in the new Fijian context.
Professor Shameem has Law, Arts and Social Science qualifications. She has a Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD in Sociology) and a Doctorate of Juridical Science (SJD in Law). She is a Master of Arts as well as a Master
of Law. She has a post-graduate Leadership qualification from the JFK School of Government, Harvard University.
Professor Shameem previously taught Sociology, Social Anthropology and Women Studies at theUniversity of Waikato. She was the Director of the Fiji Human Rights Commission from 1999-2007and the Ombudsman of Fiji from
2007-2009.She was a journalist with the Fiji Times and Herald in the early part of her career prior to moving intoacademia.
Professor Shameem worked as a human rights expert for the United Nations Human Rights Councilfrom 2004-2010; in this capacity she provided advice and recommendations to the Council in theareas of mercenarism, private
military and security companies, justice, and human rights institutions.
Professor Shameem is well-published in the areas of Sociology, Women Studies, Law and HumanRights.
In 2006 she was the recipient of the Westpac Business Executive Award.
Professor Shameem is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.