University of South Pacific Council meets on report's release

The full council of the University of the South Pacific meets today (Friday) to decide whether a report - on allegations of abuse of office and serious mismanagement - will be made public.

The council, which has been in recess since reinstating the Vice Chancellor and President on 19 June, is also expected to discuss a letter by students, staff and alumni members of the regional institution.

Staff union secretary Ilima Finiasi said they were calling on the council to inform those named in the report that it intended to officially release the report within 30 days.

"They should release the BDO report to the people and all 12-member countries of the USP who are funded by the taxpayers. In this report, they are accountable and let people know what has been the findings."

Mr Finiasi said he was concerned those implicated in the report remained in management positions and he had called for action against the individuals who failed to uphold university policies and procedures.

On 8 June, hundreds of students and staff protested Professor Pal Ahluwalia's suspension by the executive committee of the USP Council, led by Pro Chancellor Winston Thompson.

Mr Finiasi said they were also now calling for the removal of Mr Thompson, who had been "implicated in Professor Ahluwalia's report to executive committee last year of gross mismanagement at the USP".

"It's not in good governance if you're holding the chair of the governing body and you're implicated in such a report," Mr Finiasi said.

"The first principles of good governance is a conflict of interest. We don't think that it's wise or a good thing that he be making decisions when he's been implicated in the vice chancellor's report."

Mr Finiasi said another matter they would like the council to look into was the issue of police presence at the campus during the protests by students and staff.

Mr Finiasi and colleague Margaret Reade-Fong were questioned by police.

"The USP is a regional institution, co-owned by 12 Pacific governments and there was confusion on jurisdiction - what police can do, what they can't do in accessing campus.

"We are asking the council to make clear the policies so everyone knows - the role of the campus security and police access in times like this during the protests.

"Improvements need to be made," Mr Finiasi said.

While the agenda of today's meeting had not been made public, Mr Thompson had reportedly said the meeting was scheduled even though he wasn't invited.

It's understood the virtual meeting will be chaired by new Chancellor and Nauru President Lionel Aingimea, who officially took over the role on Wednesday.