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USP Provides Maximum Support For Students And Offers Flexible Assessment And Exam Options

The Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has impacted the way people live their lives across the world. For the delivery of tertiary education, COVID-19 has affected the face-to-face activities of universities and educational institutions. Universities have had to find online learning solutions for students to continue with their studies remotely.

The University of the South Pacific has responded to the COVID-19 crisis by closing face-toface activities of the institution, especially within its main Laucala Campus in Suva and its other Fiji-based campuses, to ensure the safety of students and to prevent the spread of the virus.

It has reinforced distance and flexible learning and deployed remote learning modalities using various formats and platforms (online and offline), to ensure that students can pass their courses amidst the uncertainty of the COVID-19 crisis.

The University has offered students maximum flexibility with regards to assessments and exams.

USP students are given various options of assessments. These include “e-Portfolios, quizzes, essays, take-home exams, forum assignments, and other forms of assessment. This gives more flexibility, allowing students to work on their assignments over a longer period rather than to a strictly timetabled exam schedule,” said USP’s Director of Education, Dr Matthew Hayward.

According to Dr Hayward, the University has also come up with innovative solutions to offer exams that were not initially designed for the online platform.

“There are a few programmes which require final exams to meet the requirements of external accreditors.

“In these cases, we have redesigned the final exam to be online-friendly, allowing additional time to troubleshoot problems and keeping dedicated support staff available to resolve any technical issues in good time,” Dr Hayward added.

With over forty years of experience in distance learning, USP is well aware of the problems that students may face when studying remotely, and is doing all it can to support its students.

“We understand that students are under a lot of pressure this semester,” Dr Hayward said. “

Studying from home brings many challenges, including limited connectivity or access to devices, and additional caregiving and domestic responsibilities. At the same time, many students are worried that they will fall behind with their courses if they let their assignments carry over into the next semester. We are therefore offering a range of support services, including flexibility, to ensure that all of our students succeed in their courses this semester,” he added.

Course coordinators are always available to provide students guidance and flexibility with deadlines, and students who are struggling with final assignments are encouraged to reach out to their course coordinators for support.

Students concerned about their final assignments can also call the USP toll-free Call Centre on 1568.

USP reassures its students of the rigorous quality assurance measures for all its programmes to support its students.

The University was recently ranked 11th in Crisis Management amongst the top 100 universities globally in the World Universities Real Impact (WURI) ranking system.

WURI was created to evaluate universities' innovative programmes and measure universities' performance in creating real value to society and providing opportunities for the future in Industrial applications; value-creating startups and entrepreneurship; Social responsibility; ethics and integrity; student mobility and openness; and crisis management. 

The University of the South Pacific entered in the category of “Crisis Management” and provided the details of how it responded to COVID-19 in 2020. Its submission, titled Continuity of Education amidst COVID-19 Pandemic, was submitted in December 2020. 

“WURI assessed USP on its ability to thrive under crisis rather than just to survive, and this high ranking recognises the additional measures we have put in place to support our students during the COVID-19 crisis,” Dr Hayward said. “The most important thing for our students to remember is that we are here for them, through thick and thin.”

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