BY LYNTON AARON FILIA
SINU’S Acting Vice Chancellor Professor Basil Marasinghe has finished what he had come to do for the new institute.
Marasinghe said his three-year contract with the Solomon Islands National University is now lapsed and he is in Australia as a happy man who had contributed successfully to SINU.
“My Mission was to convert a College of Higher Education to a fully pledged University has been fulfilled.
“This achievement was made possible by commitment and support of academic and non-academic staff, hardworking senior managers and support of students.”
Marasinghe said although SINU was given university status on January 1, 2013, when he arrived in June 3, 2015 for practical purposes, it was still a Solomon Islands College of Higher Education (SICHE).
He explained during the first three years not a single new academic programme or a significant infrastructure project had commenced.
Given the duty as Acting Vice Chancellor from 2016—2018 there are tangible developments seen because of the team work of SINU board and staffs throughout.
Marasinghe said from 2016—2018, 30 new academic programmes were introduced followed by 10 bachelor’s degree programmes offered at SINU.
20 percent of academic staff are abroad conducting studies leading to masters and doctoral degrees.
Some staff are studying online and SINU pays their fees. Some other staff are conducting research leading to PhDs in SINU.
Now SINU conducts postgraduate degrees in emergency medicine and also in health.
In terms of development projects of infrastructure and students amenities, Marasinghe said nearly 20 projects commenced during the last two years and most of them have been completed and others are nearing completion.
Fisheries Complex commenced, completed and declared open, and although this project was largely funded by South Korea, SINU too had to spend $10million, he said.
The science, teaching and research complex is expected to be by end of June which completely funded by SINU, he said.
Education Complex—this world class facility is fully funded by SINU (SBD120.0 million); it will be ready in 3 months before the scheduled date.
Students amenities development includes study huts built for every school, 12 computer labs set up for five schools and Panatina Pavilion now refurbished.
Dormitory in Ranadi Campus which has not been used for over 5 years has been refurbished.
Fences for Panatina and Kukum Campuses almost completed except where there are issues with illegal settlers, and fence at the Ranadi Campus has been completed.
Library for Panatina Campus is ready, and funds have been allocated and contracts haven signed to refurbish dormitories in Panatina and Kukum Campuses.
Funds have been allocated to purchase new beddings for dormitories.
He said it must be noted that in most of the universities in the Pacific region and in the world, beddings are not provided and students have to bring their own beddings.
“When I arrived in SINU 3 years ago, occupancy in dormitories was less than 30 percent now all the dormitories are fully occupied but we will have to build more dormitories soon,” he said.
Until 2016, SINU Accounts have never been prepared and sent to be audited by Auditor General.
Now the accounts from 2013 – 2016 have been audited by Auditor General. 2017 accounts will be forwarded to AG shortly.
PAYE taxes to the Inland Revenue have not been paid since SINU was given university status.
This has been done and now and SINU is up-to-date with PAYE taxes.
Assets of SINU have been done now by registered assessors (which was never done since SICHE days).
Preparing Annual Reports from 2013 to 2017 are done.
For the first time Students Handbook was published in 2017.
Students gave their fullest cooperation to the management and they are appreciative of infrastructure and students amenities developments.
For the first time since SICHE days a students’ protest and a strike ended in a total failure.
The overwhelming majority of the students rejected recent calls for boycott of lectures and the situation in all three campuses has been peaceful.