“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. Fiji has a vision for a better higher education system. Education is a basic need of every society. It is a fundamental pillar of human rights, democracy, sustainable development and peace, and must therefore become accessible to all throughout life, that is, it must be accessible to all who desire it in their lifetime.
Higher education in Fiji is faced with very severe challenges in the shape of various Economic, Social, Political and Moral changes. In fact Fiji’s level of tertiary education is low by international standards, its gross participation rate standing at 15 percent in 2006. This is much lower than the 40-50 percent that the World Bank recommends as the minimum for developing countries if they are to succeed in the new knowledge economy and society.
Tertiary Institution like the universities play a very big role towards the society in being accountable in the use of public, private, national and international resources and to ensure that the society gets a fair return on their investment on education. Economic problem is basically the problem of choice which arises because of scarcity of resources. Human wants are unlimited but means to satisfy them are limited.
The Fiji economy has experienced major difficulties in recent years and the economy is expected to show negative growth in 2009. In this situation, financing of higher education is even more challenging than normal. It is for this reason that the University of the South Pacific in its submission to its University Grants Commission (UGC) has proposed that the funding from governments to the University be reduced by 2% for the next three years rather than increased as has always been the case up to this point .
In this financial environment all new developments in higher education will need to be very prudent and ensure that the scarce resources available to education are used to enhance quality, access and new opportunities rather than to duplicate the provisions that already exist which will lead to a dilution of quality. Rather than duplicate, new institutions will need to focus on gaps in education and training.