The University of the South Pacific recently hosted a 2023 Board Meeting of the Pacific Islands Universities Research Network examining the outcomes of what has been achieved in the past ten years.
The high-level meeting also focused on the impact PIURN has made since its inception in 2013 and in preparation for the 5th PIURN Conference hosted by USP Cook Islands Campus (4-6 July 2023) and to discuss the future of the Network.
USP Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Pal Ahluwalia, President of the University of New Caledonia (UNC), Professor Catherine Ris, as well as co-chairs of PIURN, welcomed the member universities of the consortium, which included Vice-Chancellors from Universities of French Polynesia, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.
The meeting allowed PIURN Board members to reiterate their commitment to enhancing academic and research collaborations between the 14 members’ universities, with a joint PIURN call for research proposals.
They also discussed the Network’s vision, a regional strategy to adopt and critical activities to develop and strengthen PIURN.
USP VCP Professor Ahluwalia described the achievement in ten years as something marvelously done as the network was gathering momentum and acknowledge the work of researchers that made the PIURN research projects a reality.
USP Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education Professor, Jito Vanualailai, on the other hand, highlighted common challenges faced by the Universities in the region such as attracting research funds, building a research culture in the Pacific and increasing outputs, attaining international recognition, improving the wellbeing of communities and advising national and regional policies.
PIURN is now recognized as an essential stakeholder in the Pacific region and has demonstrated its capacity to catalyse the emergence of joint academic projects of regional relevance.
It has secured significant research grants successfully, and the biannual conferences have made it possible to scale up the collaborative dynamic amongst researchers and promote our postgraduate students’ work.
During the meeting, PIURN Coordinator, Mathilde Souchon, presented the impact assessment of PIURN Projects that attracted 2.5 million in research grants following the 17 PIURN research collaborative projects.
“The joint USP-UNC master’s degree in Sustainability Sciences is also an example of the strong dynamic of the Network.”
Additionally, the PIURN Board Meeting was also a chance to leverage the Network’s success, discuss a new vision and mission for PIURN and examine the new memberships’ applications to the Network.