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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Samoa University Graduation Date Change ‘Final’
Pushed back to accommodate exams for late-paying students

Kolotita Talatalaga

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Nov. 29, 2012) – The National University of Samoa (NUS) is not budging over its new graduation date for Foundation students, despite a request from an angry parent.

Peta, the mother of a Foundation student had asked if their graduation could be returned to its original date of 11 December.

In the course of the conversation with the NUS Vice-Chancellor, Professor Fui Asofou So’o, the mother said the Vice Chancellor was also frustrated.

"He is just as frustrated about the whole situation," said Peta. "But he said even if he resigned, that still would not resolve the issue."

The graduation date changes are because students who had unpaid fees were given another chance to sit their exams at a later date. This meant the graduation date for all Foundation students also had to be put back to give time for processing and marking of papers.

Peta said the Vice Chancellor said he understood her anger and frustration.

"He told me they have changed all the schedules because the Prime Minister and Cabinet instructed them to let those kids have another chance to sit exams," Peta said.

Requests for a comment from Professor Fui yesterday, were unsuccessful.

Peta, who declined to give her full name, is based in Australia. She gave a full account of her disappointment in the Thursday 22 November edition of this newspaper.

She told of her heartbreak when she found out she will not witness her daughter, a Foundation student at NUS, graduate.

She and several other family members from Australia and New Zealand booked their fares to Samoa to coincide with the original graduation date for Foundation students, which was the 11th of December.

A recent decision made by the Vice Chancellor and NUS Council saw a change to the graduation date for Foundation students which put it back to the 18th of December.

Peta’s problem is that she and other family members booked their return tickets to Australia and New Zealand for the 13th of December, meaning they will miss the graduation ceremony.

Peta said the only possible solution Professor Fui had to offer was for her daughter to graduate with the Australia-Pacific Technical College (APTC) students on the 11th of December.

"That’s not right. My daughter will feel left out…she deserves to graduate with her own peers," Peta said.

Peta then asked Professor Fui if the University was able to compensate the money she and her family will have to pay to change their return dates.

She was told the university does not have the money to compensate.

"I then asked if he could talk with the government, since he said the decision was based on the Prime Minister’s instructions, and he said no to that as well. He said the government would tell the university to pay."

Peta is also angry confirmation of the new graduation dates were made on the television, radio and newspapers last Friday, even though earlier in the week she had voiced her concerns to NUS Registrar, Luagalau Foisaga Eteuati-Shon.

"I thought they would at least take my situation into account before broadcasting the confirmation of dates – I feel my situation is unimportant to them," she said.

Although the outcome of her meeting with Professor Fui was not as she had hoped, she remains optimistic.

"I still have a few other people to talk to… I’m not giving up just yet. The only other thing I can do is hope," she said. "I’m hopeful other parents in a similar situation will hear my story and back me up."

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