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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

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Samoa Government Commits To Funding Medical University
Negotiations with school’s principal funder incomplete

By Lanuola Tupufia

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Jan. 28, 2013) – The Oceania University of Medicine (OUM) is now being funded by the Samoan government.

However, it is yet to complete negotiations with the medical school’s Chairman of the Board, Taffy Gould, on the terms of the takeover.

The latest development was confirmed by the Minister of Health, Tuitama Dr. Leao Talalelei Tuitama.

In an interview with the Sunday Samoan, Tuitama said the Government has stepped in to fund the medical school.

"The government is funding OUM and we are negotiating with the woman who funds the school regarding the possibility of the school being run by itself," said Tuitama.

"We are still in that process of negotiation on the terms on what is necessary because she (Ms. Gould) still has an interest in the school considering its international students."

The Minister pointed out that the medical school started with only postgraduate entry students but has now opened the doors for undergraduates.

"The undergraduates study for five year and this has caused a gap in the management of the school because of the five-year course and four-year course for postgraduates.

"International students study online but they come here for training so we are trying to negotiate a way by which we can still continue those services together with our local students who are taking undergraduate course."

A Memorandum of Understanding signed between Ms. Gould and the government of Samoa back in 2001, dictated that after 10 years of partnership, both parties would sit down and discuss the changes or the nature of their relationship, going forward.

That 10-year deadline passed last year.

In a letter to the Samoa Observer last year, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said he would be meeting with Ms. Gould at a later date.

"Taffy is requested to visit Samoa in 2013 to talk about OUM with the government," he said.

Miss Gould announced last year that the school would be undergoing their regularly scheduled accreditation visit this year (2013).

OUM is accredited by the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (PAASCU), listed in the World Health Organization's World Directory of Medical Schools, and recognized by the Education Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates.

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