University of Limerick
The_challenges_of_building_a_national_university_in_a_Pacific_Island_Country.pdf (329.4 kB)

The challenges of building a national university in a Pacific Island Country: lessons from the first ten years of Fiji National University

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-03-01, 15:34 authored by Nigel Martin Healey
Establishing a national university has been widely viewed by smaller developing countries as a means of asserting sovereignty and driving the country’s economic, social, and cultural development. This has been particularly true in the South Pacific, despite the existence of the regional University of the South Pacific. Building a national university with the limited financial resources of a small developing country presents numerous challenges. This paper, using a critical ethnographic methodology, examines the lessons from the first ten years (2010–20) of Fiji National University from the perspective of an insider researcher. Some challenges are common to new universities created by merging smaller colleges. Others are more specific to developing countries, including the dependence on public funding and political patronage. Some challenges are more distinctively Pasifika, with cultural values of familial loyalty and respect for elders, sometimes in conflict with ‘imported’ management practices. The spectre of neo-colonialism is ever present.



Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management; 44 (2), pp.166-184


Taylor and Francis


peer-reviewed The full text of this article will not be available in ULIR until the embargo expires on the 15/03/2023


This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article whose final and definitive form, the Version of Record, has been published in Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management 2022 o copyright Taylor & Francis, available online at: