History of the University

The National University of Samoa was established in 1984 by an Act of Parliament. From its small beginnings (only 45 students started the Foundation Programme), the National University of Samoa developed in leaps and bounds.

In 1987 its first Degree – Bachelor of Education a one-off programme was launched. This first BEd degree programme was funded by a USAid project. During this time, the Western Samoa Teachers’ College (which later became the Faculty of Education in 1997) was only awarding Diplomas in Education. A year after the launch of the BEd programme, the Bachelor of Arts programme was taught. The first graduates in both programmes were awarded their degrees in the 1990 graduation ceremony. Shortly thereafter, the existing business- related night classes administered by the Samoa Society of Accountants came under the umbrella of the university, now known as the Faculty of Business and Entrepreneurship. The Faculty of Science was also established. In 1993 the existing School of Nursing of the National Health Department amalgamated with the university as the Faculty of Nursing.

The year 1997 saw the integration of the Western Samoa Teachers’ College with the University as the Faculty of Education. The same year, the University moved from Malifa to its new campus constructed with the grant assistance from the government of Japan – which is currently called Le Papaigalagala. After years of planning, The Centre of Samoan Studies was launched in 1999. Thus the National University of Samoa, situated in its new campus comprised not only the UPY programme, but five fully fledged faculties and the Centre of Samoan Studies. All faculties offered courses towards Bachelor’s degrees in their respective disciplines. The University Preparatory Year programme became the Foundation Year.

On 8 March 2006 the National University of Samoa and the Samoa Polytechnic were merged to form the present institution. This was the culmination of merger plans for tertiary education which were enunciated by the Government of Samoa in 2001. Samoa Polytechnic was established in 1993 by an Act of the Fono as the successor to the Western Samoa Trade School, incorporating the Maritime Training School.

The NUS Act 2006 came into force on 1 June 2006 and on 10 November the Government of Japan officially handed the Government of Samoa the newly completed Institute of Technology campus. The new NUS, through the Institute of Technology, the Institute of Higher Education, the Centre for Samoan Studies and the Oloamanu Centre, provided over sixty academic, vocational and professional programmes including the Master of Samoan Studies. In March 2011 the Council approved the complete integration of the Institute of Technology and Institute of Higher Education.

On 6 February 2014, the NUS Council approved the establishment of the former Oceania University of Medicine – Motootua Campus faculty, staff and students, as the Faculty of Medicine under the National University of Samoa. This was in accordance with a Cabinet directive for the establishment of a Faculty of Medicine under NUS after a lengthy consultative process on a viable option on the future of medical education in Samoa.

To align the university’s health sector programmes and resources, the Council approved the establishment of a Faculty of Health Sciences in 2017, comprising the School of Medicine, formerly known as the Faculty of Medicine and the School of Nursing and Health Science. Also in 2017 was the establishment of the School of Maritime Training as an independent unit at Mulinu’u Campus to serve the maritime training needs of Samoa whilst complying with international standards of maritime. The Campus was built with the
assistance of the People’s Republic of China and is another milestone for the University. Given its coastal location the Campus also houses Marine and Environment Research and serves as a scientific research Centre. Another development was the opening of the Office and Information Centre in Salelologa, Savaii to cater for students residing in Savaii. This has enabled us to hold classes in Savaii, allowing more students accessibility to pursue further studies without having to relocate to Upolu.

In August 2019 the University’s Master of Development Studies programme was granted accreditation for five years by the International Accreditation Council for Global Development Studies and Research (IAC /EADI). The IAC/EADI is a leading European network in the field of development research and training with one of its goals to promote quality in research and education in development studies and the accreditation status indicates the quality of the University’s postgraduate programme. Another development is the approval by Cabinet of the merge of the University’s School of Maritime Training and the Samoa Shipping Maritime Academy. This is to boost our seafarers’ knowledge and make better use of government resources. The Academy focuses on domestic vessels and the merge will allow seafarers access to the University’s programmes which have been endorsed by the International Maritime Organisation and enables them to work abroad.

In March 2020, an initiative between the Governments of Samoa and India, the Centre of Excellence in Information Technology, was opened at the School of Maritime Campus. However, 2020 will always be remembered as the year Covid 19 had a devastating effect on the world and necessitated precautionary measures which changed many aspects of our social, cultural and economic interactions. During the State of Emergency, the University offered most of its courses online to comply with social distancing and to ensure our students had access to their course materials and lecturers from the safety of their homes. When on-campus lectures resumed, having smaller classes, the clean your hands campaign and the installment of additional hand basins were extra safety measures taken.

In 2021 the world continued to experience the effects of Covid 19 and the university in an effort to alleviate the economic hardships experienced by its students and their families introduced measures which would allow them to pursue their studies uninterrupted. We also worked with other government ministries to deliver our programmes funded under economic stimulus packages in order to upgrade and upskill the knowledge base and skills of workers whose employment were affected by the pandemic. Staff and students alike also joined in our country’s efforts to promote vaccination for our general population and to date we continue and will continue to encourage our students and staff to get vaccinated.

In September 2021 the Samoa Qualifications Authority accredited five of the University’s programmes namely the Bachelor of Medicine Bachelor of Surgery, Bachelor of Education (Primary), Graduate Diploma in Education, Postgraduate Diploma in Education and Master of Education. This was followed by the accreditation of the NUS Certificate IV in Foundation Science and Foundation Agriculture, Diploma V in Sustainable Agriculture, Postgraduate Diploma in Science and Master of Science in 2022. The Bachelor of Commerce (Secondary Education) was accredited in 2023. The university now has a total of 39 progammes which are accredited – thirty eight by the Samoa Qualifications Authority and one by the International Accreditation Council for Global Development Studies and Research. NUS will continue to work towards having more of its programmes accredited to ensure its programmes meets and exceeds the set quality and standards expected of a reputable tertiary institution.

There was an Increase in the number of scholarship opportunities in 2023 when The Education Support Fund provided $1.5M worth of scholarships and 60 PSC awards for TVET students. The Yazaki Kizuna Foundation Scholarship offered 56 scholarships for undergraduate students and postgraduate students. The university acknowledges sponsorship from various government agencies including the Public Service Commission, MOF, MOH, MESC, the District Councils as well as the continuous support of private organisations.

Infrastructure projects implemented in 2023 include the new building for the Oloamanu Centre for Professional Development and Continuing Education, the relaunch of the Peace Garden in collaboration with the Samoa Conservation Society, the Upgrade of the main campus Perimeter Fence (along To’omatagi Road), Waste Management Awareness Campaign: Solution is Less Pollution Project, the Savai’i Campus Clearance Project, Road Rehabilitation Project and the Trail Walk Project.

During our second graduation ceremony on Friday 14th July 2023, NUS recognized Micro-Credentials as Formal Qualifications. Among the 203 students who graduated, 71 graduates successfully attained Certificates in Professional Development in micro-credentials delivered by the NUS Oloamanu Centre of Professional Development & Continuing Education under the N.Z Manaaki Scholarship Scheme. This was the first Cohort of Learners to pursue the NUS Micro credential Qualifications.

The year 2024 is the university’s 40th anniversary year. The university will celebrate this important milestone in February 2024 to acknowledge its achievements in terms of programmes, services and opportunities for the development of our youths and a workforce for Samoa and everyone past and present who contributed to achieving the vision and mission of the university since its establishment.
The university will continue to play our role in the development and delivery of quality education which guarantees a robust curriculum that prepares our graduates to contribute to the human resource needs of Samoa.

Professor Tuifuisa’a Patila Malua Amosa
Vice Chancellor & President

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