By Serah Aupong – EMTV News, Port Moresby
The continued university students’ unrest is costing the higher education sector financially, and in international reputation as well.
Higher Education Secretary Prof David Kavanamur gave this update at the second departmental heads meeting today.
However he said the situation is not all bad.
He said the Universtiy of Natural Resource & Environment at Vudal “has been running academic programs for two months now,” while Divine Word University and Pacific Adventist University “are intact.”
At the University of Goroka, Secretary Kavanamur said they have sent their students home for two weeks and aim to sort our their issues within that time. However, students are on their teaching practice.
Speaking about the situation at the University of Technology, Kavanamur said, “full credit” to Vice Chancellor Professor Albert Schram for “holding the place together” despite tensions being high. He hopes that with classes slowly resuming today, “everyone should be in class by next week.”
Their main concern now is the University of Papua New Guinea, main campus where the main faculties are located. However he said, the School of Medicine at the Taurama campus is “running full swing” along with the open collegues and the post graduate programs.
Kavanamur told the meeting that, for medical students, the unrest has meant those scheduled to graduate in 2017, will now be graduating in 2019 instead.
Another unfortunate consequence of the unrest is damage done on plans to attract more international students to the country, which Kavanamur describes as a “major reputational risk” that needs to be addressed.
Apart from international reputation the unrest is also placing a financial drain on the higher education sector.
“Possibly K15 to K20 million already, that’s money that we could be spending on prioritised areas.”
He indicated that academically, drastic decisions might be made soon.
“We are coming to the end of that period whereby the academic senate will meet to decide on the tenability of the academic program.”