by Edwin Fidelis – EM TV News, Kokopo
The start of the second semester at the PNG University of and Environment has begun with another boycott of classes over student issues with tuition fees, that first arose more than a month ago.
The sit-in strike follows a change in tuition fees where students will pay more than what is expected by the Office of Higher Education.
The boycott has now dragged into its second day.
“We are confused…why did the administration make a sudden change without letting us know in advance,” SRC President, Jeremiah Sokaim said.
The general sentiment that fuelled the boycott was a 20 per cent increase to the payment of tuition fees to the university.
This means, if a student is under a academic excellence scholarship, he or she is entitled to pay only 40 per cent of their university fees, while the 20 per cent from the government’s TFF fund should be reimbursed to students and their parents.
But that hasn’t been the case.
The 20 per cent has been forfeited by the administration and put towards financing the operation of the institution instead of reimbursing students.
“We want the department of higher education to explain to the students and staff whether the changes in the university fees are correct or not,” the SRC president said.
It’s understood the administration snubbed an off-campus meeting, and approved the new fee structure, without consulting the office of higher education and relevant stakeholders.
After the issue was brought to light, angry students mobilised, boycotted classes yesterday and demanded an explanation from the university’s bursar.
It’s understood numerous letters of enquiry submitted by student leaders to the administration were ignored.
“What we are doing now will continue. The boycott will continue until we get a favourable response from the OHE and the university’s administration,” Sokaim said.
In a previous boycott four months ago; students have also protested against the administration of the university’s operation.
Attempts to get a response from the university’s administration were unsuccessful.
Students are appealing to the office of higher education, research science and technology to investigate the alleged mismanagement within the university’s administration.