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Thursday, 23 October 2014

Throwing away the baby of higher education reform with the bathwater of political interference

Executive Summary

As expressed earlier now over 3 months ago during the Ministerial visit to our UNITECH campus, in our view the Minister of Higher Education should repeal and amend Art. 109 of the proposed new Higher Education Act, which calls for direct or indirect appointments by the National Executive Council (= the Government of PNG) of University Council members and executives. Our University community is now greatly concerned about this issue, and is waiting for an answer.

The large majority of PNG Vice-Chancellors and Chancellors strongly belief that implementing Art. 109 will lead to further politisation of the University Councils, and possibly the eventual collapse of PNG's fragile higher education system.

Article 109 is fundamentally flawed, futile, and unnecessary since the government has enough powers in Council through government appointed members and MPs, through the Public Finance Management Act, and through the Emergency Act. It can intervene in University Councils in cases of emergency, when this is necessary.

Implementing article Art. 109 would have catastrophic long-term effects on the university system by increasing politisation of university governance. The inherent instability of the  political process would be imported into the University. Not a single university in New Zealand, Australia has directly appointed Chancellors, Pro-Chancellors or Vice Chancellors. Anyone suggesting as much in a University Council would be booted out immediately.

Of 34 European countries only 2 countries with world class university systems have this provision (The Netherlands, Sweden), but these are cases of stable consensus democracies with exceptional social harmony.

Finally, the use of "consequential amendments" of the Higher Education Acts to the individual University Acts will be challenged in court. In addition, a case can be made that the Higher Education Act possibly violates constitutional rights. As Martin Luther King said "One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws" when they violate fundamental principles. Finally, the lack of meaningful consultation with the universities, and the surreptitious ways in was introduced in Parliament, arguably violate due process and natural justice. Regrettably, similar court actions would likely preclude any further reform of the governance system of PNG universities.

It is therefore wise if the Minister of Higher Education repeal and amend Art. 109 and bring this before Parliament as soon as possible. By stating this we are not rebelling, but working with the government, and saving it from making yet another grave mistake.

We are speaking up about this issue, not because we want to annoy anyone or cause trouble, but because as Vice-Chancellors we are duty bound to uphold the provisions of our University Act. In all University Acts in PNG (except DWU) the principles of Council autonomy and academic freedom are firmly established and deeply enshrined. We have no choice therefore but to behave in accordance with the principles of our current University Act.

POSTSCRIPT: The Higher Education Act was published in the National Gacette in December 2014, but without the governance manual and regulations, to which it refers. Implementation therefore remains problematic.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

VC's Message upon Taking Annual Leave

Here is the video on YouTube

Dear UNITECH Students and Staff,

Coming Wednesday my wife Paulina and I will take our annual leave. Due to the UNITECH Saga we were unable to go home for over 1 year and we need to see our aging parents and family members.

We are happy of what our management team has accomplished during its first 100 days. We asked you now to work with Deputy Vice-Chancellor Dr. Ora Renagi, who will be acting Vice-Chancellor in my absence.

We are all working hard to create an environment for our students where they can develop themselves, and enjoy a great learning experience.

I wish to share 3 important messages for our students: never forget to respect your body, your mind and your identity.

Peril And Promise: A Decade on

Original: Peril And Promise: A Decade on
July 13, 2014 - 7:07pm
By Jamil Salmi

(See my comment at the end. AS)

"The sea is dangerous and its storms terrible, but these obstacles have never been sufficient reason to remain ashore." Ferdinand Magellan (1520)

For several decades, traditional human capital analysis challenged the need for public support of higher education on the grounds that graduates captured important private benefits—notably higher salaries and lower unemployment—that should not be subsidized by taxpayers. Many multilateral and bilateral donor agencies, influenced by this argument, focused their support on basic education rather than investing in the expansion and improvement of higher education systems in developing countries.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Minister Tabar Visit, 23 August 2014

Speech for the visit of Minister of Higher Education, Research Science and Technology, the Hon. Malakai Tabar.

Papua New Guinea University of Technology, Taraka Campus, 23 August 2014

Hon. Malakai Tabar, Minister HERST addressing UNITECH community

Dear Students, Minister, Honoured Guests, Chancellor, Councillors, UNITECH Faculty and Staff, Ladies and Gentlemen:

Today, is a happy day. We have our Minister of Higher Education, Research Science and Technology, the Hon. Malakai Tabar on our campus, and this time there is not even a boycott or a strike.

We are impressed and grateful that the first University our Minister is visiting is UNITECH.

We are happy because today we are showing to the world that finally UNITECH has become a true and normal university, a community of learning, where peace, respect and tolerance prevail.

I am determined that under my leadership peace will continue to reign, and we will all work hard to re-establish the reputation of this University as the leading University of Technology in PNG and the South Pacific.

When we do this, the State will support us more strongly, and our international partners will come back to work with us, and send us their students. This year, for example, we are already receiving foreign postgraduate students from the Caribbean through the Erasmus Mundus program of the European Commission: 2 this year, 9 next year, and hopefully 16 in two years time.

Today, you may have seen several Faculty and staff wearing t-shirts saying, "I Make UNITECH Fly". DVC Dr. Renagi and myself gave you one such t-shirt last Monday. But what does this slogan mean?

It started on 8 June 2011, when as a candidate for the Vice-Chancellor's position I  promised transformational leadership, and turning UNITECH in a entrepreneurial, innovative and student-centred University. When I was hired, that was my vision and that is what I came to do.

The slogan was launched on 7 Feb. 2012, on the day of my hand-over/take over. The former Chancellor was lecturing the incoming students about how UNITECH was a big, leaky ship and he was working hard not to make it sink. I found this a depressing metaphor, and decided to use another one. I said that if we came together we could make UNITECH fly. The SRC president in 2012, Joe Kaowai, immediately took over this motto, and the rest is our proud history.

The campaign "I Make UNITECH Fly" is centred around our 5 core values. Abbreivated they read AIPE - II - PP:

1- Accountability & Integrity. Accountability means that we tell our colleagues what we really do. We do not believe in telling them stories and excuses. Every day we hold each other accountable for results. Accountability means also that we do, what we say we are doing.

Integrity means that we do, what we say. As Ghandi said "Happiness is when what we think, what we feel, and what we say are the same". I might add "and what we do". Only in this manner we can be happy in our personal, professional, and civil life.

2- Professionalism. We try to be efficient and effective as members of a rule based organisation. We believe we can achieve our goals through: hardwork, team work and network.

The motto is "I make UNITECH Fly". It is not the VC, or the DVC, or anybody else. Everybody's contribution is required and it starts with yourself.

3- Excellence. We strive every day to be better than the day before. We do not tolerate complacency and mediocrity.

We know we can be a good university, and when we strive for excellence every day, we will get there.

4- Innovation & Initiative. We are a University of science and technology, which stimulates the critical application of scientific and technological knowledge for PNG and the South Pacific. That is our specific mission.

We can only achieve our vision, by focusing relentlessly on our mission. This requires a capacity to deal with the changing environment around us, it requires innovation. We can not be passive spectators, it requires initiative.

5-Pride & Passion. There is no place for indifference at UNITECH. We take pride in what we do, and we are passionate about achieving our results. We have developed a "UNITECH way" of solving our differences, and we take pride in belonging to a great learning community.

Minister, we can't fly before we can walk. We need some basic resources here, and I will be frank with you today. I know you will listen and take it well.

We understand you are part of a government, which has set broad targets for the country and the higher education sector. We also understand that PNG has a dismally low GER for higher education, and as educators we want to be part of the solution.

We recommend you go back to your colleagues in government next week, and impress upon them that at this point in time we can not achieve a 20% growth in student intake in the coming years, as outlined in Vision 2050. You have seen our campus now, where do you want us to put an extra 600 students next year? 

Our mess is too small, even for the current student population. Our laboratories are too small. Our library is too small and in dire need of books and repair. We have no reliable, campus wide broadband internet.

While we try to scale-up and increase the quantity of our intake, we must continue to work on the quality agenda for higher education. In June 2012, the government approved the implementation plan of the Independent Review of the PNG University System, the Namaliu/Garnaut report. The two key recommendations are:
  1. to improve university governance and reduce the Council to a size of max. 13.
  2. to improve the quality of education before increasing the quantity of the intake.
We have worked hard at UNITECH to implement these two recommendations. First, our new Council is committed to reform itself, while at the same time giving strategic direction to the transformation of the University. We have re-established legitimate governance at UNITECH, and made significant progress under the leadership of our Chancellor Sir Nagora Bogan.

Secondly, according to the Namaliu/Garnaut report, if we excessively increase the quantity of intake now, we risk the collapse of our University. The coming 3 years, therefore will see only moderate growth, while we prepare for higher growth in student intake afterwards.

We have therefore focused on improving our quality of education, by hiring more academics with a PhD. We are currently revising our curriculum and make it competence based in line with the requirements of international accreditation, such as the Washington Accords. We built 23 new staff houses which allow us to attract foreign professors.

We developed our postgraduate program, now the largest in the country (with 122 enrolled, and 32 graduates this year). Our PG program is driving research and development at our University, and the improvement of our teaching. We made all those investment, from our own resources, receiving very little help from outside.

We also understand that the government can not cover all our expenses and plans. You should impress on your colleagues in cabinet, however, that there is no state in the world, however, that refuses to cover the basic expenses of a University such as salaries, taxes, utilities, and basic operational expenses. There is simply no one else who will pay for this. The State can not continue to cover less than 70% of our primary expenses.

The goal of generating 40% of our budget from our own resources is at the moment not feasible. We made some first steps in restructuring our university companies, which have been showing increasing losses over the last years. We are turning around those units which have been showing deficits. The next step, is for us to learn how to use our assets and intellectual property to generate some resources.

We are a University of Science and Technology and that does not come cheap. More than half of our 13 department require extensive laboratory facilities and sophisticated infrastructure. We require specialised technical staff, consumable for the laboratories, reliable water and power supplies, university wide broadband internet, advanced instruments and computing facilities, etc.

We will pay for the many un-budgeted expenses such as our maintenance of academic buildings and staff houses, security measures, and a host of other expenses. We are already doing this. Through our successful partnership with New Horizons (formerly Datec) Learning Centres, for example, we were able to save 10 staff houses in urgent need of repair, and extend Wifi to all academic buildings, the female dorms and one housing area.

This week, Council approved the rolling out of the laptop project for the first year students next year. The students will pay half the price of the laptop, and we will finance the other half from our own resources. We want to do this because we want to work towards an excellent learning experience for our students, and without internet or computers nowadays that is not possible.

We gave you 5 briefs today on themes we want to work with you. Our Management team is asking you:

1- to repeal Article 109 of the Higher Education Act, which calls for the approval of the appointment of the Chancellor and the Vice-Chancellor by the NEC. 

I speak here as Vice-Chancellor whose main responsibility according to article 29b of our University of Technology Act is to uphold the provision of the University Act, in which the autonomy of Council and dual academic and corporate governance are firmly enshrined as guiding principles.

I speak on this occasion, since our esteemed guest, Minister Tabar is in a position to take a similar measure leading to the repeal of Art. 109.

If government has to approve key decisions, what is the point of having an autonomous University Council? In our view, this merely increases the risk of political interference in our autonomous institution, where academic freedom and dual governance through Council and Academic Board must prevail.

Other oddities in the new Higher Education Act are that no such extensive powers of intervention for the Minister are given in the case of private Universities. Finally, it seems the board of higher education keeps complete control over the tertiary education assistance scheme, without the need to consult with or use information from the Universities.

We are not concerned because we are afraid our Minister will abuse these new powers granted to him. We can not forget, however that not so long ago we had someone in his position, who was publicly and openly captured by particular and narrow minded interests, unnecessarily took sides, blocked for over 1 year the solution of the UNITECH Council and Vice-Chancellor crises, and the publication of the Sevua Investigation. We must learn from our recent past.

Our concerns today are not only based on these principles, but also on the likely impact article 109 is going to have for the management of the University. Since Art. 109 effectively ends institutional autonomy and academic freedom, UNITECH will be expelled from the Association of Common Wealth Universities. This in turn will have direct effects on our ability to hire internationally mobile Faculty members.

As member of this Association we subscribe to certain criteria for promotion and renewal of contracts, which implies that times served at UNITECH will count towards an individuals academic career all over the world.

Conversely, we are happy with the Council reduction to 13 in the new Higher Education Act, and the creation of the Department of Higher Education, but we must insist Article 109 be repealed in its entirety, for the reasons mentioned above.

Moreover, article 109 is unnecessary since the Emergency Act and the Financial Management Act give the Minister more than enough powers to intervene if Council and management were not to act as good custodians of the assets of the State of Papua New Guinea.

2- We request 10 PhD scholarships for our University, costing only about K1M each year. This is a minor investment in the education of Papua New Guineans, which will have a tremendous effect on the academic quality. We were promised PG scholarships for 2014, then 2015, and now they are pushed back to 2016, if ever.

Through a series of initiatives, we are creating a much broader pipeline for Papua New Guineans to get their Masters and doctorate degrees abroad. Yesterday, for example we sent our first student to Sardar Patel University in India to do her Masters and possibly her PhD in food science. We need our own PG scholarships, however, to have a real impact in our organisation.

3- We request the transfer or use of the Telikom College in order to increase our capacity to deliver and develop new programs. The new CEO of Telikom is open to negotiation, so we ask you to facilitate this process. We can not develop our Master plan for the campus, and our 10 year investment plan, as long as uncertainty over the use of the Telikom college by UNITECH continues to exist.

We are working on a Master Plan which will be presented to Council next year, and be subject of broad consultation with all UNITECH stakeholders. We can not finalize the Masterplan unless we have a decision on Telikom College.

4- We ask you to follow up with the Chief Secretary and provide us with mobile student houses and class rooms we requested, which were decommissioned from the LNG project.

Our international and corporate student villages are in dire need of repair, and need upgrading. At the moment, we are not being good hosts for our international and corporate students, who deserve at least the same standard as the rest of the students.

5- Last but most importantly, we want you to commission a serious benchmark study as a basis for a Salary Review which must lead to higher take-home pay for all categories of staff and Faculty.

For many years, staff has been patient, postponing their demands. This can not last however. Staff can only be productive if they need not worry about finding additional sources of income.

For many years now, we keep having a 100 academic vacancies on an establishment of 253, that is almost 40% of positions are vacant. As a consequence, all our Faculty is experience high work loads because of the need to teach. We must offer decent packages, otherwise we can not attract or retain Faculty and staff.

We are grateful for the K50M we received last year for the accreditation of the 4 engineering departments and 3 support departments. All our department are working hard revising their curriculum and rehabilitating their laboratories and teaching resources. We also hope the K100M for our university hall, library rehabilitation and student mess can be disbursed this year.

We need a new Agriculture Building, which had already been approved. Ironically, the only department that has made the transition to an almost 80% faculty members with a PhD is housed in one of our worst buildings. The current building is designed half the students we have now, and is at the end of its life. You will understand however that in order to carry out higher education policies of this government, we need all the help we can get.

We must now follow through with comprehensive Salary Review, based on a solid benchmark study, and resulting in higher take-home pay for all categories of staff and Faculty.

To round up, the UNITECH story is a story of transformation, determination and hope. Our Chancellor Sir Nagora Bogan, the SRC President Eddie Nagual and his team, and many individual staff members have fought hard and long to establish legitimate governance and effective management. They are the true hero's of the UNITECH story, and we must not forget what they fought for.

The UNITECH story is a strong story, attracting a lot of interest here and abroad. Yesterday, on our open day we had 3 times more visitors than the previous years. Principals, and guidance officers from all over the country came to visit us. We had 6 Lae based secondary schools send their pupils to us. Today, we have our Career fair, for the very first time, and attracted many companies who spoke with our students and staff.

During your hand-over/take-over last Monday, DVC Dr. Renagi and myself understood you care deeply about the higher education sector in this country. We ask you now to go back to your colleagues in government, and act as our ambassador and friend. We hope you will hear us, and the government will help us. After several dark decades, we believe we deserve a better future.

In my personal view, UNITECH is the greatest University in the world. Uniquely, after the crisis Council, management, Faculty, Staff and students all have come together in a determination to create a better future for ourselves. Our partners from private sector are jealous. They say that with Council, management and the wider UNITECH community united after our long and protracted crises, we have something no money can buy. It is therefore a do or die moment.

We have learned to solve our difference in a constructive, positive and productive way, the UNITECH way. We know you are our friend, and you will put some fuel in the plane, so as to Make Unitech Fly.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Kick-Off “I make UNITECH Fly” Campaign

Kick-Off “I make UNITECH Fly” Campaign
Monday 28 July, 12 pm – 1 pm, Duncanson Hall, UNITECH
(Check against delivery)


Today, we roll out the campaign “I make UNITECH Fly” which is intended to restore a sense of direction, and motivation in all staff. It is the beginning of the new beginning.

Heads of Departments with Vision, Mission, Values statement

We invited all Faculty, who at the end of our speeches will receive one T-shirt per employee. The Heads of Department will get a framed version of our values, vision and mission statements to hang in their departments. Next week, we will invite all support staff. Regrettably, we can not offer you lunch, but we trust you can find a sandwich or some fruit.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

How to make UNITECH fly?

(Speech for the Opening of the "Strategy into Action" for the Senior Executive Management Team of the Papua New Guinea University of Technology, in Madang from 19-21 July 2014.)


UNITECH has a published strategy called Vision 2030, but it has no action plan. Apparently, the previous management did not have the know-how on how to implement a strategy. As a candidate I promised on 8 June 2011, I would do this, and provide transformational leadership necessary to turn UNITECH into an innovative, student-centred and entrepreneurial university. I have thought long and hard about this. This year, for example, I wrote a paper on strategic management for universities, which won best-paper award.

I am therefore happy and excited today, when we start this workshop called "Strategy into Action" for the Senior Executive Management Team of the Papua New Guinea University of Technology. We will be here in Madang for a 3 days intensive workshop from 19-21 July 2014. As a result of this workshop, we will have a multi-year action plan together, based on a sound strategy. We will publish a summary for everybody to see.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Opening of the "Strategy into Action", 19 July 2013

Opening of the "Strategy into Action" for the Senior Executive Management Team of the Papua New Guinea University of Technology, in Madang from 19-21 July 2014.


This workshop is facilitated by Ralph Vossenberg MBA from "Greef, Vossenberg and partners". Ralph has a Masters in Mechanical Engineering from Delft University of Technology, and an MBA. He has over a decade experience working in various executive roles in multi-national companies (e.g. Unilever), and more than 10 years experience as an executive trainer and coach.

Ralph Vossenberg in action
This workshop is called "Strategy into Action" for the Senior Executive Management Team of the Papua New Guinea University of Technology. We will be here in Madang for a 3 days intensive workshop from 19-21 July 2014. As a result of this workshop, we will have a multi-year action plan together, based on a sound strategy. We are also here to learn to work as a team, and continue to train our skills. You will need to discard some of your cherished beliefs, and get out of your comfort zone. We are not on campus, so we can not be interrupted, and more importantly we take a physical distance necessary for some deep reflection.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Principle Based Leadership and Young Adults in PNG: an optimistic assessment

Principle-Based Leadership and Young Adults in PNG: an optimistic assessment

A short version of the text below was delivered as a dinner speech at the Divine Word University's Student Representative Council fundraising dinner (Madang Resort, 11 July 2014).
With SRC president

With Hon. Don Polye MP

Saturday, 28 June 2014

UNITECH SRC Nominated for UNESCO Prize for Non-Violence and Tolerance.

(We hope to hear soon whether the SRC has won this prize. Meanwhile, the world is taking notice that our UNITECH students are contributing to civil society in a peaceful manner in PNG. AS)

Dear Dr. Ora Renagi,

Herewith we wish to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 13 June 2014 by which you transmitted to us your nomination of the Unitech Students Representative Council for the 2014 UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence, which has been endorsed by the Secretary General of the Papua New Guinea National Commission for UNESCO. We would also like to acknowledge receipt of two letters of support as well as additional documents attached.

The Unitech Students Representative Council has been included in the list of candidates that will be duly transmitted to the international jury for consideration. The jury will formulate recommendations, on the basis of which UNESCO’s Director-General will take the final decision concerning the laureate(s) of the 2014 UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize.

We greatly appreciate your valuable contribution to the Prize and thank you sincerely for your support of this project.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

With warmest wishes,

Secretariat of the UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the
Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence

UNITECH UPDATE 1 (29 June 2014)

At the appreciation ceremony organised by the SRC on 9 May we presented our new management team to the community, consisting of Dr. Ora Renagi DVC, Dr. Augustine Moshi (PVC Academic), Dr. Kaul Gena (PVC Administration, and myself as Vice-Chancellor. This is an update for all about on what we have been doing in the 7 weeks since.

Dr. Kaul Gena (PVC Administration) Dr. Ora Renagi (DVC) and Dr. Augustine Moshi (PVC Academic)

In the administrative field, we found many neglected issues to deal with. We are streamlining procurement procedures and maintenance contracts, and expect to achieve considerable savings. We have capability now to import materials ourselves and in the coming months we expect to procure consumables and also expect some containers with donations from Australia.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Headlines on 3 April 2014: 15 minutes of fame

Albert Schram begins to tackle grievances at Unitech - Keith Jackson & Friends: PNG ATTITUDE 29 April 2014

Original Albert Schram begins to tackle grievances at Unitech - Keith Jackson & Friends: PNG ATTITUDE
29 April 2014


THE newly re-installed vice chancellor of Papua New Guinea's University of Technology, Dr Albert Schram, says he's taking immediate measures to resolve long standing grievances.

A speech about real heroes & the value of higher education - Keith Jackson & Friends: PNG ATTITUDE

Original: A speech about real heroes & the value of higher education - Keith Jackson & Friends: PNG ATTITUDE
18 May 2014


Vice-Chancellor's Speech at the 46th Graduation, 16 May 2014, Taraka Campus, PNG University of Technology

A FEW weeks ago I received a hero's welcome when I returned to Papua New Guinea after a forced absence of more than a year.

Schram Returns (Post-Courier, 3 April 2014)

Original: Schram Returns
April 03,2014, 11:09 pm


MORE than 50 vehicles packed with cheering University of Technology staff and students gave Dr Albert Schram a hero’s welcome when he disembarked from an Air Niugini aircraft at Nadzab airport yesterday afternoon.

Dr Schram arrives in Lae (Post-Courier 3 April 2014)

Original: Dr. Schram Arrives in Lae
April 03, 2014, 02:44 pm

Dr Schram – the man who has been the main reason for University of Technology students sit in protest has arrived in Lae today. A total of 100 vehicles as thousands of Unitech students turned up at the Nadzab airport to welcome the man who they regarded as their ‘father’. 

Friday, 16 May 2014

UNITECH Vice-Chancellor's Speech for the 46th Graduation, 16 May 2014, Taraka Campus (full speech)

Today we proudly presented to our Chancellor 936 UNITECH graduands, of which 29% or 266 are women. All departments confidently proposed the list of graduands to the Academic Board, who after careful revision approved each and every one of them. Yesterday, UNITECH Council gave its final seal of approval.

32 postgraduate students graduated today, having thus established the largest postgraduate program in the country with currently 112 students enrolled of which 52 in distance mode. We are particularly proud today to present a PhD degree in Agriculture to Mr. Merawe Degemba, and the first graduand in the Applied Physics program, Mrs. Osora Helen Herivi. We also welcome the first batch of MBA graduates: Sarah Todd and Nohorahnie Bogan.

Monday, 14 April 2014


Original: Papua New Guinea Blogs: WHY THE 2014 UNITECH BOYCOTT SUCCEEDED

By Former PNG Journalist

As the Unitech saga fades into time, it leaves positive thoughts in the minds of thousands. Most of us will not forget the dedicated young people who bravely stood up and spoke out against corruption. The government repeatedly threatened the students hoping to frighten them into submission. Through the government's two mouthpieces, The National and Post Courier, we read the many smug editorials that belittled the students as foolish and irresponsible, then telling them to behave themselves and go back to class.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Unitech Resume Classes - YouTube

Original Unitech Resume Classes - YouTube

Opening the Administration Building

Schram is Back - YouTube

Original Schram is Back - YouTube

Setback for Unitech meeting plans | PNG Edge

Original: Setback for Unitech meeting plans | PNG online news | PNG real time news | PNG Edge
Melanie Vari on Thu, 04/10/2014 - 17:04

An advertised “urgent meeting of the Unitech council’’ arranged by Ralph Saulep at the Hideaway Hotel in Port Moresby yesterday was postponed at the last minute.

It was scheduled for 2pm today.

But PNG Edge was told by hotel reception to enquire at their sales office located on the first floor about the status of the meeting and was told that it had been postponed to next week due to a pending court hearing.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Unitech back to school after boycott (PNG Edge)

Original by Sally Pokiton on Mon, 04/07/2014 - 06:07

From left to right: Eddie Nagual (SRC President), Paulina Schram (VC's Wife), Dr. Albert Schram (Vice-Chancellor) and Prof. Atkins (Chair of the Welcoming Committee)

Formal classes for week five will start at Unitech today in what is supposed to be the ninth week of the academic year.

This will see students engaging in make-up classes and if possible nine classes for some while the mid semester break and semester break will not be observed.

Last Friday saw the university return to normal life after four weeks of boycott resulting in the annual graduation normally held in March being deferred.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Papua New Guinea University of Technology’s exiled VC fights to return (Times Higher Education 27 March 2014)

March 27, 2014

(Times Higher Education is arguably the world's leading magazine on higher education with a readership of hundreds of thousands globally. Its twitter account has 108.000 followers and Facebook page over 7.000 followers. It also published the World University Rankings, and organised the World Academic Summit.

The most amazing UNITECH story is how the Chancellor, staff organisations and students all united fought for the VC's return. This article brings home some of the realities of higher education in Papua New Guinea, of which audiences in Europe or USA are largely ignorant.

In December, when the interview was done, we were at the deepest point in the crisis, so now good news will follow, and good things will come from this type of mainstream media exposure. AS)

Students protest in support of Dutch-born university head Albert Schram, expelled by the government in 2013 Source: Ronnie Noan

Flying the flag for Schram: Unitech students march in protest to get their vice-chancellor reinstated after his sudden, unexplained deportation in February 2013

Albert Schram is a university leader in exile. He is the vice-chancellor of Papua New Guinea University of Technology (Unitech), but in February 2013 he was deported and has been forced to live in Australia ever since.

Schram has even been declared a “threat to national security” by the country’s former higher education minister.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Schram wants proper employment visa | PNG online news | PNG real time news | PNG Edge

Original: Schram wants proper employment visa | PNG online news | PNG real time news | PNG Edge
Sally Pokiton on Wed, 03/26/2014 - 16:21

The man in the middle of the whole Unitech saga says he wants a proper employment visa and not a business visa that prohibits employment.

The business visa to be issued to Dr Albert Schram means he will be in the country for a period of time and that type of visa will not allow him to carry out his duties as the vice chancellor of the university.

“I am insisting on a proper employment visa,” Schram told PNG Edge today.

UPNG students plan protest march against K3 billion loan - Education News PNG

Original: UPNG students plan protest march against K3 billion loan - Education News PNG
By Bernard Sinai on March 26, 2014

Image via PNG Edge

Students at country’s premier university, University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG), are planning a protest march next week against the government’s move to acquire a K3 billion loan, PNG Edge reports.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Of Manus and megaphones (or how I learned to stop worrying and love a bit of M.A.D) | Devpolicy Blog from the Development Policy Centre

Original: Of Manus and megaphones (or how I learned to stop worrying and love a bit of M.A.D) | Devpolicy Blog from the Development Policy Centre
By Karl Claxton on March 24, 2014

Stephen Howes makes a strong case in Friday’s Australian that ‘there’s a price to pay (paywalled) for our indebtedness to Papua New Guinea’ for helping out with our Asylum-seeker obsession: he worries Canberra’s gratitude and anxiety hobbles our leverage in the relationship.

From Papua New Guinea Blogs: PNGBlogs Exclusive “The Sevua Report”

(So now it is finally out, what everybody familiar with UNITECH in Lae has known far at least 15 years. AS)

Original Papua New Guinea Blogs: PNGBlogs Exclusive “The Sevua Report”
Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Only Unitech’s students have the power to force a Commission of Inquiry into the Coverup of the Sevua Report and Banning of Dr Albert Schram.

Click here to view the recommendations of the Sevua Report.

The 2013 boycott by Unitech students should have alerted the O’Neill government that time was of the essence in resolving the impasse at Unitech and preventing further disruption. Judge Mark Sevua submitted the completed report to government in May. After a delay of about a month, Acting HERST Minister Don Polye submitted the Sevua report to NEC for endorsement. Further delay of two months passé before the NEC finally got around to endorsing the report. A further 6 months passed by without any signs from OHE of progress in implementing the report, nor of taking legal action to make it possible to implement the report. A recent letter from OHE described in a pngblogs article by another author indicated that an OHE committee itself recommended specific steps to get the ball rolling. These steps were then ignored, both by the OHE Director General as well as by HERST Minister Arore.

PM Speaks On National Issues - EM TV

Original: PM Speaks On National Issues - EM TV
on Monday, 24 March 2014. Posted in News

In the past month or two, there have been a wide range of national issues that have challenged the determination of the O’Neill-Dion government.

Changes in ministerial portfolio heads, the boycott and standoff by students at the University of Technology, and the PNG Power saga, have all taken up the public’s time, and tested the government.

Monday, 24 March 2014

NUS calls on Govt to publish Sevua report | PNG online news | PNG real time news | PNG Edge

Original: NUS calls on Govt to publish Sevua report | PNG Edge
Sally Pokiton on Mon, 03/24/2014 - 18:26

The National Students Union has stood behind the University of Technology students by calling on the government to publish findings of the Sevua Report.

NUS interim president and UPNG Student Representative Council president Bobby Yupi says they will support Unitech’s cause and ask for the report to be made public.

“That is the simplest thing they can do and I don’t know why the government is holding onto that report and putting the future of a lot of our students at stake,” he says.

Breakthrough on Schram uni crisis | PNG online news | PNG real time news | PNG Edge

Original: Breakthrough on Schram uni crisis | PNG online news | PNG real time news | PNG Edge
Frankiy Kapin on Sat, 03/22/2014 - 12:54

The first step to solving the ongoing Unitech boycott has been reached with the platform for a two party dialogue established yet the students unanimously maintain, No Schram, No School.

There’s a price to pay for our indebtedness to PNG | The Australian

(Comment: see the section on the PNG universities. The Namaliu/Garnaut University reform proposals are official government policy, and stipulate a University Council of no more than 13 Members. The current UNITECH Council has 32 members according to the Act. AS)

Hon. Tony Abbott, MP, Prime Minister of Australia visiting PNG

Original: There’s a price to pay for our indebtedness to PNG | The Australian

WHEN Tony Abbott is in Papua New Guinea, we can expect a lot of talk in public about growing business relations between PNG and Australia, and to hear the old refrain of moving the relationship between the two countries from being focused on aid to being focused on trade and investment.

Schram can return to PNG but not Unitech | PNG online news | PNG real time news | PNG Edge

(COMMENT: I am supposed to camp outside the UNITECH gate? I live on campus, why am I banned from going home? Where is this signed and sealed court order banning me from entering campus? Nobody seems to have seen it.

There is only a falsified court order circulated in Dec. 2012 by the former Pro-Chancellor Ralph Saulep, but he has never been able to produce a signed and sealed one.

Everybody conveniently seem to forget that there is a Supreme Court Appeal SCM4/2012 which bans UNITECH Council (old, interim or new) from changing my employment status. I have never been legally dismissed. All legal procedures in the National Courts need to be interpreted in the light of this Supreme Court appeal. National Judges should not rule, until the supreme court has produced its verdict.

There is no vacancy for VC at UNITECH therefore, and both my contracts  with the old and interim Council run until 31 December 2015. A possible new Council will have to abide by these obligations, according to PNG Labour Law. AS)

Schram can return to PNG but not Unitech | PNG online news | PNG real time news | PNG Edge
Frankiy Kapin on Sat, 03/22/2014 - 17:49

There is nothing stopping Dr Albert Schram from returning to PNG, but not to Unitech as it will violate an existing court order and defy the laws of PNG.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Lae's Met Sup Lakatani On Unitech Boycott - EM TV (20 March 2014)

Original: Lakatani On Unitech Boycott - EM TV
on Thursday, 20 March 2014. Posted in News

Lae’s Metropolitan Superintendent , Iven Lakatani, said in Lae earlier this week, police won’t interfere with Unitech’s boycott, until they are given the OK by the University’s administration.

Letter Council Decision on Dr. Albert Schram's employment 13 January 2014

In the interest of full disclosure and upon request, here is the letter from Council to my person dated 13 January 2014, but with a condition for my return before 1 April 2014, I guess to satisfy DG OHE Prof. David Kavanamur, who as we know has different plans. He is not on Council but received a copy out of courtesy.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Unitech students not backing down | PNG online news | PNG real time news | PNG Edge

Original Unitech students not backing down | PNG online news | PNG real time news | PNG Edge
Julianna Waeda on Wed, 03/19/2014 - 16:56

The protesting students at the University of Technology Lae are standing strong in their decision to carry on their protests despite the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill threatening to shut down their school.

Vocal student president Eddie Nagual says he has met with legal representation today and will advise the student body.

Awareness support mounting for Unitech (19 March 2014) from National News | PNG online news | PNG real time news | PNG Edge

Original National News | PNG online news | PNG real time news | PNG Edge

Awareness support mounting for Unitech

Student representatives from the University of Technology armed with the theme, “Fight corruption head on and its starts with Unitech,” today briefed the students of their awareness progress throughout the country.

In a forum held at the main campus in Lae, the students were told the support from intended and targeted individuals and groups was positive.

Especially student representatives visiting the highland provinces claimed all parties involved have positively responded to the approach.

The forum was told most high and secondary schools were reached and local MPs had pledged support for the cause.

In his speech, Unitech SRC president Eddie Nagual says, “the fight taken is for now and the future. A fight to uproot corruption starting at Unitech. The administration remains closed and no negotiations unless a possible change.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

SRC Information Booklet about UNITECH saga

The SRC has published this booklet. Who said the students don't know what the UNITECH saga is all about?

Here you can download it.

PNG student movement song

A former UNITECH student, now in Canada, made this sad song about corruption and the lack of development - improvement in health and education - in PNG since independence in 1975 (39 years ago)

How cool is that?

Monday, 17 March 2014

Final Word on my Doctorate

(Lately, again in the media in Papua New Guinea questions have been raised about my academic credentials. I hope that is the end of it now. In any case, anyone interested could have asked the dear professor, and received a similar email.

The European Institute was set up in 1976 in Fiesole, near Florence in Italy as an elite social science research institute of the European Commission. It is widely recognized as a top research institute in world wide.  It counts about 1.000 researchers in 4 departments, all at PhD level.

By statute, it is an inter-governmental organisation and is therefore not in most university rankings. It has exchange agreements with many top universities such as LSE, Harvard etc., which is how I spent 3 months at the LSE and Prof. Williamson was sitting on my Thesis Committee.


Original: Email
Harvard logo, VERITAS = TRUTH in Latin

Jeffrey Williamson <>
17 March 2014 21:51

Cc: Albert Schram <>

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister, Hon. Peter O'Neill

Papua New Guinea Chief Secretary, Sir Manasupe Zurenuoc

Dear Honored Gentlemen:

I understand that the educational credentials of Vice Chancellor at Papua New Guinea Institute of Technology Doctor Albert Schram are being challenged by political elements in your country.

I can assure you that Dr. Schram received his doctorate from the European University Institute in November 1994. I know because I was there as one of the examiners.


Jeffrey G. Williamson
Laird Bell Professor of Economics, Emeritus, Harvard University
Honorary Fellow, Department of Economics, University of Wisconsin
Madison, WI 53703 USA email:

Students refuse to allow staff into office | PNG Edge

Original: Students refuse to allow staff into office | PNG online news | PNG real time news | PNG Edge
Sally Pokiton on Mon, 03/17/2014 - 16:38

A forum held yesterday at the University of Technology by the Pro Vice Chancellor Micah Vines failed when students refused to allow skeleton staff into the administration building to process their pay.

Vines told students to allow bursary staff and the skeleton staff excluding the senior executive managers (SEM) to run the financial system to pay staff as well as the catering company which provides students with meals on campus.

In an attempt to get students to return to class, Mr Vines told students to either return to classes or the minister responsible for Higher Education will appoint a new interim council.

Postcourier: clueless

(Comment: If it were not a sad indication of the state of press freedom in PNG, it would be funny to see how the Postcourier in its editorial on 29 January asks for my return against the wishes of the government, and today does the opposite.

In its editorial on 17 March suddenlty it supports the PM and no longer endorses my position as Vice-Chancellor. It says the consequence of closing the university are dire for the students. The whole logic of a class boycott, hoewever, is that the consequences are even more dire for the government.

As the correctly PM says, the Council is my employer and in PNG the Council is autonomous. So no member of the government of civil service can hire or fire Vice-Chancellors. The reason for this that in a democracy it is important to protect academic freedom and university autonomy.

For this reason there is no vacancy for Vice-Chancellor at the PNG University of Technology, because I am still employed by the Council. I also fail to see how creating a new Council contributes in any manner towards a solution of the stalemate between the government and the Council. It will merely multiply the number of legal claims and counter-claims.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

A year of no progress on my return to UNITECH

I was deported unlawfully twice on 8 February and 9 March 2013 from Papua New Guinea, while holding a valid employment visa. I was not issues any deportation order or any other written notice. I was simply refused entry without a reason.

In his letter dated 11 March 2013, over 1 year ago, UNITECH Chancellor Sir Nagora Bogan expresses his dismay at the travel ban imposed on me. This ban has not been lifted until today. Many letters and meetings followed, to no avail.

Sir Nagora Bogan, Chancellor of the PNG University of Technology
In the letter he says: "(The Vice-Chancellor Dr. Schram) is ... a victim of a grandiose vindictive action orchestrated principally by members of the former Council when he started the process to restore proper governance and audit the accounts of the University."

An the government's response? On 14 March they cancelled the Vice-Chancellors employment visa.

Thank you Chancellor, for working continuously to facilitate my return. We will never give up.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Students muster support from National Union of Students NUS | PNG Edge

Original Students muster support from NUS | PNG online news | PNG real time news | PNG Edge
Julianna Waeda on Sat, 03/15/2014 - 18:39
Entrance to UNITECH administration building
Students at the University of Technology look to be boosting their show of strength by reaching out to their counterpart universities to join their protest.

Most Read Blog Posts Ever

3 Posts in the top 5 were from the last 2 weeks.

No Witch Hunt at UNITECH Feb 28, 2013:  
722 reads

Papua New Guinea University of Technology Opening ... Jan 31, 2014, 10 comments
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PM must set uni on right path | The National Mar 7, 2014, 2 comments
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Dr Schram must return as Vice Chancellor: Bogan | ...Mar 11, 2014
360 reads

Full disclosure #2: Why the Sevua Investigation Team did not interview me

The PM's press statement last week mentions I did not attend the Sevua Investigation interview at the scheduled time.

I did my very best to attend the Sevua Investigation Team interview, which according to the schedule published in the newspaper was on Wednesday 10 April 2013, at 9 am. A few days earlier, I had sent a personal messenger to the Sevua Investigation team who delivered my written response to the team's questions. It was of course in my interest to give my part of the story, after so many attempts in the media to cast doubt on my good name.

Full disclosure #1: my academic credentials

Last weeks press statement by Minister Gore and the Prime Minister again cast doubt upon my academic credentials.

Day #9 UNITECH Boycott: Authorized Student Demonstrations for Justice, Transparancy and Change at UNITECH Go Nation Wide

Wabag Demonstration
Enga province awareness campaign

Chimbu demonstration
Mendi awareness campaign

Friday, 14 March 2014

UNITECH investigation finds criminal negligence in management of funds | PNGexposed Blog

Original: UNITECH investigation finds criminal negligence in management of funds | PNGexposed Blog
March 12, 2014

A official investigation (order by the former Council in 2012 AS) at the University of Technology into the management of Public Investment Programme funds has found serious instances of mismanagement and criminal negligence involving senior staff and a former Vice Chancellor.

PM backs Minister's call to students | PNG online news | PNG real time news | PNG Edge

Original: PM backs Minister's call to students | PNG online news | PNG real time news | PNG Edge
Joy Kisselpar on Fri, 03/14/2014 - 17:31

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has reinforced the stand by Higher Education Minister Delilah Gore that the University of Technology will shut down if students do not return to classes.

O’Neill told reporters that Minister Gore has laid out a way forward and the government will support her.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Final warning to students at Unitech | PNG online news | PNG real time news | PNG Edge

Original: Final warning to students at Unitech | PNG Edge
Freddy Mou on Thu, 03/13/2014 - 18:12

The action of the students at the PNG University of Technology in closing down the administration including the ushering of the Acting Vice Chancellor out from his office is unbecoming of future leaders of this country, says Higher Education Minister Delilah Gore.

She said such behaviour was unprecedented in Papua New Guinea and universities around the world.

MEDIA RELEASE Minister for Higher Education, Research Science and Technology (13 March 2014)

Here is the text of the Press Statement released by OHE this afternoon. Last time I checked, there was no vacancy for Vice-Chancellor at the Papua New Guinea University of Technology. She has not power to appoint or dismiss Vice-Chancellors in Papua New Guinea.

I assume the Hon. Minister is referring to my person as “Albert Schram”. I prefer to be called Dr. Albert Schram in official correspondence, since I worked very hard to obtain this title. My colleagues often call me Dr. Albert.

I am still looking forward to talking with, or meeting the Minister Gore one day.

Hon. Ms. Delilah Gore, MP, Minister for Higher Education, Research Science and Technology

Media Release. Hon. Ms. Delilah Gore, MP, Minister for Higher Education, Research Science and Technology


The action of the students at the PNG University of Technology (UNITECH) in closing down the administration including the ushering of the Acting Vice Chancellor out from his office is unbecoming of future leaders of this country. Such behaviour is unprecedented in Papua New Guinea and Universities around the world. What the nation saw can be best described as a shameful act, not reflective of the nation's core value and respect for the Rule of Law.

Vice-Chancellor Message to the Protesting Students (13 March 2014)

I am very proud of UNITECH students who are keeping their protests peaceful, despite provocations, and raising awareness for the key issues across PNG. They have stood up for Justice, transparancy and transformation at UNITECH to stop corruption, political interference and complacency. They have said "NO" when they were tempted into participating in wrong sided things.

Meanwhile, we are working hard now with Chancellor Sir Nagora to establish meaningful dialogues with key stakeholders. This will hopefully lead  to a solution of the present stalemate, if all parties contain their reactions and pursue peaceful options.

We are hoping and praying everything will be over soon, and we can all return to do our respective duties.