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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.

The minister said if the students did not halt their boycott and return to classes, she would have to recommend to Cabinet to declare a state of emergency on campus and to end the 2014 academic year.

“What the nation saw can be best described as a shameful act, not reflective of the nation’s core values and respect for the rule of law.

“This deplorable action therefore must be condemned by every law abiding citizen, including the parents, guardians and sponsors of these students. Their action is a direct breach of academic decorum and code of ethics, which are prescribed in the university by laws and statutes.”

Gore said under these by laws and statutes, students must conduct themselves appropriately by respecting faculty members and fellow students.

She said the ongoing actions and behavior of students were disrespectful to their own parents, sponsors, the community and the country as a whole.

“Since assuming office as the Minister responsible for higher education institutions in the country, I have given this issue the highest priority it deserves. I have engaged in consultation with all stakeholders including the former council, the current interim council, management and members of the student body to find an amicable solution to the issue. At this stage, this consultation process is continuing and I will be bringing to Cabinet a submission with my recommendations to the Government for its consideration.

“While this process is in motion, I have appealed to students to return to class - and again I wish to encourage students to return to class.

“Your education must be your number one priority because education is the key to your future. I am sure your parents, who have worked hard and even sacrificed their own welfare for you to have a better future, will not accept such unruly behaviour. You owe it to your parents, guardians, sponsors, and our country to return to class,” she said.

Minister Gore said her ministry was unable to act on the students’ petition because of two legal challenges instituted by the former council and Albert Schram, which restrained the Government, particularly the Minister responsible for higher education, from taking any corrective actions.

She assured the students that as soon as these legal proceedings and consultations were concluded, the Ministry would recommend to the Government to take the following measures:

1. Immediately appoint a permanent council as per the University of Technology Act, 1986;
2. The new council will immediately advertise the position of Vice Chancellor, which will be opened to all interested applicants, including Albert Scram;
3. The recruitment and selection will be undertaken by an independent human resource company, preferably an international HR firm;
4. Issues of governance, including those arising from the mediation and the Sevua investigation reports will be implemented through a specially established taskforce;
5. The Ministry has already instituted the review of the Higher Education Act of 1983, which will soon be presented to Government aimed at reducing the size and duration of terms of office of university councils and the appointment of vice chancellors;
6. All state universities have either completed or are completing external institutional quality audits referenced to international standards with recommendations soon to be presented to Government; and
7. The Sevua report will be tabled in the May session of Parliament although some of its recommendations are not conclusive, especially on Albert Schram.

Gore said with the actions, all concerns raised by the students and general public over the management of our universities including the University of Technology will be adequately addressed.

“I am 100% committed to reform the higher education sector and you can be guaranteed that with the support of the Prime Minister, the Government will ensure our universities attain international status.

“I am now making my final appeal to students to immediately return to class. Failing that, I will be left with no option but to recommend to the National Executive Council to declare a State of Emergency at the campus and closure of 2014 Academic year.”

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