The National,Friday 19th April 2013
SINCE enrolling at the University of Papua New Guinea in 2010, I have observed some issues faced by the university and its students.
The university seems to operate more like a commercial entity rather than as an institution solely established to provide quality education at the highest level to Papua New Guineans.
Although school fees keep on increasing each year, students do not get the expected quality educational services and are being charged additional fees for reasons unknown to them.
For example, students have to pay between K2 and K5 for copies of academic transcripts.
They also have to pay for study guidelines, course books and other services such as printing or photocopying.
Such costs have led students to
carry out small commercial activities such as selling snacks, biscuits, soft drinks, betel nuts, cigarettes and flex cards to meet their daily academic expenses.
Adding to the list of problems is the lack of quality food served in the mess, with no changes to the menu.
Students who come from privileged families prefer to cook in their residence halls while the majority of the students have no choice but to eat what is served.
There are more problems that make students feel like strangers
in the so-called premier South Pacific university.
It seems that the ideas of “mo-ney talks” and “whom you know” have been creeping into the information technology section and the accounts department.
Otherwise, the accounts department is slow in processing refunds and always gives excuses such as “system down” or “come check tomorrow or next week” is common.
Accommodation has been a huge problem this year and the condition of the residence halls is more suitable to accommodating animals.
No maintenance has been carried out to fix the shower blocks, toilets, clothes lines, fans, water taps, etc.
The problem lies with the university itself, which is directly responsible for the reported debt incurred.
To minimise the costs of electricity, water, etc, the mainte-
nance of existing facilities should
be the number one priority instead of attempting to pay for new infrastructure and facilities as this, in my opinion, is an expensive exercise.
In all honesty, accountability and capability based on merit is a missing link in the staff component of UPNG.
Currently, we hear that an investigation is underway and, as a result, many things are put on hold and student queries are being delayed.
We wonder which department is being investigated and when the outcome will be revealed.
I commend the leadership of
the new Vice-Chancellor Prof Albert Mellam who has the vision to get the premier institution back on the right track and making it debt-free again.
May God provide him with the insight and wisdom as he seeks to restore the integrity of the university.
Tony Palme Kip