By REBECCA KUKU
THE Government plans to introduce a student loan scheme to help students who cannot afford fees in tertiary institutions, says Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.
He told Parliament yesterday that the scheme can be modelled on what the Australian federal government currently has for its university students.
“We are going to look at how we can make loans accessible to students who can later repay the loans once they graduate and start working,” he said.
“This is practised in many countries including Australia. And in many cases, there is little or no interest on the student loans.”
He was responding to concerns raised by Wabag MP Dr Lino Tom on the hardships faced by some students and parents to meet the fees imposed by the tertiary institutions.
“Eighty per cent of the people are villagers who cannot afford the K14,000 school fees or the K7000 tuition fees charged by the university (of PNG),” Tom said.
“The education fee structure is discriminatory as most of our people in the village cannot afford it.”
Tom also requested that the University of PNG extend the registration period for first-year students who were yet to pay their tuition fees.
Tom asked O’Neill to intervene on their behalf to allow parents and guardians time to raise money for the fees.
O’Neill said he would get UPNG to extend the registration.
He also said he would speak to universities to allow students to pay their school fees over a period of time.
UPNG students last month raised their concern after the university council increased fees for 2018 – some by as much as 200 per cent over what they paid last year.
The new fee structure was reversed after talks between the council and the Department of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology.
By REBECCA KUKU