By DULCIE OREKE
HIGHER Education, Research, Science and Technology Minister Micheal Ogio adjourned yesterday’s meeting with the University of Goroka (UOG) student leaders and National Academic Staff Association (NASA) executives in Port Moresby to seek legal advice prior to responding to a petition that was presented to him.
The student leaders and NASA executives arrived in the city to present the petition to the minister on Friday which was finally delivered to him in front of the office of higher education (OHE) director general Dr William Tagis and media personnel.
Despite the appeal by the minister for students to attend classes, SRC president Benjamin Michael repeatedly said at the meeting that the student body would not be returning to class until and unless they received a favourable response from the trip.
“We will continue the boycott until everything comes in our favour,” he said.
In the meantime, Mr Ogio outlined that all universities in the country operated under their acts and according to the acts of respective universities, the governing body was the university council.
“The university is the only authority that deals with all administrative issues.
“All universities operate under their acts and the overriding act is the higher education act 1983,” Mr Ogio said.
He also pointed out that he would not be taking sides with any party in the UOG crises, be it the administration, students, NASA or landowners.
“I am also aware that after the March 5 court hearing and the further postponement of the case to March 12, there has been an agreement by the SRC legal counsel and the lawyers representing the university administration that classes must commence on March 8 while the case is being dealt with through the processes of the courts,” Mr Ogio said.
He said he would receive the petition but would not provide an immediate response because he needed time to look through it carefully.
He also said he was saddened by the circumstances of the meeting because he was aware that the students were there to present their petition after five weeks of disagreement with the university leadership and Government through OHE.