Ray of hope

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By REBECCA KUKU and PHOEBE GWANGILO
TALKS are continuing between the Government and the University of PNG on how big increases in fees for students in 2018 can be avoided.
Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer Charles Abel told The National that Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and Minister for Higher Education, Science, Research and Technology Pila Niningi met yesterday with the vice-chancellors of the university to discuss the issue.
Two student groups, from Jiwaka and Morobe, this week called on the government to intervene after UPNG released its 2018 fees structure which showed increases of nearly 200 per cent.
Jiwaka Students Union president Peter Bari, a third-year Natural and Physical Science student, said poor parents would not be able to pay for the increased fees.
“We want to complete our studies. Education is our right. We cannot be denied this right,” he said.
Executive director of the Institute of National Affairs Paul Barker told The National yesterday that it was “quite heart-breaking to think of poor parents who had struggled to get their children through school then being faced with these impossible costs”.
Abel said the Government was looking into the increased fees to see how it would work with the university to avoid the increases.
For example, compulsory fees for Waigani campus students have been increased from K2939 last year to K7500 in 2018.
Taurama Campus Health Sciences compulsory fees have been increased from K3029 in 2017 to K7500 in 2018.
Taurama Nursing increased from K3180 to K9005. A senior UPNG official who asked not to be identified said: “This is a very complex issue that revolves around government funding of tertiary institutions and the reality of running the biggest university in PNG.
“The University, the Department of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, and the Government are currently in discussions concerning this issue. Hopefully, positive statements will be made in the near future as to how the matter can be clarified.”
Department Secretary Fr Jan Czuba said he would comment on the matter today.

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