By JEFFREY ELAPA
SOUTHERN Highlands students bound for national high schools and tertiary institutions nationwide are stranded because their Higher Education Contribution Assistance Scheme (HECAS) tickets for transport have been delayed.
The National received calls from frustrated students and parents in Mendi, expressing concern that the students were still without tickets.
A concerned relative, Judith Porol, said all students on HECAS were stranded and they would be late for school as the academic year starts this week.
“Many parents are now trying to pay for their children’s airfares because the Office of Higher Education and the travel agent engaged to arrange the tickets for students have been very slow.
“The parents were told by the Air Niugini office in Mendi that it had yet to receive the tickets and that they just had to wait,” she said.
Simon Pupio, a final year health management student at the Divine Word University, said he would be paying for his own ticket as he was told by the travel agent that the tickets would be ready by Feb 9.
“There are many parents who can’t afford to pay the fares as they have to pay the school fees,” he said.
He said those who can afford would also be late as flights out of Mendi were fully booked.
Another student, Freddie Elapa, who will be going to Passam National High School in the East Sepik province, said he could not afford to pay for his own ticket.
“I have to pay the fees. I just have to wait for the ticket,” he said.
An officer with the students support and scholarship branch said all new intakes would have to contact their nearest Air Niugini ticketing office for their tickets while continuing students would have to check with the nearest post office as the travel agent engaged would arrange all tickets.
Attempts to contact the travel agent were unsuccessful as all lines were out.