Uni dorms in a mess

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By GYNNIE KERO
THE country’s premier university needs almost K15 million to carry out maintenance work on its student accommodation, administration and academic buildings, plus teaching and learning facilities.
University of PNG acting vice-chancellor Prof Kenneth Sumbuk, who toured the rundown Waigani Campus student accommodation yesterday with chancellor Jeffery Kennedy, said some buildings had been abandoned over the years due to lack of funding for renovation work.
For example, the Dame Mary Kekedo Hall alone would cost the university around K500,000 to renovate so that people can live there, Sumbuk said.
With registration and orientation next week, Sumbuk said some students might have to be accommodated at the Games Villages, while the university worked on the student accommodation buildings inside campus.
“We have a lot of buildings (student accommodation). We just have to make them liveable,” Sumbuk said.
“We actually have more rooms for students. We have the Games Villages – at present only two blocks used by females and three blocks by male residents. The rest of Games Village is entirely empty.
“If the Dame Mary Kekedo Hall is not in a state to be used, we might have to put some of the females there (Games Village) until we get some money to complete it.”
The Waigani Campus can accommodate between 10,000 and 15,000 students but at present has only 2,000 rooms which are in liveable condition.
“As soon as the Games Villages was handed over to us (UPNG), we just forgot about our buildings (old student accommodation) or abandoned them when funding for maintenance became an issue,” he said.
Kennedy said the council would look into how it could help source funding to carry out maintenance work on the buildings.
“Some of the rooms need bit of work before students can move in,” he said.
Kennedy said the university could generate revenue if all the dormitories on campus were in good condition and available for use.
“If maintenance of the Dame Mary Kekedo Hall costs K500,000, and with a boarding fee of about K6,000, the revenue generated is K1.8 million. That is for one dormitory alone,” he said.
“If we put all rooms back again and start making them available to students, the potential for revenue generation for the school (will be) around K10 million to K12 million. That is additional money that can come into the university. Of course there will be expenditure to maintain the campus.”
The interim council met on Monday and came up with a few ideas, including the setting up of a Complaints Office.
“Currently the university doesn’t have a clear channel in which students or affected people can make use of,” he said.
“That (complaints) office reports straight to the Vice-Chancellor’s office and the Council.
“Another is the whistle blower protection policy we are working on. Policy is important, that whoever raises the flag is protected.”
The council will also look into two complaints by a student and a secretary against a lecturer who they alleged had sexually harassed them.

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