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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (May 8, 1998-Asia-Pacific Network/ Pasifik Nius/Niuswire)---A Papua New Guinean post-graduate scholar in the United States has stirred an angry debate among academics by accusing the University of Papua New Guinea of being in "drastic decline."

In a series of letters in The National daily newspaper this week, Lawrence Kimbe's accusations against the university have drawn bitter charges of "inaccuracy" and "racism."

But some academic sources at the university have backed up the assessment by Mr. Kimbe, of the University of Illinois, claiming there has been an exodus of talented staff from UPNG under the present administration.

Although UPNG is just one of six universities in Papua New Guinea, for more than three decades it has traditionally had the role of being the "national" university.

Budget cutbacks from the PNG government and drastic restructuring in recent months have undermined the institution.

"My ultimate evidence that UPNG is in drastic decline, especially under [Vice-Chancellor] Dr. Rodney Hills, is the fact that employers do not trust a UPNG degree anymore," Mr. Kimbe wrote in The National today.

"Ask any employer of repute and they will tell you that a UPNG degree is not worth the paper it is written on."

Replying to an earlier letter of condemnation by Mr. Kimbe, one letter writer from UPNG described his complaint as "inaccurate as it is racist."

Luap Cetwo, described as a visiting Australian academic, asked what was the main task of teaching staff at any university.

"It is to teach. Mr. Kimbe wrongly equates ability to teach with ability to publish. They are not related," he said.

Another anonymous letter writer claimed that Mr. Kimbe was an academic "pikinini" who had a "colonial mentality."

Mr. Kimbe hit back in his latest letter in The National today, claiming there had been a drastic drop in the number of expatriate staff from First World universities. Others who remained, he said, were of poor quality.

"[One], a Canadian, has been at UPNG for the past 20 years, holds a UPNG Ph.D. and cannot get a job anywhere else in the world. He is also a dean," Mr. Kimbe said.

He added that the high level of crime was also a factor contributing to the decline of UPNG.

"Many lecturers have been killed, robbed or mugged on campus ground," he claimed.

"Security was a joke during my time and is a joke now."

Title -- 1342 EDUCATION: UPNG attacked over 'drastic decline' Date -- 8 May 1998 Byline – None Origin -- Pasifik Nius Source -- Asia-Pacific Network, 8/5/98 Copyright – APN Status – Abridged

This document is for educational and personal use only. Recipients should seek permission from the copyright source for reprinting. This PASIFIK NIUS service is provided by the niusedita via the Journalism Program, University of the South Pacific, and Journalism Studies, University of PNG.

Please acknowledge Niuswire: niusedita@pactok.net.au http://www.pactok.net.au/docs/nius/

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