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By Betty Arikapu and Peter Korugl

LAE, Papua New Guinea (October 6, 1999 – The National)---The boycott of classes by students at the University of Papua New Guinea does not have the backing of the National Union of Students (NUS) or students from the Vudal, Goroka and University of Technology campuses, for now.

This is the position of the NUS and the executives of student bodies in the other government-run universities for the time being, at least until their meeting in Goroka this weekend, when they will decide on a formal course of action.

"The office of the Student Relations Council (SRC) of Unitech is aware of what the SRC of UPNG is doing. However, the SRCs of Unitech, Goroka University, Vudal University and the NUS Office were not consulted before the boycott actions were taken over the move to increase all state universities fees by 25 percent," SRC Unitech President Johnny Wemin said yesterday.

In a memorandum to all the students yesterday, he said they would wait to see if the National Government would scrap the move to raise the tuition and lodging fees in its year 2000 budget, an undertaking which he claimed was given by Education Minister Prof. John Waiko.

Meanwhile, Morobe Governor Luther Wenge yesterday threw his weight behind the UPNG students and called on the National Government to revive the National Scholarship Scheme (NatSchol).

"Students are the pillar of this nation in the future. The government must make all efforts to train them properly," Mr. Wenge said.

Classes remain suspended at the University of Papua New Guinea (at Waigani outside Port Moresby) as the students continued their protest against the increase.

A forum held by the students in front of the administration block at UPNG was attended by the Acting Vice Chancellor Dr. Cecilia Nembou and other staff members.

Dr. Nembou, however, declined to give a firm response to the demand by the students.

The striking students will present a redrafted petition to the university administration today.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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