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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, August 11) - The school-fee structure at the country’s universities are set to change, with more increase in fees expected.

Vice chancellors of the six universities recently came up with an alternative funding structure following concerns that funding for universities during the period 1999-2003 had been based on an out dated cost structure no longer appropriate under the economic situation the country is in.

The proposed review includes changes to the current fee structure and addresses the disparities in school fees charged by the country’s universities, making them more uniform and "appropriate."

The vice chancellors said the proposed structure would be equitable to all universities and affordable for the Government.

For school fees, a band system has been proposed, where schools or disciplines are placed in five categories, each representing a different fee level.

The proposed fee structure based on the actual cost of educating one student in one year would be:

However, because most students would not be able to afford the proposed fees, different universities are undertaking their own school fee reviews for affordable levels but fees for next year are set to rise from this year. University of Technology Pro Vice Chancellor (Academic) Dr. Philip Siaguru, who is chairman of the Unitech school-fee review committee, said the proposed fees will be calculated on actual on- ground costs per student.

He said his committee has started work on producing a more realistic fee level for next year.

Initial estimates are that the fees at Unitech could increase by nearly K1000 (US$311), up from K3800 (US$1,181) now to just over K4700 (US$1,461).

Siaguru has met with student leaders to explain the situation, outlining the increased fee are a result of increasing costs of running the university and insufficient budget allocation by the Government.

He urged the students to be prepared to accept the full responsibility of the cost of their education; otherwise the university would slip to becoming just a "technical college."

Siaguru said Unitech needed about K52 million to operate academic programs comfortably but the Government only gives K26 million annually.

The disparity in fee levels also showed that Unitech was at the bottom end with Divine Word charging K15,000, Vudal K12,000, Pacific Adventist K8000, University of Goroka K7000, UPNG K5000 and Unitech K3800 per student a year.

He warned students to expect an increase in the fees of about K1000 next year.

August 12, 2004

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