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By Frank Rai

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Dec. 28) - The Papua New Guinea University of Technology (Unitech) faces a serious threat to its academic program next year following resignations by its senior staff.

More than 22 senior academics – expatriates and nationals - have resigned from the Lae campus over the past three months.

Three more are expected to follow suit in the New Year. The turn-over list includes doctorate holders.

And the severe repercussion is that three highly technical programmes may have to be scrapped.

It is understood the tutors’ departures is connected to the differences between the staff and some senior members of the university’s administration and Unitech’s inability to address their concerns.

Unitech’s mining and engineering department, computer science (business studies department) and chemistry (department of applied physics) are on the brink of shutting down if replacements are not recruited in time for the new academic year.

Documents obtained by The National yesterday showed that the department of mining and engineering currently had one lecturer while there were no lecturers available for computer science and chemistry for the 2008 academic year.

The university holds a staff ceiling of 180 academic staff members but there are only 92, compelling a lecturer to teach more than three subjects a semester.

It is understood that a lecture will have more than 200 students in a class if the problem is not resolved immediately.

Sources at Unitech said that since the department of mining and engineering had only one staff on record, the department would be closed for the year.

The sources also claimed that the same would happen to the computer science and chemistry courses offered at the university.

It is understood that chemistry and mathematics courses are a service course or compulsory course offered at the university for all engineering students and without them, the programmes would not be complete.

The sources also said there were no department heads for business studies, architecture and building, agriculture, mining, survey and lands.

Sources said the 2,600 students studying under different programmes at Unitech would suffer and this means that if they were forced into the academic year then their quality of education would be compromised.

They said there was not enough time for the university council or the administration to recruit lecturers because the process of recruitment usually takes between six months and a year.

Attempts to contact the Unitech administration for comment were unsuccessful.

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