University Of Papua New Guinea Terminates Academic Year

Continuing intimidation and harassment of students, staff cited

By Nellie Setepano

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, June 6, 2016) – The 2016 academic year for the country’s premier university - the University of Papua New Guinea - has been terminated.

Acting chancellor Nicholas Mann made the announcement to staff and students at the university forum square at the Waigani campus yesterday afternoon.

The message was received in silence by a packed crowd of students and staff members.

"We received representation from various stakeholders including the Government, and considered them with due care for the long term interest of University of Papua New Guinea, particular the integrity of the academic programs, the council after careful consideration endorsed the senate’s recommendation to terminate the academic year," Dr Mann said.

The termination includes the Taurama campus except for activities like research, post-graduate supervision, community outreach and administrative functions that are not affected by the council’s decision.

[PIR editor's note: On July 6, 2016 The National reported that 'THE University of Technology council is in favour of the resumption of classes for the 2016 academic year, says chancellor Sir Nagora Bogan. ... He urged everyone, after a council meeting on Monday, “to support Unitech with better and alternative ideas and incentives to complete the 2016 academic year”.']

Dr Mann said the recent meetings of the UPNG council re-iterated the desire to concentrate provision of academic studies however, because of continuing intimidation and harassment of students and staff through criminal activities, the decision was made to terminate the 2016 teaching and learning activities only at the university with immediate effect.

The university is mandated to train, educate and produce graduates of required quality and standards to meet developmental and manpower needs of Papua New Guinea.

The university requires conducive and safe environment for effective teaching and learning to take place regrettably the university environment has been unstable since May 2 as a result of activities led by the students’ representative council.

Furthermore, the illegal activities led by SRC since May 2016 has created a threatening environment, leading to trauma of students and staff. The rule of law was being by replaced intimidation and violence.

The learning environment was turned into a tribal war zone with painted faces, war cries and knife weilding persons.

Dr Mann said the events of June 23 and June 24 in which a number of university vehicles, a private car and a building burned had changed the university environment to a law and order situation.

Consequently a curfew was imposed effective Sunday 26 June in an attempt to restore normalcy.

"For effective learning and teaching to take place at the University of PNG, we require restoration of a conducive and safe environment and the minds of staff and students are to be at peace. These are impossible to achieve within a short period of time under the present circumstances,’ he told students and staff.

Meanwhile, students’ sponsors, including the Department of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, have been notified of the council decision.

Students on campus have been advised to vacate the campus by this weekend.

PNG Post-Courier
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