An Australian volunteer who was doing whatever volunteers do in PNG.
I was there for 2 years until Dec 2005 .. I hope I made the most of it.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Students Striking

Unitech (my employer) is currently in the midst of a shut-down, caused by the students striking. The students are not surprisingly pretty unhappy at the moment that they will have to up to pay nearly 6 times more for their education starting next year.

Currently they get a bill from Unitech of K3800 a year for any course they do, but from next year depending on their course they will be whacked with an increase of between K8000 and K22,400! A bit of leap to say the least.

The actual proposed fee structure that is being looked at brought in is a joint proposal across the all six Universities. The Universities want to bring a new 5 band costing structure that depends on the course, and because this is a Technological Uni most of the courses here are in the higher bands 4 and 5. They breaks down as follows:

  • Band 1 - (Disciplines): Administration, Arts, Business, Commerce, Economics, Humanities and Law @ K8,000

  • Band 2 - Behavioural Sciences, Social Studies @ K10,400

  • Band 3 - Architecture, Built environment, computing, education, foreign languages, health, nursing, visual and performing arts @ K12,000

  • Band 4 - Engineering, science and surveying @ K19,200

  • Band 5 - Agriculture, dentistry, fisheries, forestry, medicine and veterinary sciences @ K22,400

These student strikes have a history of getting pretty nasty in PNG. So far there has been just the normal lock the gates, make demands and hand in petitions. But this morning it looks like it could turn the other way with a section of the students chasing any students that are not involved with the strike and giving them a beating.

Hopefully as the Post Courier says some sense will prevail in all this. Obviously the fee structure is going to cripple access to tertiary education to the masses in this country, how are villages going to come up with K22,400 a year? But also as it is at the moment the Uni is running on a shoestring.

It shall be all interesting to my uninitiated eyes.