20 Jul 2005

PNG government begins investigation into university leadership after violent protests

9:46 am on 20 July 2005

Papua New Guinea's government has begun an investigation into the leadership of the country's biggest university, after violent student protests against a new grading policy.

The higher education minister, Brian Pulayasi, invited student representatives into his office yesterday for a meeting of more than two hours.

Although he doesn't have the power to accede to student demands and sack the university vice-chancellor, Mr Pulayasi is getting an independent team to review the grading policy, as well as beginning an investigation into senior university staff.

A student representative at the meeting, Jimmy Dia Lapida, says the new grading system will make the University different from all the other places of higher learning in PNG, and they just want to know why...

"The university of technology in Lae does not embrace the same system. Even the university of Goroka does not embrace the same system. All we're saying is that the vice-chancellor should come up with substantial explanation as to the real, clear motive and the intention of this system."

Mr Lapida says students are willing to return to classes but need the vice-chancellor and others to step aside first.

The university council is discussing whether to terminate the whole academic year because of the increasing amount of time without classes.