3 Aug 2005

PNG minister names inquiry team at UPNG

2:58 pm on 3 August 2005

The Higher Education Minister in Papua New Guinea, Don Polye, has released the names of an international team that is to investigate allegations that have brought education at the country's leading university to a standstill over the past month.

Students at the University of PNG were to return to classes this week after Mr Polye stepped into a clash between students and the university administration last Friday, leading to the stepping-aside, temporarily, of the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Leslie Eastcott.

Students concerns centred on the application of a grading system.

Mr Polye has named New Zealand and Oxford educated Kenneth Sumbuk, the head of the university's School of Humanities and Social Sciences, as the Acting Vice-Chancellor during the investigation.

Professor Sumbuk, 39, has taught at UPNG for the past 16 years.

The newspaper, The National, reports that the National Research Institute director, Dr Thomas Webster, will chair the investigation.

The other members are long-time social worker Lady Hilan Los; Dr Bryan Gould, a former vice-chancellor at Waikato University in New Zealand; lawyer and diplomat Sir Kina Bona; and former auditor-general Makena Geno.

Dr Polye says they will look into the grading system; conduct of police and security guards; and the university administration generally.

He says the inquiry will take four weeks, and the University Council will act on the findings.

Mr Polye has appealed to all parties to take their complaints to the investigators.