Three Key Questions About PNG Universities You Should Ask- By An Academic

Original post by Lawrence Sause

UNIVERSITY ENROLMENT FOR 2017

In one of the recent post on good students being shut out of university enrolment, I provide my take (response) by saying this.......

Let's have a long range perspective on this. Too many young PNGeans will fall on the way side because of space, even those with the best grades.

In the long term we must create space in our universities to cater for those who can come. This will require investment in infrastructure  and teaching facilities and aids, academic staff expansionary and expansion of disciplines. In all my years at the UPNG, I've witnessed first hand the severe deterioration of the university teaching, learning and support facilities not only in UPNG, but also in all public universities. In some classes, including mine, students stand even right to the door and outside to attend lectures, to my great disappointment.


The raising of the GPA threshold for enrolment, often at crazy levels, is nothing more than an artificial strategy adopted as a coping mechanism against a perverse lack of capacity to function given the debilitating state of teaching, learning and support facilities. In the long term, curtailing even good students in exchange for coping, must be seriously questioned. Do we want to keep doing this?


If I were to tell you that about 70 percent of the academic disciplines at UPNG do not have an Associate. Prof or a Prof, would that surprise you? Yet that is the situation. In the School of Business and Public Policy for example, there are only two nationals with a PhD and only one Associate Prof who is the Dean, in the entire school. We are not competitive and we cannot attract the best, remuneration wise. However, there is more to this problem. Good academics who can raise the standard of university teaching and the transmission of knowledge want a good place of work that is rewarding and can help develop their own career. UPNG and other PNG Public universities can't offer that. By the best of standards, our infrastructure and learning facilities cannot even match those in some of the  colleges I've seen in NZ and Australia. So, debilitating infrastructure, teaching and learning facilitues not only deters getting young PNGeans but also becomes the key stumbling block for recruiting and retaining quality staff. How much longer can we continue to impose those crazy artificial GPA requirements just to cope against capacity-related problems in our universities? It's crazy.

Government support to universities has drastically fallen commensurate with the demand for space and the need to upscale and modernise our universities to world class standards. Those of you who have been to UNITEC and UPNG, have you seen any significant change in the infrastructure and teaching and learning facilities in your most recent visits? National leaders including our Prime Minister should also be asked the same question. So I am inclined to ask, what do they see now compared to their years at the university? Nothing different really, instead broken-down halls, buildings, labs and libraries, pipes and sewers etc.

Friends, the shutting out of good students on university enrollment is a symptom of a much larger problem, a problem of lack of investment on universities by government,  which is creating capacity-related problems. So GPA requirements and shedding off good students is a mere strategy to cope.

This leads me to pose several big questions about our future and that of our universities:

1. WHAT IS THE ROLE OF UNIVERSITIES IN PNG?
2. WHAT WILL THE FUTURE OF PNG BE LIKE WITHOUT VIBRANT, STRONGER AND MODERN UNIVERSITIES?
3. WHAT GENERATION OF PNGEANS ARE WE BUILDING TODAY FOR THE FUTURE FROM OUR DEBILITATING AND COLLAPSING UNIVERSITIES, AND ARE WE REALLY PREPARING THEM TO TAKE THE COUNTRY FORWARD IN THE FUTURE?

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