The Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (MHERST) and the Department of Higher Education, Research Science and Technology (DHERST) would like to provide students, parents, corporate sponsors and the general public with basic information and facts regarding the National Selections for Grade 12 School Leavers and the awarding of the national Government’s Tertiary Education Study Assistance Scheme (TESAS) Scholarship. This is in response to frequently asked questions and to provide stakeholders with facts.

There are two (2) processes which all our stakeholders need to be aware of. First is the National Selections for Grade 12 School Leavers and second is the awarding of the TESAS Scholarships. National Selections takes place before the awarding of TESAS Scholarships.


The role of DHERST during the National Selections is basically to facilitate the process of Selections by organizing a suitable venue, provide completed School Leaver Forms (SLF) to the national Selectors and in collaboration with the Measurement Services Division (MSD) of the Department of Education (DoE), provide grade 12 final exam results to the national Selectors. DHERST does not select students to Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) during the National Selections.

During national selections, representatives from various registered HEIs take on the role of selectors to select grade 12 students who have sat for the Grade 12 final exams all across Papua New Guinea (PNG). The Selectors or representatives from the registered HEIs (NOT DHERST) make their respective selections based on a number of criteria which includes the following:

  1. Minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) Requirement
  2. The minimum GPA requirement to be accepted by any registered HEI (i.e. universities and colleges) varies across the board. Some HEIs may have a standard minimum GPA as an entry requirement for all of its programs. Other HEIs have specific minimum GPA entry requirement for each of their programs.

    For example, the minimum GPA requirement for a student to be accepted for Science Foundation Year (SFY) at the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) is different to that required of students applying to study Political Science at the same institution (UPNG).

    Students who do not meet the GPA requirements of HEIs are not selected during the national selections.

  3. Course Preferences on the School Leaver Form (SLF)
  4. Selectors or HEIs also take into consideration the course preferences of students as indicated on their respective SLFs. The SLF provides grade 12 students with the opportunity to indicate the higher and technical education program which they are interested to pursue after successfully completing grade 12.

    Filling in of SLFs by students is done before they sit for the grade 12 final exams guided by respective Secondary or National High School Teachers and Guidance Officers from DoE. Students have the opportunity to list any two (2) courses/programs in the order of their preference on the SLFs.

    Selectors mainly consider the first preferences of students on their SLFs and work through if a quota for a particular course/program is not exhausted.

    It is important for all stakeholders to note also that, there is a third (3rd) optional preference on the SLF. This is an opportunity given to students but it is up to them to indicate on the SLF whether to accept it or not. Here the Selectors can select a student for any other course/program within their HEIs if he/she is not selected for the first and second choices on his/her SLF but scored an eligible or high GPA.

    This is an explanation for a few cases where school leavers will notice that they were selected by an institution and or/program which they did not apply for through the SLF.

  5. Grade 12 Subject Combination
  6. The combination of subjects (e.g. Language & Literature, Economics, Physics, Geography, Advanced Math etc.) is also an important factor which Selectors or HEIs consider when conducting national selections. Certain higher and technical education courses/programs requires specific mix of grade 12 subjects as fundamental to commencing university or college level studies.

    Students should receive course advising from their Guidance teachers or Guidance officers from DoE in grade 11 to assist them in making their choices on the subject combination to take in line with their career interests. Setting of subject combination falls under the responsibility of DoE in consultation with HEIs.

    During national selections, selectors look at the subject combination of students against their preferences and GPAs. Take the engineering program as an example. Students applying through the SLF to take Mining Engineering must have the essential mix of Advanced Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Language and Literature (L&L) to be considered. If in this instance a student applying for Mining Engineering took a combination of Advanced Maths, Biology and L&L during grade 12, he/she will not be considered given Physics is not included in the subject combination. (Physics is a fundamental subject to studying engineering programs).

    Career expositions are also held annually where various HEIs set up information booths for students to get direct information from HEIs about the institutions, their programs and entry requirements.

    Diagnostic Testing

    Stakeholders should note also that certain institutions may also have additional entry tests or diagnostic tests in their pursuit for the most eligible students. This is a matter entirely up to respective HEIs and not DHERST.

    The PNG University of Technology (UoT) is an example of an institution that has introduced a diagnostic testing exercise in 2016 to admit students into its science and engineering programs. This is a decision of UOT’s governing council.

  7. Absorptive Capacity of Institutions
  8. Institutions (HEIs) are also conscious of their respective capacities to take on students. Each institution depending on the resources (e.g. infrastructure and teaching staff) available, makes the decision on the maximum number of students it can accept for any particular course/program.


The TESAS Scholarship is funded by the Government of Papua New Guinea (GoPNG) and is managed by DHERST. TESAS is merit based and guided by national priorities and international development trends.

TESAS Scholarship is awarded to both new intakes and continuing students who are accepted by registered HEIs to commence and continue their studies respectively and importantly also those who meet the eligibility requirements of TESAS. The awarding of TESAS scholarship eventuates after the National Selections.

There are two categories of TESAS. The first category is Academic Excellence Scholarship (AES).This undergraduate Scholarship is awarded to:

  1. High-achieving Grade 12 school leavers who have been admitted in to an approved university undergraduate program; and
  2. Continuing undergraduate students who have completed their previous year in an approved university program and attained excellent academic results.

The second category is the Higher Education Contribution Assistance Scheme (HECAS). This category of TESAS is awarded to:

  1. Grade 12 school leavers who have been admitted in to an approved undergraduate program at a registered university or college and have attained the qualifying minimum GPA level or above among other criteria; and
  2. Continuing undergraduate students who have completed their previous year in an approved program at a registered university or college and have attained the qualifying minimum GPA level or above among other criteria.

The number of students benefiting from TESAS varies from year to year for a number of reasons but the primary factor has been the level of government funding.

After the completion of the national selections for grade 12 School Leavers, the respective HEIs submit their acceptance lists plus their lists of continuing students to DHERST. TESAS Scholarship is awarded based on the following:

  1. Acceptance by HEIs
  2. Students (both school leavers and continuing students) must be accepted by a registered HEI to either commence or continue on with their studies. In other words, students must be accepted by HEIs in order to be considered for TESAS Scholarship.

  3. GPA Requirement

  4. TESAS scholarship is merit based and thus, students must meet a minimum GPA requirement to be considered. The minimum GPA requirement for new intakes in 2017 was 2.3. A total of 4832 scholarships were awarded to new intakes. The number of TESAS Scholarships could not be increased any further given that the number of school leavers with a GPA of 2.3 and above accepted for programs that are in line with government priorities had fully exhausted the total scholarships awarded.

  5. Government Priority Areas
  6. Awarding of TESAS scholarship is now strategically aligned to courses/programs in Agriculture and Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths (STEM) in line with GoPNG’s commitment to APEC priorities and other government priority areas.

    It is important that scholarships must take a targeted approach to address the country’s development needs. For a long while the government has been supporting more graduates in the arts, humanities and business fields through the TESAS scholarship and lesser number of scholarships were awarded to those taking up science and technology related courses.

    As our stakeholders will appreciate the development of PNG cannot be driven by social scientists alone. A good mix of professionals is needed to carry this country forward. The international development trends and advances in science and technology abroad also signal the path and pace at which PNG’s higher and technical education sector must take for the welfare of the nation and also to keep up with the rest of the global community.

    The number of scientists, health professionals and highly skilled trades’ people from PNG needs to be increased. One way is to encourage more students to take up science subjects and advanced maths and to ensure these students are supported to complete higher levels of education and training. Scholarships are one of the means to support these students.

    National data indicates that the number of students taking up science and advanced maths is fairly low compared to those taking up social sciences. In other words PNG has been producing more graduates in social science and the arts in comparison to graduates in the science fields. Thus, the approach to ensure scholarships are targeting areas of needs is intended to encourage more students apply for science related courses/programs and also to continue supporting those high performing students taking up STEM, Agriculture related courses to complete their higher education qualifications.

  7. Annual Budget Appropriation for TESAS
  8. The number students who can be awarded the TESAS Scholarship is also determined by the annual budget allocation for TESAS. The Government is only able to support a certain number of students each year through the national budget process.

    DHERST cannot award more scholarships exceeding the resources made available to it. Doing so is unrealistic and will incur debt on the department and the State.


The 2014 TESAS review endorsed a few changes to the TESAS Policy. One of which is the endorsement of the 60% increase of the TESAS fees payable by GoPNG through DHERST.

Below is the TESAS Fee Structure for 2017:

TESAS Category HEI Type Previous (GoPNG’s /TESAS Component)Amount 2017 Amount

(GoPNG’s/TESAS Component)

AES Universities K3,600 K5,760
HECAS K2,700 K4,320
HECAS only Non-Universities K1,743 K2,788.80

Parents and guardians of students who have been awarded TESAS scholarship for 2017 must take note of the TESAS fee structure according to TESAS category (AES or HECAS) and HEI type (University or Non University) to complete tuition fee payments to respective HEIs for the 2017 academic year.

The parents/students component of the fee payment is the difference between the full fees as set by respective HEIs and the appropriate TESAS amount (GoPNG’s Component) as per the table above.

Students on self-sponsor, international students and corporate sponsored students will meet the full fees as set by respective HEIs.

Students, parents and sponsors must contact the respective HEIs to confirm their tuition fees for 2017.

For further information you can call the Tertiary Admissions and Scholarships Division (TASD) of DHERST on the following telephone numbers: 301 2043/ 301 2039/ 301 2092.

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Charles Mabia

Charles is the Deputy Secretary in charge of the Strategic Policy and Research wing.

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