The action of the SRC President of the UPNG at the UPNG Forum on Wednesday 4th of May 2016 to conveniently withhold the petition of the student body of the UPNG from being handed over to me as the Minister responsible for HERST is to be condemned by all peace loving citizens and parents who have children studying at this institution. Such behavior is unbecoming of our future intellectuals and leaders of this country.
UPNG SRC is on record stating clearly that the Prime Minister or his nominee will receive the petition from the students. Receiving a petition means commencement of a process so that the petitioner can receive a timely response. Up to now Government is not aware of the contents of the petition.
The O’Neill-Dion Government gave an opportunity on Wednesday 4th May 2016 for the students to present their petition. Unfortunately, that opportunity was lost.
As Minister responsible for higher learning I want make it clear to the student body that Semester 1 is coming to end, with only three weeks away from exams. It is now incumbent upon the SRC President to decide what is best for the student body, but I will take my advice from the UPNG Academic Senate, a body that presides over academic governance matters for the UPNG, and at this particular point in time, on the tenurability or viability of the academic program for Semester 1.
I would like to strongly urge the SRC President to respect the wishes of the majority of students to return to class forthwith rather than hold their future at ransom.
Not to do so would amount to academic suicide for all because students will not be allowed to withdraw as according to the rules for withdrawal from studies the deadline for such has lapsed. This would effectively mean that students have consciously chosen to fail the courses for which they have enrolled. Failing four to five courses automatically amounts to exclusion for more than two Semesters. This will mean UPNG for the first time in its history will commence enrolling only freshmen in 2017. The last time this happened was in 1965 when the UPNG was first established.
I am advised by the UPNG Management that the current boycott of classes at the UPNG is deemed illegal because the student body have failed to respect their own constitution and hence rule of law. The UPNG SRC constitution (section 44) requires that a referendum be held under the supervision of the Electoral Commission. A notice of 14 days is required. Only registered students are allowed to vote as vetted by the Registrar. The outcome is decided by two thirds majority. Any other process outside of the rule of law would be deemed illegal.
In view of the above breaches by the UPNG SRC President and his financiers I urge the student body to return to classes or risk losing their privileges.