8 Aug 2002

Solomon Islands students at USP may have to go home

10:37 am on 8 August 2002

About 200 Solomon Islands students attending the University of the South Pacific face being forced to go home because the Solomon Islands government is unable to pay their fees amounting to millions of dollars.

The vice chancellor of the USP, Savenaca Siwatibau, has told Fiji-TV the Solomons government owes the university more than 3 point 3 million US dollars .

For the last few years the USP has been using its reserves to pay the expenses of Solomon Islands students.

But Mr Siwatibau says the USP council has decided that it will not be able to continue doing this any more because it just does not have the cash.

He says the council has decided that the Solomon Islands government will have to pay 1 point 4 million US dollars immediately and another 920 thousand dollars before the end of October before it can consider reversing its decision.

Talks between the USP and the deputy prime minister of the Solomon Islands have not brought any committments and there is a strong possibility that the students will have to return home.

A recent report said Solomon Islands students living off campus in Suva were forced to survive on just canned fish and rice because they were not receiving any cash allowances.