8 Aug 2002

Solomons education authorities says yet to hear of USP ultimatum over student debt

6:23 pm on 8 August 2002

The Solomon Island Ministry of Education says it is yet to hear from the University of the South Pacific which is demanding immediate payment of a multi million dollar debt covering student expenses.

About 200 Solomons students attending the USP face being sent home because the government is unable to pay an outstanding debt of 3 point 3 million US dollars - that's nearly 24 million Solomon Islands dollars.

The vice chancellor of the USP, Savenaca Siwatibau, says for the last few years they have been using their 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 USP wants an immediate payment of 1 point 4 million US dollars and another 920 thousand dollars before the end of October before it can consider reversing its decision.

The Solomon Islands Education Ministry says it is unaware of the ultimatum from the USP, but it expects that some of the aid money given this week by Taiwan will be paid to the University.