Vice chancellor waiting on right visa before PNG return
The ousted vice chancellor of PNG's Unitech university is waiting on immigration clearance before he returns to resume his job in Lae.
An educationalist at the centre of a lengthy dispute in Papua New Guinea is waiting on a working visa before he returns to the country that deported him last year.
Dr Albert Schram was appointed vice chancellor at Lae's University of Technology in 2012 and while he quickly made a positive impact with students he ran afoul of some in the university council.
He was deported a year ago sparking student protests which are continuing. The government has now appointed Sir Nagora Bogan as the chancellor and he has announced Dr Schram will return.
Dr Schram told Don Wiseman he is set to go back but needs the right visa.
ALBERT SCHRAM: At the beginning of this year in February, the chancellor published a press notice that I had been reconfirmed as vice-chancellor and they were waiting for my return. Soon afterwards, the three staff organisations of the university followed suit and then the students petitioned the government, you know, asking for my return, but when the government didn't reply at all they started this class boycott and their motto is "no Schram, no school"
DON WISEMAN:Yes. (laughs)
AS: So they are quite adamant. It's like a one issue campaign so I have been working very hard to go back but it has been difficult and there are still some obstacles.
DW: You made a huge impression on those students in the short amount of time you were there. It's going to be a difficult thing to live up to when you go back, isn't it?
AS: No, not at all, actually I am quite looking forward to it. When you apply modern management and you just listen to people and solve problems it is amazing how well the Papua New Guineans react to that. Of course, all the accomplishments that our management team achieved in the period while we were there were actually achieved by the staff and the students.
DW: Yes, but it is a difficult situation as well isn't it. Do you want to put yourself through it all again?
AS: (Laughs). I am more tired of the waiting than being on the ground and solving problems and getting things done. So I believe that we are almost there and there is just some silly allegations from former council members that have some politicians spooked at the moment which we need to remove.
DW: To get into the country, you need a working visa but you haven't got one.
AS: That's it, correct.
DW: And you can't get one?
AS: Yes I can get one, I comply with all the criteria. It was actually submitted last year, the 26th of August, but then there was still a travel ban so it was kept on hold until it was resubmitted again, the 5th of March, when my travel ban was temporarily lifted but then my travel ban was put back in place because of the student boycott and now this travel ban has been lifted again so we believe that it is close but I still don't have it.
DW: So when do you think you will be there?
AS: We have currently got the chancellor, the attorney-general, the representatives of the students and the staff, all in Port Moresby, talking to the government to please hurry up because you know as educators we are very concerned that the students now have missed almost one month because of their peaceful class boycott.
DW: Yes, and they have said they will continue doing that until you arrive in the country because they have been through this process before when they were assured you were coming back and it didn't happen.
AS: Correct. That's exactly the reason and I have been accused of prolonging the class boycott and whatnot but I actually do the opposite. I am just trying very hard to go back but I have to go back in a legal manner otherwise I will expose myself again to other lawsuits. There have been so many frivolous and vexatious litigation now about this issue that we really don't want to add to that.
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