PNG vice chancellor glad to be back
Re-instated PNG university head delighted to be back in Lae.
The newly re-installed vice chancellor of Papua New Guinea's University of Technology, Dr Albert Schram, says there are immediate measures he's taking to resolve long standing grievances.
Dr Schram has been back at the university in Lae after being forced out of the country a year ago when the university council took issue with a reform programme he had started.
He is back, after students, boycotting classes, demanded he be re-instated as vice chancellor and given the appropriate visa.
Don Wiseman asked him how it feels to be back.
ALBERT SCHRAM: Yeah thank you it's very nice to be back. It's like getting a second start but I know all the people already so that makes it much easier.
DON WISEMAN: Where do you begin given that you had a reformist approach right at the start and then you got knee-capped, are you going to take a slightly more considered approach or are you going to go at it bull-at-a-gate?
AS: No I was never taking a very aggressive approach but proper management is proper management. So you start with following the money and together with the other state universities we doing intensive internal audits now which show us how to improve our systems. Then, there are some urgent measures which the students and the staff have been waiting for many years. The staff has been promised a salary review several times so that is quite a heavy process which we must start soon. The students, we can make some improvements which will improve their living and learning experience on campus quickly so we ordered a few television sets for their common room so they can watch their games on the weekend, just a simple measure. We are also committed to providing university wide internet access. Last year we did a survey and the students spend about half of their money on cellphone credits because they cannot use the wifi on campus.
DW: They are simple things and yet there were fundamental problems at the university. The students have accused the previous management of corruption, are they right? Is that something you're going to be looking at?
AS: Before we make any allegations of a criminal nature we look at the finances and how money is actually spent. That usually indicates where improvements can be made. The reasons students are disappointed is because they do pay quite hefty school fees and they expect, quite reasonably, that the basic facilities are there for them to learn. That is a bit of a challenge in PNG in general because of the inadequate provision of electrical powers. We have 8 or 10 power cuts per day. That creates havoc in our IT systems and other systems as well.
DW: You can't do anything about the power cuts though...
AS: No, we can't do much about that but we have generators so we need to optimise their use. I know it can be done. The challenges may seem daunting but the Unitec staff and students will step up to the challenges and together we can make quite a number of improvements rather quickly.
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