PNG students consider returning to class

2:33 pm on 4 June 2016

The Student Representative Council of the University of Papua New Guinea will meet today to decide whether to continue its boycott of classes after the University announced that lectures would resume.

UPNG student rally at the Waigani Campus.

UPNG student rally at the Waigani Campus. Photo: UPNG4PNG

The University (UPNG) said classes at the school of medicine and health sciences would recommence on Monday, June the 6th while classes at the Waigani Campus would begin again on Tuesday, June the 14th.

The student boycott began on May the 2nd in an effort to pressure the Prime Minister, Peter O'Neill, into stepping down to face corruption allegations.

On May the 24th, the University announced the first semester had been suspended and gave students 48 hours to leave the campus.

The UPNG Student Representative Council (SRC) successfully appealed the eviction, which was defered by the National Court until June the 22nd.

The decision to restart teaching was made yesterday in a special meeting of the University Council.

Acting chancellor Dr Nicholas Mann said the 2016 academic plan had been adjusted to accommodate the suspended semester.

Semester one examinations will start on July the 4th and end on July the 15th before semester two starts on Monday, July the 25th.

The University's Public Affairs Manager, James Robins said the academic year will be extended by three weeks until the 5th of November.

He said there was no more room in the calendar to accomodate any further boycotting of classes.

"We will extend (the academic year) as much as we can with our current funding. We have negotiations going on now with government to see where we might get a new source of funding or an extension of funding.

"At this point in time we're running on the smell of an oily rag," he said.

Mr Robins said the majority of students wanted to return to class.

"Those who are still here on campus, they tell you we are pleased we can go back to classes," he said.

"Those students who left when they were requested to leave on the 24th of May, many of those have been incontact with Student Services and indicated we want to come back, when can we start classes."

One of the student leaders, Gerald Tulu Manu-Peni, said the SRC would meet today to decide whether to resume the boycott.

"Today all the provincial leaders from all the regional groups will come and we will discuss the decision. The decision alone is a collective decision of each and every individual student.

"But in the best interests of all the students and the stakeholders of this institution it must be a win win solution at the end," said Mr Manu Peni.

"PM has to step down."

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