Crunch-time for the University of Papua New Guinea
AbstractAfter a promising start as the place where many of the country’s future leaders were educated, the University of Papua New Guinea is now a shadow of its former self. With minimal international support and destructive government policies ranking tertiary education of little importance for development, UPNG now operates on a budget totally inadequate to run a contemporary university. The minimal coverage of UPNG’s decline in the national media is reflected in a poorly run journalism programme which has had a stop-start history. By comparison, the University of the South Pacific thrives and its management set targets to raise the proportion of people from member countries who attend tertiary education. International support, financial as well as supervisory, continues to make a major contribution to USP’s operations. During major crises in Fiji, where USP’s main campus is located, journalism students at the university have performed exemplary roles. Even the controversies which repeatedly surface about the programme indicate its continuing importance at USP. This essay argues that only the formation of a substantial consortium, with international donors joining a PNG government committed to a dramatic reversal of policy, can rescue what began as the country’s premier tertiary institution. The demand for skilled and managerial labour in the South Pacific’s second largest country, by population, requires a revitalised UPNG which could in turn lead a major reform of tertiary education and indeed all education.
Copyright (c) 2014 Scott MacWilliam
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