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Thursday 7 July 2016 | Published in Regional


PAPUA NEW GUINEA – The Papua New Guinea Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, says his government is negotiating with the University of PNG in an effort to save the academic year.

O’Neill told the newspaper PNG Today that if the academic year had to be extended into December, the government would do everything possible for the students to continue studies.

The UPNG council has given students until Saturday to leave the university’s two Port Moresby campuses. But O’Neill urged the students to stay calm while authorities find a way forward.

He said education was the top priority of the government and it could not see it being jeopardised.

“Government has invested tremendously in education every year to ensure students are well educated to become good citizens and contribute meaningfully towards the development of the country,” said O’Neill.

“The honour is on the students to think seriously about their education and the amount of effort the government and their parents have put in for them to have a better education and a successful life in the future.”

The student boycott began on May 2 to pressure O’Neill into stepping down to face fraud allegations. Led by the Student Representative Council, the boycott spread to the University of Technology in Lae and the University of Goroka.

The death of a student in violence between students on June 25 has caused the indefinite suspension of classes at Unitech, while the University of Goroka said it was hoping to restart lectures next week.

Following its decision to abandon the academic year, the UPNG council voted to dissolve the SRC constitution, effectively scuttling the representational powers of the student executive.