|Subject: Unitech students' petition - problems brewing?
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Date Posted: 01:08:38 03/18/00 Sat
Is this the beginning of another rough year for students? When TESAS - the new student financial support scheme - was introduced at the end of last year, someone suggested that it was strategic in that the proposers did not want to face another student unrest at that time and that it would give enough time for parents and students to begin to prepare the required fees before the academic year.
Now that the students have brought it up, it appears that consultation with all relevant stakeholders did not take place, or if it did, it was rather limited to those who would have not much to lose from the decision and something to gain such as the colleges and universities themselves.
It appears that some advisors would rather take the short cut and deal with the consequences as they arise. If this is part of planning, it would seem that in the calculations of benefit/cost approach, the planners' estimates may have considered the introduction of TESAS at the particular point in time within the limited consultative processes as generating more benefits than its cost.
One of the costs that planners might have decided to wear out is the possibility of another year of academic disruption for many serious students. I hope the student disruption has been planned for and the Minister would respond appropriately. One response that I would not want to see is the total shelving of the new scheme as happened sometime back with the introduction of the user-pays policy.
On the other hand, there's validity in the argument that results from the immediate past (last year) should not be used for the determination of fees for individual students because the new system was not announced prior to exams and evaluation last year. I think, only after the announcement of the policy, the new set of guidelines for student performance can be applied with some sense of fairness. In a situation of limited data base on individual student and family economic and social profiles, the simple averaging would appear to do more injustice to individual students who honestly need help.
At the same time, looking at the overall education levels, tertiary students are getting much greater deals than their counterparts in primary and secondary levels.
Unitech students petition Waiko to defer TESAS
STUDENTS at the University of Technology in Lae yesterday presented a petition to Education Minister Dr John Waiko demanding him to defer the Tertiary
Education Study Assistance Scheme (TESAS) for a year.
Student leaders from the university met Dr Waiko in his office in Port Moresby for two hours to explain their position on TESAS before handing over the
TESAS was introduced by the government early this year to replace the National Scholarship (NATCHOL) Scheme, and is meant to have a progressive
grading system for students depending on how well they perform.
But the students leaders say TESAS has an unfair grading system, is discriminatory against students from rural or poor background, and for it to be
effectively implemented it needed to be deferred for more debate and variation.
Spokesman and Student Representative Council president Lawrence N'drombut said their university's administration, following discussions, allowed all
students at the start of the year to pay a minimum of K375 while the issue of TESAS was taken up with the government.
The students have until June 9 to achieve what they are seeking in the petition, or face the realities TESAS offers.
Mr N'drombut said under its point system, Unitech's cut off point is set at 65 per cent. Those above this point pay fees from K150 to K1050, while those
below it pay between K3,750 and K7,500.
Only five students at the university qualify to pay only K150, while the bulk is spread over the rest, he said.
Mr N'drombut said the government sprang a surprise on them by introducing TESAS, and assessing how students qualified from last year's examination
"We returned to school early this year thinking that NATCHOL fees were going to be applied. What's worse, they introduce this and categorise us from our
results last year, which is unfair."
He said with TESAS' tough grading system, students needed to be informed a year or two in advance, so they know how tough it is and strive to avoid the
cut off points.
The students have given Minister Waiko until March 23 to respond to their petition.
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