UPNG officers suspended, Interim Council probing cash for grades claims

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Two officers of the University of PNG’s information and communication technology department have been suspended while investigation into cash-for-grades allegations are conducted, according to chancellor Robert Igara.

Igara, also the university’s interim council chairman, said the two were suspended on full pay for one month.

“In making this decision, the interim council re-affirms the statement I have made that the allegations against both staff members are from anonymous sources, and no statements with supporting evidence have been provided to the University on the allegations,” he said.

“Their suspension therefore is intended to allow a proper investigation and audit to be carried out.”

He said the university would identify and seek the prosecution of those who had abused their positions, plus the university’s policies and procedures.

“We acknowledge that clear evidence of actions taken by the university is the most effective way of regaining trust and confidence, and enhancing (its) integrity,” Igara added.

A recent social media post claimed that the ICT department had been selling grades to students since 2014.

Igara said the interim council, on the recommendation of Vice Chancellor Frank Griffin, appointed Lote Lisania, the acting university librarian, as acting director of UPNG’s ICT department.

Igara said the interim council exercised its powers, under the UPNG Act 1983, to take direct supervisory oversight over the management of student admissions, academic marking and grading, academic transcripts and records, and admissions for certificates and degrees.

The interim council also appointed a sub-committee chaired by the Chancellor and chairman of the council, consisting of Pro-Chancellor Goiye Gileng, council and senate member Peter Eafeare, council members Ansca Parkop, Charlie Gilichibi and Gerea Aopi “to perform this direct oversight”, he said.

Igara said the interim council also resolved to activate its special investigation task force chaired by Benny Popoitai with Thomas Eluh as his deputy.

The task force will investigate cases involving allegations and findings of individual misconduct in the university’s student admissions, marking and grading, academic records, and awards of certificates and degrees.

To address the systemic and systematic weaknesses, risks and threats to the university’s academic, management and governance, the interim council resolved to establish an independent audit to look into student admissions academic marking, grading academic records and transcripts and award of certificates or degrees. Igara said the interim council also welcomed the invitation of the chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Education, Benjamin Mul to the university to appear before the committee.