The Papua New Guinea (PNG) University of Technology (UNITECH) admits students into its different academic programs after they complete year 12 of their education. The students must perform well to meet the entry requirements of the university. In December 2009, I accompanied 12 other selectors from the 12 academic departments of this university to Port Moresby (capital of PNG) for the selection of the grade 12 students. Each academic department has its own selection criteria. For my department, the students had to score a B (75%) or better in English and perform reasonably well in other core subjects. The total applicants in this program (Communication for Development) were 54 of which only 18 students were accepted.
Although 9 other students performed fairly well, I could not fit them into my selection list because of space limitations. The selection quota given by the university administration was 15 but 3 additional students were selected because they performed so well that it was difficult not to give them an opportunity. Sadly, 36 students were not selected and if they were not selected in their second and third choices, which was most likely, they would join Papua New Guinea’s long queue of school leavers wandering around the streets of the country.
The orientation and registration, which was held in February this year, was to welcome the new students whom the university has selected for this academic year (2010). This orientation and registration program is an important part of the university’s academic calendar to introduce new students to the university’s academic and administration activities and the general lifestyle. It is indeed the beginning of a new chapter in the life of the students. Here the students are introduced to the new academic environment, which some may not have dreamt of when they first entered formal school.
After the students were introduced to the university, they were asked to go to their respective departments for department orientation and registration. For the students in the Communication for Development program, plans have been put in place to welcome the new students. They began with the students” registering of their subject for the first and the second semesters of the 2010 academic year. The students in this program are not given a choice of subjects because the department has already structured the courses for them. Whether they like it or not, they must register for these subjects because the courses are carefully selected and designed for a particular job market after they graduate.
In the department orientation the students were told about the academic activities as well as the expected standards of behaviour and their general conduct not only in the department but the university as a whole. They were told to commit their time and effort to studies and give of their best because that best will come back to them after their studies.
Entering the university for the first time is the beginning of a new chapter for the new students. This year is the beginning of that chapter which will close after their 4 years of studying for the Bachelor of Technology in Communication for Development. This chapter will compose of their academic and other social activities. What had to be told about the university was told. It is up to the students to commit and dedicate their time and energy to studying and to behaving well to realise their hopes, expectations, desires and dreams. The closing chapter of their academic life will reflect how they have conducted their studies and behaviour at this department and the university.