Press Statement from WPU Chairman

11th June, 2021

This formal press statement is a follow up to my last press release published after my visit to the Western Pacific University (WPU). In terms of physical infrastructure development, it continues to be a work in progress but, as Council members have already seen, the planning, the rules, academic and nonacademic policies surpass those of most other tertiary educational entities in PNG and throughout the South Pacific since they are benchmarked against the best practices in the global higher education sector.

On 24 April 2013, by virtue of its decision 299/2013, the National Executive Council (NEC) approved the establishment of a new national university in Ialibu/Pangia District in the Southern Highlands Province. Over the course of the next eighteen months the Government’s response to the NEC’s decision took shape:

The University was established by Act of Parliament in 2014 and represents a major impact project initiated by the previous Government to address longstanding access issues faced by the higher and technical education sector in its struggle to cope with the exponential influx of GradeTwelve (12) students seeking their right to tertiary education. It therefore became imperative to address the urgent needs of human resource capacity building in Papua New Guinea.

The current PNG Government recognised the causal relationship between access to higher education, human development and societal improvement in the belief that sustained, targeted, investment in tertiary education would lead to economic growth and social advancement.

Aerial Picture of WPU Campus.  Dormitories & Student Mess Red Roofs, Administration, recreation, staff houses in blue roofs

Western Pacific University is established on customary land adjacent to Ialibu Township (Koromi) and the construction of the University commenced in June 2017. The project plan included the scope of works; bill of quantities; risk management plan and process; service agreement templates; finance and administration system; technical specifications and drawings.

In three short years, despite all the challenges this project has faced, WPU has managed to construct the University and admit its first students, due to the remarkable leadership given by Professor Jan Czuba and his management team.  As Chairman of the Council, together with my fellow Council Members, we need to congratulate Professor Jan Czuba and trust we will continue to see the entire project come to its full fruition without any further political interference which, as you are all aware, is causing a great deal of concern.

On 20 November 2019 the ‘Aid Project on Western Pacific University of Papua New Guinea (Self-Built Mode) Implementation Minutes’ were signed by Mr Liu Linlin, Economic and China (PRoC), Mr Koney Samuel, the Secretary for National Planning and Monitoring and Professor Fr Jan Czuba, Secretary for Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology.

Sir Peter Meeting with Academic Staff in Board Room of WPU Campus

The Government of the People’s Republic of China and WPU reached an agreement for the scope of work to be carried out and the provisions of grant. Thorough due diligence was taken throughout the negotiations of this grant prior to the signing of the minutes. This funding from the Government of the People’s Republic of China, as agreed by both parties, will be used for: one lecture complex building; one fully digitalised library, three student dormitories, six staff houses to a total value of Kina 38 million. Those buildings will add value and support the ongoing creation of an outstanding learning and teaching environment in which to deliver quality digital education.

Student state-of-the-art Classroom

In common with all other universities in Papua New Guinea, WPU is a self-accrediting higher education institution and its academic programs have therefore been approved by the University.  WPU’s  Foundation Year was developed through partnership with the University of New England to ensure that WPU is not only meeting national standards but also international academic standards. The bachelor programs were developed with the University of Information Technology and Management through a Memorandum of Cooperation between both Universities.

The National Higher Technical Education Board (NHTEB) has the power to recognise or deny registration or accreditation of academic programs approved by a University. The NHTEB, during its Board Meeting no#03/2020 on 7 December 2020, deliberated on the WPU Foundation Year and permitted trial of this program for implementation and will, in due course, review the following Bachelor programs: International Business Management (BA); E-Business and Digital Marketing (BA) and Computer Science (ENG) (Engineering BA in Computer Science). Similarly, all the academic and non-academic policies that have been developed meet the national standards for quality assurance and are benchmarked against the international standards developed in partnership with both of the universities mentioned above.

I also had the opportunity to speak with WPU’s pioneer students who had recently embarked on their introduction to Moodle (the online Learning Management System) that is utilised by WPU.  Without exception, they were all very happy to be at WPU.

Students working on their computers in the lecture rooms

WPU’s philosophy of education is expressed in its logo, which symbolises a genuine mind that opens the way to new knowledge to invent a future. The logo therefore does not have frames. Within this logo, the University's Latin motto is clear: Pro Deo et Patria ‘For God and Country'.

Students & Staff of WPU

The bird of paradise and colours blue and gold are vital University identifiers, portraying the unifying brand element across a very culturally diverse country and the University’s determination to be a unifying factor in the country.  

Western Pacific University is also a testament to the Department of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology’s (DHERST) commitment to the roll-out of the i-PNG strategy of creating a network of closely linked higher education institutions through digitalisation, with each institution providing access and quality through digital education service delivery.

On this note, the Chairman and the University Council of Western Pacific University would like to thank DHERST for facilitating this project, and particularly Professor Fr Jan Czuba and the former Secretary, Professor David Kavanamur for providing exceptional leadership. We would also like to extend our gratitude to the Department of National Planning and Monitoring, Department of Treasury and the Department of Finance for their guidance and support in the process of establishing Western Pacific University.

Whilst the campus continues to build its infrastructure and prepare to receive future cohorts of students, upon its completion we look forward to being the first fully digitalised University in Papua New Guinea. We are proud of our well qualified academic and non-academic staff and look forward to enrolling our second cohort of students for the 2022 academic year.

In closing, I would like to congratulate the current and former Government for their foresight in establishing WPU which has set a new benchmark in higher education in PNG.

Authorised by Sir Peter Barter, PhD (Hon) GCL, Kt, OBE

Chairman of the Western Pacific University Council