To'abaita Authority for Research & Development (TARD)

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Delay in payment of SIG sponsored students allowance at USP cause headache for Solomons' future leaders

Continuous delays by the Solomon Islands government in payment of book and maintenance allowances for SIG sponsored students at USP's Laucala Campus in Suva, Fiji is now becoming an issue of concern for the students.

According to the Solomon Islands Student Association (SISA) Secretary, Matilda Dani, USP is now into its third day of lectures and students are still without text books and other basic study materials. With that, some of the students’ greatest concern is that course materials are slowly running out. To wait for new orders by the USP Book centre will take another couple of weeks.

Ms Dani also says the Halls of Residence are now giving a deadline of Friday 3rd August for Solomon Islands Government (SIG) sponsored students residing on campus to pay up their bills. Failure to do so will result in students vacating their respective rooms.

"However, to find accommodation off-campus students will also need a substantial amount of money to pay for bond as well as rent. Right now, students are experiencing accommodation problems since the landlords are also demanding students to pay up the bonds before moving in a house."

Ms Dani adds that the latest update on allowance as of last week according to the National Training Unit was that, there was shortage of funds to accommodate for SIG Laucala Campus students. Therefore, there is still an uncertainty as of when the students will receive their semester two allowances.

It is understood the SIG students received their first semester allowances at the end of week three and four respectively, which realistically is very late considering the logistics of students' wellbeing in a country like Fiji where everything is money.

In the past, the arrangement was that the university pay students their book and maintenance allowances within the first two weeks of lectures and later bill the total costs to respective regional member countries. However, as of this year that arrangement has ceased leaving it the sole responsibility of sponsors and governments to pay their students' allowances directly. After getting the lump sum, students would have to pay for their books and bills either on campus or off-campus.

As a result, life would be very difficult for students if their allowances are not paid as urgently as possible. With the current situation at USP, where Solomon Islands has the second largest number of students (around 700) after Fiji, the SIG sponsored students are usually the only ones who always arrived late and received their allowances very late compared to all the other smaller regional member countries who send their students to Fiji.

When one wonders about the continuous occurance of such a problem, we can only conclude that some people within the respective authorities are not doing their jobs. It is also very sad and seemingly irregular that the government continues to send more new students to a foreign land afar when it is fully aware that there is not enough funds to meet their allowances on time. A question that needs to be resolved is that "Why do respective authorities continue to treat our future leaders and assets like that?

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