Secretary For Department of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (DHERST) Clarifies Student Online Selection



This post is the exact extract of  the Secretary  of the Department of Higher Education, Science and Technology (DHERST), FR JAN CZUBA’s press statement as it appeared on the National newspaper Monday 31st Dec 2018.

Some parents and students query online selection . Allow me to clarify some matters. On Dec 13, 2018, we all witnessed a historic event in the development of the higher education sector in Papua New Guinea. It was the first in the country online selection of students for higher education institutions (HEIs) when no one had to travel to Port Moresby for selection. After 35 seconds, the National Online Selection System (NOSS) selected based on automated matching processed 8597 students to 10, 455 different academic programs.

DHERST (Department of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology) or my ministry are not selecting and enrolling students at institutions of higher learning. If parents wish to clarify such issues related to selection and enrollment, they should directly contact the institution. The Ministry and the department only facilitate the enrollment process, so that selection of students is made transparently. A significant number of higher education institutions changed their program requirement and quota throughout the application process to ensure that they get the best students.

We respect the autonomy of of those institutions, and they have the right to set up criteria to ensure that their students reach the highest academic competencies during their studies.  This resulted in a few students with good GPA not being selected. Please note that GPA is not only single requirement considered as a factor in program selection ranking. Some selectors at institutions of higher learning this includes universities used complex ranking order in the round of selections.

Forty percent (40%) of students did not select in their application the possibility to be moved forward into different programs if not selected. Last years national selections, we choose 100%. This was mainly because the NOSS automatically picked good students regardless of choice into the empty spaces. In 2017, all grade 12 students checked this option. This year (2018) the difference was that students had a choice (what we call back-up choices) which study program they wanted to be selected to if they were not selected into their top five (5) choices. Only 60% of students made use of this backu up choice. Thus we could not select those who did not choose this option.

This year, grade 12 marks were not properly standardized, and academic quality of grade 12 students was low. We have noted that grade 12 marks did not have a proper spread with the majority of students having the marks at the lower range of Cs and Ds. Thus more students  than anticipated did not meet the minimum admission requirements set by selectors.

Broader issue at hand is undoubtedly the quality of grade 12 students coming out of our national education system (Grade 1-12). In anticipation of the possible non-selected students, we developed a concept of the ‘Admissions Pool’. This pool is essentially a list of students (ranked in order of higher academic performance to low) who have not been selected but meet the minimum admission requirements of study program. All selectors can access this pool within the national online selection system and manually fill in their spaces. The Admission Pool is also a response to HEIs admitting students during registration period when a selected student didn’t show up. The admission pool allows DHERST also to verify these students as they are chosen after the national selections. Looking ahead, there is another thing we will do to fill up the non-selected students. Next year, we will make it mandatory for all applicants to fill in the backup choices before finalizing the application process. In

June 2018, during a conference with the secondary school principals, a total of 148 principals activated their online accounts and registered 348 patrons.  Those principals and patrons were able to support and monitor their students online applications in real-time through their respective online accounts. At the beginning of June 2018, we also sent invitation letters to 26,718 students who registered.

The Measurement Services Division (MSD) provided the department with a list of the final results on which we had 26,718 students. Students results were made available to them in the system at 8:00 am on December 9. Within 70 hours of a grace period (from 8 am Sunday till 6 pm on Wednesday), 22,411 students were able to view the choices and make the required changes. It is important to note that 11,221 students changed their choices within this time. This led to much improvement of eligibility of choices done before the exam results were known. For the first time, students and parents were able to advise themselves appropriately and to make the right decision.On Sunday, Dec 9, we had 63,000 available choices at the end of the grade period 9021 students made their choices from 14,740. Remaining students had too low exam results to meet the requirements of any programs.

Unfortunately, GPA is not the single requirement considered as a factor in program selection and ranking. Selectors at Institutions of Higher Learning, this includes universities used complex ranking order in the round of selections. Thus some students with good GPA could not be selected. All additional criteria which HEIs used were available to students.

For each student, we created an email address and password so they could check by themselves if they were selected or not. Those email addresses and passwords will be active till the end of March 2019 so students would know if HEIs select them from the admission pool.

This is the first time that students and parents have transparent system for selection and enrollment. We appreciate disappointments of some students that they were not selected with good GPA. At the same time, we must acknowledge those students will have better GPA and met the additional criteria set up by higher education institutions (HEIs). The only advice the minister and the department can give to those students who miss out to personally approach higher education institutions and seek re-enrollment if possible from the admission pool.

The minister or the department has no authority at all to select all and roll students. This is the function of the HEIs. It must be noted that the department had done everything that was possible we carried on awareness via media, we visited all high schools and provided in house training for students, principles and guidance officers in those high schools to ensure they fully appreciate the online selection. We also produced a handbook to guide students during the selection process.