Higher Education Loan Program (HELP), the government of Papua New Guinea’s new initiative aimed at enhancing access to quality tertiary education . HELP addresses the increasing number of students unable to access post-secondary education due to a lack of financial resources. HELP provides for all eligible higher education students an income contingent loan with zero-based interest. Loan repayments commence once the students graduate and on commencement of paid employment.
NEC Decision on HELP And First Batch of Students Loans.
HELP loans were first issued to eligible students on 15th May 2020 , following earlier landmark policy initiatives of the Marape Government formalized in NEC Decision 179/2019.
In the short time available and given the scope and complexity of the scheme it has been a remarkable achievement in simply establishing the regulatory arrangements for the HELP program.
DHERST acknowledges the excellent whole-of-government coordination and support received from other agencies in bringing the HELP program on stream so promptly and so efficiently through cross-agency support from our colleagues in Finance, Treasury, State Solicitor, First Legislative Counsel, Personnel Management and IRC; and off course the many DHERST staff working closely with the management and staff of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and potential applicants to successfully implement the program.
Rapid start-up and the issuance of Loans in response to the government directions was made possible via DHERST’S i-PNG digitalization strategy linking all post-secondary institutions into a diverse network with the aim of increasing access and participation; and improving self-reliance.
“I opted to apply for HELP because we are large family, my parents could not afford all our fees and as elder in the family, I thought of fending on my own” (Mollen, 2020)
Parim Mek, from the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, doing his fifth year medical studies at the University of Papua New Guinea; and Ere Sapen, a second year Rural Health of Divine Word University. Both Parim and Sapen described the Higher Education Loan Program as a ‘great relief ‘ to their parents who are simple subsistence farmers.
“This initiative has greatly helped us and our friends who are doing tertiary studies, to meet the high cost of tertiary education.”
Two aspiring male and female primary school teachers, Ramin Desmond and Kohoraso Zital, from East New Britain Province and attended Kabaleo Teacher’s College. They described how thrilled they were to benefit from HELP in completing their studies in 2020.
“The application process was quite straight forward and we had no difficulty apply for HELP assistance in the final year of our studies. We have now happily graduated and are eager to commence repaying our zero interest loans as soon as we commence employment in the New Year.”
In future Newsletter editions DHERST will bring you more expansive human interest student profiles on the impact of HELP in providing greater access to higher education for many students who had imagined a tertiary qualification was beyond them.
Coming Soon-Post Graduate Roll-Out of HELP Application and Selection Cycle.
The 2020 roll-out of the HELP program focused on undergraduate students. DHERST is currently in the process of preparing the 2021 roll-out which will include the Post Graduate component of the HELP program. Intending candidates for the HELP postgraduate component are advised to watch the media for further information.
HELP Application and Selections 2021
In the second year of roll out, the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) will be available both the undergraduate and postgraduate students.
To be eligible for this loan from the government, the student must:
- Be a citizen of Papua New Guinea
- Enrolled in an institution registered under DHERST
- Must study a program accredited by the National Higher and Technical Education Board (NHTEB)
The NHTEB is the accrediting body operating under the DHERST. All students applying for the HELP must meet the above requirements in order to proceed to the next step, which is completing the declaration form.
Enhancing the digitalization of education in the higher education sector, the HELP application is done online. Once the students are enrolled and declared interest to apply for HELP, further assistance can be sought from the Registrar’s or Student Finance Offices at their respective higher education institution. Students are also advised to check
https://web.dherst.gov.pg/help for updates on the Higher Education Loan Program.
HELP Application Timeline 2021
1: January –April 2021
- Declaration of forms issued by HEIs to interested tertiary students
- Students sign declaration forms
- Declaration forms collected
2: May 2021
- HELP online App launched
- SDO Accounts created
- SDOs conform student details
3 June 2021
- Students receive credentials
- Students apply for HELP
- First Semester installments paid out.
Declaimer: This article is an exact extract from DHERST Quarterly Newsletter, December 2020, Volume 3|Issue 4 pp.7.Released to the public media on Friday December 18th 2020