Overview of How the DHERST Grade 12 Selection into Universities and Colleges Work.

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In 2021 (last year) there were 26,554 Grade 12 students from 206 secondary schools around the country (this includes the four National High Schools or National School of Excellence-Kerevat, Passam, Port Moresby National High, Wawin and Sogeri.). Out of the total around 9862 students were selected to tertiary institutions.  This represents 37% selection and 63% missed out (16,692). Out of that 6319 students are kind of on the Higher Higher Education Institutions (HEI’s ) waiting list. This means if any selected student does not turn up for registration for various reasons, then institutions can use this list (known as Quota to Be Filled from National Admission Pool). The rest 10,372 students missed out completely.

Figure 1-2022 Selection Results from DHERST Online System.

See the full video on DHERST 2022 online Selection session by DHERST Minister .

Also, note that there will not be many students rejecting their selections and this means, number of admissions by institutions form the waiting list will be minimal out of the 6319 students.

Another interesting factor is the total selected includes those selected to Private Institutions like International Training Institute (ITI), Institute of Banking and Business Management (IBBM) and etc. These was evident in the selection list for 2021 selection list. The students admitted to these private institutions does not qualify for DHERST Government Scholarship scheme so they will be admitted as Self-Sponsored students. This will further reduce the lower the total selected total of 9862 students as indicated on the online selection result.

There are many factors attributing to this high number of students missing out of selection every year. In article, we discuss the overview of the DHERST Selection system so that parents and students can have at least a fair idea of how it works so they can better prepare themselves when their kids or students do their Year 11 and year 12.

Program Selection Is Predetermined at Grade 11 and Grade 12 Subjects in Secondary School.

The most important thing every secondary student and parents should be aware is that their program selection pathway is already determined by the Subject Selections in Year 11 and Year 12.  According to the National Education Department website, Upper Secondary School (Grade 11 and Grade 12) has 31 subjects from 5 subject fields. Students are to select and study 5 subjects out of the 31 subjects.

1-Any Language   (Applied Language or Language and Literature)

  1. Any Mathematics (General Mathematics or Advance Mathematics)
  2. Any subject (science/humanities/technical)
  3. Any subject (science/humanities/technical)
  4. Any subject (Science/Humanities/Technical)
  5. Personal Development or Religious Education

Download full subject listing or visit PNG Dept of Education website.

Selection of subjects in the Science/Humanities/Technical subject areas is crucial in Grade 11 and Grade 12. This is because tertiary institutions will set their Entry Requirements based on Subjects they require to be taken by Grade 11 and Grade 12 which matches their program structure.  Here is an example of Entry Requirements for UPNG School Natural and Physical Sciences (SNPS) for their Science Foundation Year (First Year) on the  UPNG Website:

Admission to the academic programmes is very competitive and potential students are requested to read this section very carefully. All the interested applicants of undergraduate programmes of the School will apply for the “Science Foundation Year” Programme.

 Minimum Eligibility Criteria:

 To apply, applicants must fulfill the following minimum eligibility criteria:

 Have graduated or will be graduating in 2018 with a valid Grade 12 certificate, and/or equivalent.

Have obtained:

“B” or better grade in Advanced Mathematics

“B” or better grade in Language & Literature [or] Applied English

“B” or better grade in Science Subjects (Biology, Chemistry & Physics)

Minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.0.

Here is what is says:

  1. Students can take either Language & Literature or Applied English but sore must be above B Grade
  2. For Mathematics they accept only Students who do Advanced Mathematics and score is B or better
  3. Science Subjects it’s the Biology, Chemistry & Physics

Note here, the subjects for selection in Science Subjects for Grade 12 are as follows:

Science: Applied Science, Biology, Chemistry, Geology, Physics, Applied Natural Resource Management (Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries and Applied Natural Resource Management – combination of all three)

Since, Grade 12 students are to select 3 subjects from Science/Humanities/Technical and Business subject areas,  the students have a choice. If the students want to apply for Science Foundation Year at UPNG, then, they must choose Biology, Chemistry and Physics from the science courses. If he/she misses any of these on his/her subject selection, then he/she will not have a fair chance of selection.

So it is important that parents and students need to sit together and discuss student’s career aspirations, which tertiary institution they prefer to attend and programs of their interest. Parents need to listen to the student first without dominating the discussion from a parental point of view. Once the parent and student agreed on the pathway, then do research and gather the entry requirements form the particular program of interest from the institution. Remember, this research has to happen in Year 10 or Year 11 NOT during Grade 12.

With the research information, the student can then do the subject selection in Grade 12. The subject selection must be based around the 1st and 2nd choice entry requirements of the program.

Entry Requirement Information Sources

Below are some possible sources to look for entry requirement information.

Institution’s websites.

All the major universities have websites. Almost all the Technical Colleges, Business Colleges, and Teachers Colleges don’t seem to have websites in the time of this article. But alternatively, look for their Facebook pages.  If the information provided on the website or Facebook pages are limited. Then get their contact email addresses or phone numbers and contact them to send the entry requirements for the specific program.

Attend Provincial Education Career Expos

If the provincial education department hosts Education Career Expos, attend them. Parents must make an attempt to attend them and speak to the institutional representatives and get much needed information. Don’t leave it to the child to get the information. Kids are often shy to ask important questions and talk representatives in public and open events or they are busy meeting their friends and take it as leisure event. So, parents it’s your responsibility to get the key information during such events.

Provincial Education Office

Sometimes, key information like the entry requirements can be sourced from the Provincial Education Office.

Talk to  Principals and Senior Teachers at School.

Visit the school and ask for entry requirement information from the school Principals and Senior Teachers. They often attend important meetings and have access to relevant information so ask them if they can help. Principles may even help explain the latest changes in subject selections, entry requirements, DHERST Process and etc.

How GPA IS Set by the Higher Learning Institutions

The key measurement used when selecting students is Grade Point Average (GPA) . In the example from UPNG School of Science Foundation requirement we saw example earlier is a Minimum of 3.0. The question is how is GPA circulated for selection?

Each of the tertiary institutions have specific academic Departments and specific programs are offered under each department. Example of Departments would be Law, Business, Education, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering and etc. Each Department set their own selection GPA points. First, they pick the specific subjects in the Grade 12 Subject list which relates to each of the programs they offer in their respective Departments. For example, Business Departments will look at the various business subjects, while Science and Engineering Departments may look at the different Science subjects. Then they make a subject required listing.

Then they assign the minimum required grade for each subject. In the example of UPNG Science department it was all B or better, meaning B or A in the required subjects. Then they allocate a grade point for each grade. The grade point is number between 1-5 that equates to the Grade. For example, A = 4, B=3, C=2, D=1

If a student who apply to do UPNG Science Foundation has the following Subjects and Grades on his certificate or Grade 12 Examination NOS result:

  • Advanced English                    B
  • Advanced Mathematics           C
  • Biology                                        B
  • Chemistry                                   A
  • Physics                                        A


GPA    = ( 3 +2 +3 +4 +4 ) / 6

GPA  = 2.6

Important point to note is that the subject listing for each department will normally include the Core Mathematics (General Mathematics and Advanced Mathematics), Language Subjects (Language & Literature and Applied English) and their Department’s core subject requirements.

That is the reason why Grade 12 subject Selection is very important because students can match them with their desired program of choice when comes to filling in their School Leaver Form or (DHERST ONLINE FORM)

The Departments then submit their subject list and the Grade Point for each subject to DHERST to be entered into the National Online Selection (NOS) system from which does the  matching and selection.

Criteria Sets by Tertiary Institutions to DHERST NOS system.

Each Higher Education Institute (HEIs) registered with DHERST submits the following criteria to DHERST

GPA Requirements

The Departments submit their required subject listing with their grade point to DHERST as explained above.

First Year Intake Quota

First Year student selection quota is another important point. Under the recent changes in Education Reform Laws passed in 2020, DHERST will be charge of all Higher Education Institutes (HEIs). Teachers Colleges, Technical Colleges, Business Colleges, National Fisheries College and Highlands Agriculture College which were under National Department of Education, National Fisheries Authority and Dept of Agriculture previously will all come under DHERST.

So DHERST will allocate scholarships to all students attending these institutions. From first year to 4th year students. As such HEIs will be allocated a scholarship quota which will then be divided among the different academic departments. The number of Grade 12 students each institution will take is based on number of programs each HEI offers and the quota set by DHERST and institution’s governing councils.

How each institution gets its quota figure from DHERST  is matter of negotiation between the respective institution and DHERST.

The institutions fill their quota or space through the following:

First Year Intakes-Grade 12

Selected by DHERST through the NOS system.

First Year Intakes -Non-School Leaver Applications

Selection is normally done by respective institutions and students who are enrolled through Non-School Leavers Application are admitted as Self-Sponsored. Later based on their academic performance they can be awarded scholarship by DHERST in the 2nd Year and up.

Other Requirements

Differential Aptitude Test (DAT) –

Maybe set by each institution as a additional intake screening process.


Set by University of Goroka (UOG) and PNG University of Technology (PNGUOT) to further screen their intakes.

Classified Evaluation by Patron 

Normally, provided by Secondary Schools to support DHERST with their selections. May not be applicable with the NOS.

Refer to  list of admission requirements from DHERST 

Scholarship Role of DHERST in the Grade 12 Selections.

The role of DHERST in the whole process is twofold.

1: Administer the selection Grade 12 selection through NOS

As the Department responsible for administering the Government Scholarship Scheme for all students from 1st Year to 4th Year students across all higher learning institutions in the country, it makes sure the students selected are based on merit. To achieve this, it introduced the National Online Selection System (NOS).

2: Scholarship Provider

DHERST provides two types of Scholarships to Tertiary Students. Academic Excellence Scholarship (AES) and High Achieving Grade 12 School Leavers and continuing students. AES for high achieving students and HECAS is for those achieved qualifying GPA scores and above.

The scholarship covers the following

  • Tuition fee/or boarding and lodging Subsidy
  • Travel Allowance
  • Student Resource Allowance
  • Fortnightly Allowance

Download the full TESAS Scholarship handbook from DHERST website.

 Final Note

As the number of Secondary Schools in the country continue to increase the number of students in Grade 12 will increase. The TESAS Scholarship scheme was an inherited schemed when the country has only 4 National High Schools as feeder to the higher learning institutions. DHERST as sole scholarship provider will try its best to to cater for 90% of students from 1st Year to Final Years across all tertiary institutions will surely demand higher budgetary allocation from the National Government. If the budget requests are not met adequately, it will reduce the number of students to cover under the scheme and push a lot of  students out of tertiary education.

One option would be to review the TESAS Scholarship system and cut down some of the areas it covers. For example, cut airfares to and back from institutions back to parents and sponsors to fund and use that money to improve infrastructure capacity at the institutions so more students can be given access to tertiary education. Almost all the Higher Learning Institutions have big campus areas with underutilized land area which can be used for expansion.

See  Need for TEASAS Scholars Review.