On May 15th 2020, James Marape, the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea launched the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP). The project aims to provide higher education students in the country with the opportunity to obtain a preferred loan (with no interest and limited capital indexing) to cover the costs of the tuition, board and accommodation. Repayment of the loan would commence when students commence work and reach a certain revenue threshold. HELP would be available to all the students in tertiary education from single-year certificate programmes through three-year diploma programs to full bachelor and postgraduate programmes.

The system is launched in cooperation between the Department of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (DHERST) and higher education institutions across the country. The HEIs staff members will provide local support for the applicants as the student data officers (SDOs).

PCG Academia has delivered within two months an online HELP module based on Uni10, a student-centred higher education management system.  The software allows SDOs to issue the students’ credentials, confirm their identity and oversee the signing of the loan contract. Students have to check the data, run loan simulation and familiarise them with the contract before applying for the loan. Loan officers at DHERST then consider the applications and approve the contracts.

The Coronavirus crisis enforced both the DHERST and the PCG Academia teams to work remotely on the last stage of the module design and its implementation and roll-out and also remote participation in the launching ceremony. It worked very well, except for the sharing of HELP cake at the end of the ceremony.

You may view the whole launching ceremony here: