OFFICE OF THE FACULTY REGENT
University of the Philippines System
Vinzons Hall Basement, Diliman, Quezon City
Telephone No. 981-8500 loc 4511 or 4512
A DISSENTING VOTE TO THE 300%
TUITION FEE INCREASE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES
Roland G. Simbulan
Professor and Faculty Regent,
As Faculty Regent of the University of the Philippines System, I join my faculty colleagues in the U.P. Academic Employees’ Union, the All UP Workers’ Union and the students in the various U.P. campuses in rejecting the proposed 300% tuition fee increase at the University of the Philippines. I know that the U.P. Faculty is divided over this issue. I take this stand after evaluating both the De Dios Committee Report on the Tuition Fee Structure, and the Atanacio Committee Report that reviewed the STFAP program, for re-bracketing.
As I have previously stated in past statements on the matter, I am not absolutely against tuition fee increase per se. In fact, I have supported and voted for specific proposals for tuition fee increases which I have evaluated in our graduate programs in the Board of Regents. As records of the BOR would show, I have also voted on a case-to-case basis, in favor of laboratory fees in some of our units. But there are four critical issues that have made me decide to take a dissenting vote on the controversial 300% tuition fee increase, as proposed by both the De Dios and Atanacio Committee Reports.
1. What is the nature of a State-subsidized University?
The State University is like a child to its parents, the national government. It is the moral responsibility of the parent to raise the child and assume the moral obligation to support. It cannot tell the child to work for its subsistence, or to reduce its dependence on it because it has other priorities. This moral obligation of a parent to support and raise its child need not be enshired in any Constitution, or legislation.
Will not exhorbitant and successive increases of tuition fees in U.P. not change the character of U.P. as a state university? Already, U.P.’s No. 1 income earner is tuition constituting more than a third of the total income that it generates annually from all sources. Increasing this dramatically may make the State reduce its annual subsidy to the premier university. For already, 84% of expenditures for personnel services (PS) comes from the national budget, while only 14% remains for Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE). Since U.P. can now improve its financial situation with a series of tuition fee increases, it may in the future be encouraged to increase it more and more, while the national government reduces its share. I am afraid that this tuition fee increase will not be the last but the first of successive increases in the future, ostensibly to cope with inflation and to maintain the university’s standards. The real reason for this may be to stabilize the finances of the University in the light of the State’s budgetary cuts or abandonment of its obligation to the State University.
2. Do U.P. students still deserve to be subsidized by Filipino taxpayers?
I am concerned that U.P. is becoming a University for the elite, and this will become more of the ruled as it increases its basic tuition fees now and in the coming years, and if we do nothing about the present admissions system.
The percentage of students in the biggest campuses who belong to the upper income brackets are increasing, whole those from the lower brackets are decreasing. It is only in the regional UP units that there are more UP students from the lower brackets. Meanwhile, also, a large percentage of students who pass the UPCAT but never show up shows that it is because of financial difficulties. At the present tuition rates, faculty members have observed lower income students experiencing financial difficulties. This means that poor students who do manage to enter UP still face the uncertainty of finishing their studies because they cannot afford the tuition and other daily expenses that coming to school entails. Faculty members who have been witness to these occurrences say it is among the most heart-breaking experiences in the university as they are helpless to prevent these. More and more students from upper income brackets are able to get into U.P., and in fact, have better chances of getting into U.P. under the UPCAT examinations.
Should rich U.P. students be subsidized at all or even partially, because even if they are made to pay the full amount under the proposals, they would still be paying only one third of the actual cost of their education? Should UP not fix its admission system so that it will not militate against the lower income sections of the Philippine population? Shouldn’t UP’s admissions policies not be biased against the rich?
This brings us to the question of the UP’s admissions policy using the UPCAT as an entry point.
3. Should the admissions policy through the U.P. College
Admissions Test (UPCAT) not be revised to favor the poor but deserving students?
Basic education should be improved so that those poor but deserving coming from the public school system will have better chances to go to U.P. The present admissions policy of U.P. should be revised to make it biased in favor of the lower-income students. If UP were to accept only valedictorians and salutatorians from all public and private schools as the pool from which at least 80% of those admitted would come from, then this would assure that the greater majority of UP students would still come from those deserving to be subsidized.
4. Is the 300% increase for incoming U.P. students justified?
By any standards, it is too exhorbitant to increase tuition by
300% for incoming freshmen. This sets a bad precedent for possibly future increases. Why not a staggered increase over a few years? I hope that the proposals are not being strategized to begin with the incoming freshman because the administration would like to divide the students. Neither should it be seen as aiming to encourage apathy since current U.P. students are not supposed to be concerned at all because it will not directly affect them.
Deriving more income from the vast land assets of the University should be the primordial concern of our university’s financial managers. The U.P. has 1,450 hectares of land that it can tap for commercial land leases or partnerships. This is why I fully supported the Commonwealth Science and Technology Park Project which was leased for a 25-year period to Ayala Lands, Inc., because I did not want the University to be deprived of its much needed income.
Changing the Character of the State University
My primordial concern is that if our University were to depend more and more of its much-needed income—which has been denied by the State—on tuition fees, especially from our undergraduate students, soon we will be no different from the private schools. And U.P. will have really lost its character, and soul, as a State University.
The date posted here is due to our website rebuild, it does not reflect the original date this article was posted. This article was originally posted in Yonip in Dec 28th 2006