Students square off with UP president


BAGUIO CITY — “Yes to better UP, no to tuition and other fee increases!”

This was the call of the students of the University of the Philippines Baguio as they come face to face to the state university president last August 29 during an informal dialog in the campus here.

According to Student Council chairperson John Silverio Saligbon, UP is supposed to be for the Filipino masses but the tuition and other fee increases (TOFI) is showing otherwise thus, is anti-poor.

The university Board of Regents (BoR), the highest policy-making body of the whole UP system approved the TOFI in 2006 with the 100% increase in tuition bloating it from P300 two years ago to P600 per unit last school-year. TOFI was implemented for the incoming freshmen last year.

Students, however, point out the increases in miscellaneous fees went as high as 300%.

UP President Emerlinda Roman said aside from the TOFI there is an automatic yearly tuition increase based on the country’s inflation rate, which the university started to implement also last year.


SQUARE OFF. University of the Philippines President Emerlinda Roman (Left) faced the students of UP Baguio in a dialog to clear issues on the state university’s fee increases. Photo by Cye Reyes/NORDIS

“For this school year, we did not implement this automatic increase because we also considered the economic hardship of the people,” said Roman.

She also cited TOFI is not fully implemented yet thus not fully maximized for the university’s other financial needs.

According to Roman, the BoR is also currently studying the university’s socialized tuition under its system-wide Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP) where more affluent students pay more than the less fortunate ones.

“Also through this program, funds from campuses that have more collection are shared with other campuses,” said Roman.

Meanwhile, UP Baguio Chancellor Priscilla Supnet-Macansantos said it is not expected for the majority of the students to favor these increases and that the school officials could only do so much.

“Mahal talaga mag-aral,” (It is really expensive to study), she said eliciting adverse reactions from students.

Government subsidy

Roman said education should be fully subsidized by the government as mandated by the constitution but in reality it is not given any priority.

According to the Philippine constitution the government should prioritize the education sector in the budget allocation. At present, bulk of the government’s budget is allocated to debt servicing.

“Most of the education budget goes to the basic education and the higher education sector gets only 13%, which continues to decrease every year,” said Roman adding that 112 state colleges and universities (SCU) share this meager budget.

Saligbon on the other hand said the BoR should assert increases in the education budget especially for SCUs by submitting a petition to the House of Representatives for consideration during budget hearings.

“Sirang plaka”

Meanwhile, some students were disappointed with the dialog because according to them Roman and other school officials keep telling them the same old stories.

“It is like listening to a ‘sirang plaka’ where the song keeps on playing,” said Michelle Santos of Anakbayan UP Baguio.

“We want action and not just excuses for justifying the increases in school fees,” added Santos.

Roman and other members of the BoR were in the city to meet and discuss different issues of the state university. # Cye Reyes (NorDis)

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