UP Mindanao students protest collection of tuition

Aug. 02, 2017

PROTEST IN UP. Protest marks the first day of enrollment in the University of the Philippines in Mindanao Tuesday, Aug. 1 as students express opposition to the collection of school fees in the state university. Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno recently announced that the government cannot afford to provide free college education to students of state colleges and universities. (Photo by Marie Crestie Joie Contrata)

by Rovie Ain Arienza

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Students of the University of the Philippines in Mindanao were taken aback after the school administration announced it will continue to collect tuition a day before the enrollment Sunday, July 30.

On July 28, the UP Mindanao administration issued a memorandum stating that the “assessment and collection of student fees for the First Semester AY 2017-2018 is deferred until instruction from UP System is received.”

However, three days later, the UP Office of the President on Sunday sent a memorandum to the UP Mindanao University Registrar stating the guidelines on tuition and other fees assessment and collection.

The new guideline indicated that students who did not apply for free tuition and socialized tuition (FT + STS) still have to pay depending on the results of Student Financial Assistance (SFA) applications.

Some students held a rally at the lobby of the Administration Building in the UP Mindanao campus on Tuesday, Aug. 1. University Student Council (USC) Chairperson Romen Samuel Wabina said that the guidelines were unclear.

“lIt was earlier announced that students will no longer pay for tuition and other school fees. But around 5 pm yesterday (Sunday), the University Registrar posted new enrollment guidelines which include tuition assessment and collection for STS and non applicants,” Wabina said.

Nicolaine Nicor, a third-year Biology student who applied for STS tuition subsidy said they find the memorandum “misleading.”

“Misleading ang memo na deferred ang tuition at wala ng ibang nakapaloob ng guidelines. Hindi lahat ng mga magulang namin ay maiinntidihan ito at hindi din kamin agad makakapagbayad ng ganoon kalaking pera (The released memo regarding the tuition deferment was misleading. Not all our parents can understand this and we also can’t directly pay that amount of money),” Nicor said.

As of Wednesday, FT + STS applicants are deferred of tuition and other school fee collection, but STS applicants and non applicants are still required to pay until August 25. The SFA results, which includes the STS tuition subsidy, was also released today. However, the UP Mindanao registrar’s office are still currently updating their system.

In an interview, Rojean Romanes, USC Councilor and also an STS applicant said that this only intensified the call of the students for free education.

“Hindi porke’t may kakayahan ang iba na magbayad ay hahayaan na lamang natin itong sistema. Ang edukasyon ay walang katumbas na presyo (We will not allow this kind of system even if we can afford to pay tuition. Education should have no price tag),” said Romanes.

Meanwhile, Kabataan Partylist on Tuesday denounced the retention of tuition collection in SUCs and private schools.

Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago called the UP President’s latest memorandum “a step backward in the fight for free education.”

“The UP administration is clearly going the path of continued profiteering in UP through the collection of tuition and other school fees,” Elago said.

She said UP collects P1,500 per unit at the maximum from at least 60 percent of the Diliman student population who has “no discount” according to an assessment based on the STS.

“P1,500 is almost five times the average cost of tuition at P325 per unit in all other 113 state universities. Has it not occurred to the UP admin that the reason why there are less poor in UP because they cannot afford it?” she said.

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno during the budget deliberations Tuesday morning said the government will not be able to afford the P100 billion yearly budget to fund the collegw education of students in state colleges and universities under the proposed Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act.

The proposed law was ratified by Congress in May and was submitted to Malacanang for President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature on July 5. (davaotoday.com)

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