UP Second-Degree Takers Covered by ToFI but Not by STFAP

There is no escaping the University of the Philippines’ (UP) tuition and other fee increases (ToFI) – even for second-degree takers.

Vol. VII, No. 15 May 20-26, 2007

There is no escaping the University of the Philippines’ (UP) tuition and other fee increases (ToFI) – even for second-degree takers.

After its unanimous approval of a 300 percent increase in the tuition fee of the University of the Philippines (UP) last December, the Board of Regents (BoR) mandated that old UP students who are taking their second degree will be covered by the adjusted tuition structure. Moreover, they cannot avail of the Socialized Tuition Fee Assistance Program (STFAP) coverage. The STFAP categorizes UP students into brackets based on annual family income in order to determine who is eligible for tuition fee discounts.

The said decision was made during the last BoR meeting, which took place on May 2, 2007.

The BoR is the university’s highest policy-making body. Only two of its members, the Faculty Regent and the Student Regent, are elected by their respective constituents while the rest are Malacañang appointees.

Dissenting views

However, the two Regents have dissenting views on the latest development in the ToFI. Faculty Regent Lourdes Barcenas gave her nod to the proposal, while Student Regent Terry Ridon opposed the BoR move.

According to Barcenas, it is already an excessive act to allow a UP graduate to again enjoy the privilege of being an iskolar ng bayan (people’s scholar) in seeking a second degree. She then cited the fact that the new tuition scheme covers all freshmen entering the university on June 2007, and second degree takers are also considered as such. “Ang palisiya ng equal application of the law ay dapat pairalin” (The policy of the equal application of the law should prevail), the Faculty Regent pointed out in an interview with Bulatlat.

On the other hand, Ridon raised his disagreement with the BoR’s verdict, but to no avail. However, he was able to convince the body to let incoming College of Law students to apply for the STFAP. The Student Regent attacked the assessment of his fellow members that entering law school is a luxury.

“Public policy dictates that UP should encourage legal education,” he explains to Bulatlat. “Hindi dapat pinaghihiwalay ang pag-aaral ng law at pursuit of justice” (The study of law should not be detached from the pursuit of justice.)

In a letter addressed to UP’s constituents, Ridon said that: “While it was utterly difficult to convince the Board of Regents to stop the inclusion of old UP students who would pursue a second-degree from the effects of the much-discredited system-wide tuition and other fee increases, it is already a remarkable gain in the continuing campaign against the commercialization of UP education to allow the access to STFAP benefits of incoming students of the College of Law.”

SPARE UP and other initiatives

Meanwhile, the fight against ToFI continues, with the Office of the Student Regent (OSR) and University Student Councils (USCs) from different UP units organizing and launching new initiatives to prove that the ToFI is illegal and invalid.

One of the projects they are pursuing is called SPARE UP, which stands for Students and Parents for Accessible and Relevant Education. Headed by the OSR and the USC in Diliman, the group is composed of parents of freshmen who want to express their sentiment about the ToFI. After having talked to some parents during the enrollment last week, Ridon was able to see the outrage of parents over the BOR decision.

Aside from SPARE UP, the OSR is also planning to conduct a study on the financial health of the university. The Student Regent cited the fact that UP should start assessing its internal operations and determine if it contributes to the dwindling financial capability of the institution. Management of resources, disbursement of funds, and investigating graft and corruption cases are the specifics that the OSR will look into.(Bulatlat.com)

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