Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts

Vol. VI, No. 38      Oct. 29 -Nov. 4, 2006      Quezon City, Philippines








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Copyright 2004 Bulatlat


On the proposed tuition hike:
UP could be State University No More

The University of the Philippines (UP) represents a beacon of hope for the Filipino family who have been so used to neglect and suffering: quality education at a reasonable cost. But the latest tuition hike proposal being pushed by the very officials of the university may permanently extinguish the chances of the common Filipino family for a better life.


The University of the Philippines (UP) represents a beacon of hope for the Filipino family who have been so used to neglect and suffering: quality education for a reasonable cost. But the latest tuition hike proposal being pushed by the very officials of the university may permanently extinguish the chances of the common Filipino family for a better life.

The current tuition fee of the iskolars ng bayan (literally, people’s scholars) stands between P5,000 to P9,000, with the exception of students of the College of Medicine in UP Manila who suffered the first whip of a rather systematic UP administration-backed plan to increase the tuition. But these amounts may soon change with the Board of Regents (BoR), the university’s highest policy-making body, poised to decide if such increases would be implemented. An Ad-hoc committee tasked to review tuition and other fees, composed of Chairman Emmanuel de Dios, Rene P. Felix, and Helen S. Valderama, has already submitted a 17-page final report to the BoR that proposed to augment tuition and miscellaneous fees of incoming freshmen of Academic Year (AY) 2006-2007, but its implementation may have to be moved for AY 2007-2008.

If the findings and recommendations of the De Dios Committee would be applied, tuition fee of the country’s premier academic institution would increase by as much as 500 percent. Today’s cost of per credit-unit stands at P300 ($6.02 at an exchange rate of $1=P49.82) for Diliman, Manila, and Los Baños campuses while in Baguio, Visayas, and Mindanao the amount is slightly lower at P200 ($4.01). In the de Dios Committee report, the rate can go as high as P1,500 ($30.108) for Group 1 (Diliman, Manila, Los Baños) and P1,000 ($20.07) for Group 11 (Baguio, Visayas, Mindanao). Also, a new bracketing system is proposed as is shown below:


Tuition-fee discounts by bracket and campus-group


(in pesos per credit-unit)


Group I

Group II



















Group 1: Diliman, Manila, Los Banos

Group 11: Baguio, Visayas, Mindanao


This is a huge divergence from its present equivalent system called the Socialized Tuition Fee Assistance Program (STFAP):

STFAP brackets and applicable

tuition-fee discounts(in pesos per credit-unit)

Family income in urban areas

Tuition fee discount

Applicable tuition fee*


































250,001 and above



Source: UP STFAP-Bulletin(2001)
*Rates for UP Diliman

 Flawed logic

But the conclusions and rationale given by the De Dios Committee are shaky, if not misguided, as some sectors in the UP claim. In the position paper of the All-UP Academic Union (AUPAU), an organization of the university’s academic workforce, it said that “the committee has resorted to an imagined rise in income for its clone UP student to justify a raise in tuition and miscellaneous fees.”

With the committee borrowing its justifications from the “market-driven principle” where “those who have more should pay more,” the fundamental basis of the proposed tuition fee increase (TFI) is that the average income of Filipino families improved between 1988 to 2003, as shown by the data gathered by the UP Office of Admission on self-reported family incomes by incoming UP students for the year 2004. The said data serves as the statistical core of the claims by the De Dios Committee.  

Also, the 2004 family earnings of incoming freshmen were shown to be higher than the average income in the Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES). It sets the precedence that the present measure of fees in the university, especially its bracketing scheme called the STFAP, is proving to be an “increasingly inadequate system” and hence should be replaced. Shown below are the figures from the UP Office of Admission and how it compares to the national averages:   

Family-income distribution by decile: entering UP freshmen 2004 and all households 2003
(in thousands of pesos per annum)

Entering freshmen

Decile Income maximum * Average Income ** Average Income Average Expenditure
A              Poorest 36,000 13,511 26,467 28,588
                 Second 65,000 52,188 42,354 43,556
B                  Third 98,169 80,609 55,052 55,096
                  Fourth 135,140 116,216 68,863 66,147
                     Fifth 182,239 159,687 85,391 80,204
C                  Sixth 247,264 215,473 106,029 98,701
                Seventh 340,000 288,047 134,473 120,972
                    Eight 509,200 417,122 175,784 152,501

The committee report further points out that the ratio between market prices of 1989 and 2005 is 3.28 based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is used to determine the cost of living. And with the CPI as the multiplying constant, the committee computed the annual income of families belonging to Bracket 9 of the present STFAP, which is pegged to be earning P250,000 or more, to have reached P820,000 (P250,000 x CPI 3.28) so they should be paying P984 per credit-unit (P300 x CPI 3.28) or P656 per credit-unit (P200 x CPI 3.28).

The de Dios committee also argued that the nominal tuition fee since 1989 has declined in its real value, decreasing to P98 and P61 in 2004 for the P300 and P200 per credit-unit cost, respectively.

According to the AUPAU paper, the De Dios Committee failed to recognize the same effect of inflation on the so-called improved income of the families of UP students in 2004. As inflation stands at 7.7 percent by the end of 2005, the daily cost of living (DCoL) of 2005 for a family of six amounts to P650.17 in the NCR and P534.80 outside the region, according to the National Statistics Office (NSO). Following the proposed bracketing of the De Dios Committee, those in Bracket B who earn from P98,169 to P182,239 would only be having P272.69 to P506.21 every day, which is way below the DCOL. Even in the case of the wealthiest bracket of UP students, the real value of their P250,000 income is P76,219.5 (P250,000 / CPI 3.28).

As the AUPAU claimed, other economic and social factors affecting the real value of today’s incomes were ignored by the De Dios Committee. “The crux of the committee’s justification for the increases in tuition and miscellaneous fees is based on a ‘thought experiment’ assuming ‘intertemporal equity’, a fictitious state of a clone UP student which blatantly defies hard reality,” the paper concluded.

Divide and rule

In an interview with Bulatlat, Dr. Edberto Villegas from the AUPAU said that one of the tactics employed by the proponents of TFI is the “divide and rule” strategy. In the committee report, there was a section dedicated to a comparison of salaries among professors and instructors in UP, Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University, and the University of Santo Tomas (UST), obviously to show the huge difference of their compensations and then offering the TFI as a way to augment their paychecks. From such an action, it is clear that the De Dios Committee “pit faculty welfare against student welfare,” as pointed out by the AUPAU.

But Villegas quickly debunked such claims, “This is not applicable to UP because we do not operate like those private institutions as we are covered by rationalization.” The rationalization law applies to government employees in order to standardize their salaries.

The same tactic is also used to the present students who will not be affected by the proposed increase. Again, the De Dios Committee raised the concerns of two sectors in the university and gave the false impression that they are coming from different, if not opposing, sides of the TFI issue.  

University of the Philippines, Inc.

The last tuition hike in UP was in 1989 in compliance with the dictates of the International Monetary Fund as stated in the Memorandum of Economic and Financial Agreement (MOEFA) during the Aquino administration. “In MOEFA, government institutions like UP were instructed to look for other ways to increase their revenues as the government will not increase their budgets in order to pay off debts,” Dr. Villegas explained.

However, the implications of the present propositions to implement tuition and miscellaneous fee increases go deeper than the immediate financial constraints it will present to the ordinary Filipino family. It is yet another proof of the commercialization of education, one of the most primary rights that should be accorded to Filipinos. “The rule now is to each his own to survive the rigors of the market with its ever increasing prices of goods and services. And the UP administration is caught within this profit-making milieu and therefore look first after its own,” as postulated in the AUPAU paper. This makes the university no different from a profit-driven corporation whose sole consideration is its own survival in an increasingly competitive playing field. And the students are treated like customers who have to contend with the fact that they need to have the money in order to avail of their right.

“What is happening now is a privatization approach to education,” said Dr. Villegas as he reiterated the insight of the AUPAU position paper that this is bringing UP one step closer to being bought by private corporations, as is the trend of other government institutions.

“They even have plans to list UP in the stock market,” he shared, in a tone so serious that it may not have been a joke done in bad taste. Bulatlat


© 2006 Bulatlat  Alipato Media Center

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