Position Paper On the Proposed 2013 Socialized Tuition System (STS 2013) and the UP System Code Amendments
The sudden demise of Kristel Tejada on March 15, 2013 added fuel to the already fiery debate on the accessibility of UP education. Now, the Office of the Student Regent (OSR) is firm in its determination to prevent any similar tragedy, by asserting a principle which, had it been upheld, would likely have made a great difference in
the final months of Kristel’s life: education is a right, and any UP rules which unjustly limit that right must be
rejected. Since its implementation in 1989, followed by periodical reforms in subsequent years, the Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP) has caused skyrocketing tuition rates in the University: from PhP40 per unit to the current default rate of PhP 1,500 per unit. In effect, this has led to a steady increase in the number of appeals for late payment and loan application. Recently, the procedural roadblocks brought upon by UP System Code articles 330, 430, and 431 have been thrust into the spotlight. Because of these provisions
which bar otherwise qualified students from enrolling or taking final examinations due to financial incapacity
more and more students are forced to take a Leave of Absence (LOA) due to their unpaid matriculation and/or student loans. It is in this light that the OSR would like to put forward its position on the proposed STS 2013 and the amendments to the UP System Code. This position is reinforced by the lessons collated from previous reviews and consultations since the term of Former Student Regent James Mark Terry Ridon, immediately after the railroaded approval of the Tuition Fee Increase in 2006.
On the Proposed Socialized Tuition System 2013
Upon reviewing the proposal, and after a series of student consultations, the Office would like to put forward the following comments:
The ideology behind the socialized tuition policy is detrimental for the students and for a state university.
From the very beginning, the OSR has been critical of the ideology behind the so-called
scheme. Having students pay for their tuition based on their perceived capacity to pay reflects a skewed logic, subjecting UP education to the whims of market forces, and treating UP as a private enterprise rather than a public service institution.
The stratification of students based on their income has only given the administration justification for stratifying students based on income. The suppo
sed promotion of “fairness and social justice” has led
to more than half of the student population paying a tuition rate of P1,000 per unit, while a staggering 25% pay the rate of P1,500 per unit.
Some would argue that students are now rich enough to pay the said costs. But recent data from the Office of Scholarships and Student Services (OSSS) reveal that there were
5,391 students who applied for student loans in UP Diliman alone
. Last semester, 1,218 students were not able to pay their loans before the release of grades (
Philippine Collegian, Issue #16; 13 November 2013
). Regardless of the financial capacity of wealthy students, these numbers suggest that the STFAP, and the high cost of tuition, is actually harming instead of helping the most vulnerable sector of the student body: the financially challenged students.
The national tuition rate for higher educational institutions (alongside private schools) based on the 2012-2013 data from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) is only P475.47 per unit.
UP education, on the other hand,
costs more than double this average rate.