UP Tuition Fee Increase

COMMENTS by Judy Taguiwalo Associate Professor UP CSWCD are in BOLD

THE OPEN LETTER to the UP Community on the Proposed Tuition Fee Increase from President Emerlinda R. Roman Tuesday, December 5, 2006
UP President Emerlinda R. Roman

When I assumed my post as UP president, I announced, as part of my ten-point plan, the review of our existing undergraduate tuition policy and structure. Even then, I acknowledged that it would be a “tough decision,” and determined that it would involve studying how financial responsibility could be shared among our different stakeholders. (University of the Philippines Plan, 2005-2011)Shortly after that, I created a committee for this purpose, headed by Dr. Emmanuel De Dios of the UP Diliman School of Economics. The committee has completed its work and submitted its report. Copies of the complete report have been distributed to all CUs. A primer, containing a simple summary of the report’s most important points, has also been widely distributed.

I also created another committee, headed by Professor Edgar Atanacio of the UP Diliman College of Engineering, to propose a restructuring of the Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP), based on the De Dios Report. This committee has also submitted its final report, and copies have been sent to the chancellors, the Faculty Regent, the Student Regent and the Alumni Regent.

As of December 6, 2006, majority of the members of the University Council of UP Diliman did not have access to the Atanacio report which was provided to the Student Regent and the Faculty Regent only on November 30 although Solita Monsod already referred to this report (calling it the Esguerra report) in her November 18 column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Up to today, the Atanacio report has not been posted in the UP website nor hardcopies circulated among the faculty of UP Diliman.

As expected, some students are opposed to the proposed tuition adjustments. Had there been no opposition at all, we would have been surprised, even perhaps disappointed. What would UP be like without debates? However, because public statements have been made which—deliberately or unconsciously— contain distortions of the facts, I wish to take this opportunity to clarify the issue.

IT IS NOT ONLY UP STUDENTS WHO ARE OPPOSING THE PROPOSED TUITION FEE INCREASE. UP FACULTY MEMBERS ARE AMONG THOSE WHO ARE OPPOSED TO THIS INCREASE

This proposed tuition adjustment is the first since 1989. Under the proposed adjustment, the cost per unit in UP Diliman, UP Manila and UP Los Baños will be P1,000. In UP Baguio, UP Visayas and UP Mindanao, it will be P600.

The reason for the proposed adjustment is inflation. The P300 per unit which UP students are paying today is worth only P98 today. If we were to take the actual rate of increase of prices for educational services in particular, it is worth even less—P42. As pointed out by Professor Solita Monsod, “this means that the UP student on the average is being subsidized for about 80% of the cost of instruction. (PDI, 18 November)

BUT UP IS A STATE UNIVERSITY AND AS A STATE UNIVERSITY IT IS SUPPOSED TO OFFER QUALITY EDUCATION AT ACCESSIBLE COST. THIS MEANS THAT THE UP STUDENT EDUCATION IS SUBSIDIZED BY THE STATE. THAT IS WHY UP STUDENTS ARE KNOWN AS ‘ISKOLAR NG BAYAN”. SO WHAT’S WRONG WITH AN 80% SUBSIDY?

INFLATION HAS AFFECTED NOT ONLY THE COST OF EDUCATION, IT HAS ALSO AFFECTED THE REAL VALUE OF THE INCOMES OF THE PARENTS OF UP STUDENTS.

Miscellaneous fees will also be adjusted to reflect rising costs, from around P600 to P2000 for UPD, UPM and UPLB; from P595 to P1405 for UPB and UPV; and from P830 to P1,640 for UP Mindanao.

THE MISCELLANEOUS FEES WILL NOT JUST BE MERELY ADJUSTED. NEW FEES WILL BE IMPOSED INCLUDING ELECTRICITY COST, INTERNET COST. THIS IS ON TOP OF THE INCREASE IN THE TUITION

AND THIS IS ON TOP OF THE VARIOUS INCREASES IN LABORATORY FEES AND THE CHARGES TO STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS FOR THE USE OF UP FACILITIES SUCH AS MEETING ROOMS. THE USER’S FEES THAT THE UNIVERSITY HAS IMPOSED EVEN INCLUDE CHARGES “BY SQUARE METER” STUDENTS’ USE OF THE LOBBY OF THE COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING. CSSP ALSO CHARGES STUDENTS FOR THE USE OF THE LOBBY.

One very important detail which protesting students often ignore is that the new fees will affect only new students, i.e., freshmen and transferees, who will enter UP in 2007. Moreover, only students belonging to the highest income bracket—Bracket A (over P1 million a year)—will pay the full rate (the base tuition of P1,000 per unit x 1.5). In fact, students eligible for assistance under the UP Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP) will enjoy larger benefits.

THIS TACTIC REALLY INTENDS TO DIVIDE THE CURRENT STUDENTS OF UP FROM THOSE WHO WILL BE STUDENTS IN THE COMING YEARS AND IS INTENDED TO REDUCE THE OPPOSITION OF CURRENT STUDENTS TO THE PROPOSAL. A TUITION INCREASE IS A TUITION INCREASE AND UP EDUCATION WILL BE THAT MORE EXPENSIVE. AND A TRUE ISKOLAR NG BAYAN WILL NOT BE MERELY THINKING OF HIMSELF/HERSELF BUT WOULD BE CONCERNED ABOUT THE FUTURE BATCH OF ISKOLAR NG BAYAN .

Students in Bracket E (annual income of P80,000 or less) will pay no tuition at all, and will receive a stipend of P12,000 per semester. Students in Bracket D (annual income from P80,001 to P135,000) will enjoy a 70% discount, which means they will pay P300 per unit, the existing rate. Students in Bracket C (annual income from P135,001 to P500,000) will pay P600 per unit. Only those in Bracket B (annual income of P500,001 to P1 million) will pay P1,000 per unit.

There is deception here. President Roman omits the following implication of the new STFAP bracketing.

The Atanacio report projects that 20% of incoming students may fall in Bracket E, 20% may be paying P300 per unit, 40% will be paying P600 per unit, 16% will be paying P1,000 per unit and 4 to 5 % will be paying P1,500 per unit. Hence at least 80% of incoming students will be affected by the tuition fee increase.

 

In the current STFAP, students whose families have incomes of P80,001-130,000 (Bracket 4) do not have to pay any tuition. Now they have to pay P300.00. That is a 300% increase.

 

Students whose families have incomes of P130,001-170, 000, who used to pay only P75 per unit, will now have to pay P600 per unit, which is a 700% increase.

Under the smokescreen of forcing rich UP students to pay the full cost or near the full cost of UP education, the Roman administration will be increasing by 300% to 700% the tuition of students whose family incomes fall way below the daily cost of living.

The double standard that President Roman’s administration is using is evident in the new bracketing scheme. Inflation is the reason given for increasing tuition. But inflation is not taken into account when students whose family incomes merited full subsidy in 1989 are now going to be charged P300 or even P600 per unit!

It should be noted that this bracketing is different from the old one, so to claim, as UPD student council chair Juan Paulo Alfonso does, that under the old bracketing, 3 out of 9 income groupings are given full subsidy, whereas under the new one, only one will get it, is an oversimplification.

For example, under the existing STFAP, ownership of a cell phone automatically places the student in Bracket 9. Under the proposed STFAP, a cell phone will be considered just an addition to the number of phones a family has. It is families with swimming pools, private security services, international credit cards, and personally-financed travels which will be assigned to Bracket A.

Additionally, the adjusted fees remain significantly lower than the true cost of an undergraduate UP education, not to mention the cost of an undergraduate education in other comparable universities in the country.

This statement actually conceals the fact that state subsidy per student will be drastically slashed from the current 78% per student to 47% or even as low as 23%. Based on the P1,531.00 cost of instruction per unit as pegged by the de Dios committee, full tuition subsidy is P27,558. The following table illustrates the decline of state subsidy in UP students tuition (miscellaneous fees are not included) as a proportion of the cost of instruction once the tuition increase is implemented .

Current Scheme

P300/unit

Proposed TF

P700/unit

Proposed TF

P1,000/unit

Proposed TFI

P1,500/unit

Total Tuition Cost for 18 units

P6, 015

P14,600

P21, 240

P27,000

Government Subsidy

P21, 543

P12,958

P6, 318

558.00

% of government subsidy to total cost

78%

47%

23%

2%

UP will have full iskolar ng bayan, half iskolar ng bayan, a quarter of iskolar ng bayan and practically a none iskolar ng bayan

Finally, alongside the tuition adjustment and the revised STFAP, we intend to: (1) strengthen the student loan program; (2) increase the number of student assistance posts; and (3) campaign for more scholarship grants from the government, the private sector, and the alumni.

Which private universities are doing.

Mr. Alfonso, has been quoted as saying that it is wrong to use students as a “source of income” for the university. “They tell us that it’s not the government’s role to subsidize tertiary education, but we believe otherwise.” (PDI, 24 November). During the congress of student councils held in Davao, which I personally attended, Mr. Alfonso declared that the difference between the students’ position and that of the UP administration was “philosophical. ” In other words, his position is that tertiary education should be entirely subsidized. But, as Professor Randy David has observed, while basic education is indeed a right, enshrined in the Constitution, tertiary education is not. (PDI, 26 November)

We are not talking about tertiary education per se, but tertiary education as provided by a state university and the premier state university in particular is supposed to provide quality education made accessible to the people as an alternative to quality education at exorbitant costs provided by private tertiary education institutions.

But the current plan to increase tuition to as high as P1,500, increasing current miscellaneous fees and imposing new ones, transfer to the students in increasing amounts the failure of the government to adequately support state universities and colleges.

Based on the UP System Statement of Other Receipts and Expenditures (FY 2004-2005), student tuition already contributed the single largest share in the item of “Business Income” of the University: P296,460,000 out of a total of P429,608,000.

The increase in tuition and other fees is projected by the Atanacio committee to generate the following revenues for UP:

Depending upon the application rate assumed for STFAP, revenue from tuition and miscellaneous fees range from P85.1 million (40% application rate) to P68.1 million (80% application rate). With stipends ranging from a low of P8.2 million to a high of P16.4 million, net inflows for one semester from freshmen enrollees would be anywhere between P51.7 and P76.9 million. Relative to the P40 million (the footnote says this is a very rough estimate) that the University currently receives from tuition and miscellaneous fees, this means an additional P12-36 million in revenues for the University for one semester or roughly P24-P72 million a year. (Atanacio committee report: p.8)

The P24-P72 million per year additional revenue for year to the current “rough estimate of P40 million revenue per year, will mean from P256 million to P288 million income of the university from tuition and miscelaaneous fees once the increase reaches full implementation. This amount is clearly an underestimation when current UP financial statement already pegs earnings from tuition (alone as there is a separate category for miscellaneous student fees) to almost P300 million pesos.

In any case, we have never suggested that state subsidies for education should be removed. What we have done is recognize they are diminishing, not just nationally, but globally. Nonetheless, UP students coming from families up to the 97th percentile of the national income distribution (maximum annual family income of P500,000) shall continue to enjoy a tuition subsidy even under the restructured STFAP.

A 2% subsidy

Nor have we any intentions of forgetting about the need to get a larger budget from government. Our position is simply that while waiting for this miracle to take place, we cannot simply stand our ground and do nothing.

A higher budget allocation from the government is not a miracle that one waits for to happen. It requires a strong effort from the UP administration to lobby and pressure government and to support the efforts of the students to demand higher budget for education.

Even while the two committees were conducting their studies, we were working on a three-pronged program to improve the University’s finances: (1) the UP Centennial Fund Campaign, designed to build up our financial endowment; (2) the aggressive campaign in Congress and the Senate, to secure exemption from the Salary Standardization Law for the UP faculty, and additional funding for UP programs and projects; and (3) the negotiations with Ayala Land, Inc. for the development of the UP North Science and Technology Park along Commonwealth Avenue.

I might add that we have been successful in obtaining P500 million from the supplemental budget for the National Science Complex, through the good offices of Congressman Luis Villafuerte and Senator Franklin Drilon; and that we have signed the Memorandum of Agreement with ALI for the S&T Park. Governments all over the world have recognized the all-important link between scientific expertise and economic development, and universities have set up S&T Parks adjacent to their campuses. The S&T Park, which will soon rise on our campus, is not only an important part of our efforts to address the University’s financial needs, but fits right in with our vision of UP as being at par with the leading research universities around the world.

It is to be hoped that the sectors that are now loudly objecting to our proposed adjustment of student fees, and insisting that we find more “creative” ways of compensating for our budgetary constraints, will not be as vociferous in objecting to our efforts to become more financially independent by developing our idle assets. Or, at the very least, that they will first examine the Q&A on the S&T Park prepared by the Office of the Vice President for Development, and published in the UP Newsletter, October and November issues, and also available on line.

Atty. Gari Tiongco, president of the UP Alumni Association, and also a member of the UP Board of Regents, has endorsed the tuition adjustment. So have the faculty members of some of the colleges in UP Diliman. I hope other members of the UP community will at least study the proposal carefully, before proclaiming their opposition to it.

We have studied the proposal when these are made available to us that is why we are strongly opposing the double whammy of tuition increase, increase in miscellaneous fees and the imposition of new ones. This is happening at the same time that “non profitable” UP units such as the UFS in UP Los Banos and the Printery of the UP Press have been closed.

In the meantime, we in administration must continue to do our jobs and run the University as best we can under the circumstances.

In the meantime, those of us who are critical of the strong bent of the Roman administration towards commercialization and privatization of UP which has strongly contributed to the diminishing character of UP as a state university must also do our jobs to assert UP as the university of the “Iskolar ng Bayan”.

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