Still, no to tuition increases!

November 14, 2006. The proposed tuition increase (from P300 to P1,000 per unit in UP Diliman, Manila & Los Baños) and increases in miscellaneous fees (P615 to P2,000 in UP Diliman) shall not affect me or other concurrent UP students. I shouldn’t care.

But I do. There is a false assumption that UP has become a bastion of children of middle to high income families. Are they so naive to think that seeing a number of cars in some parking lots in Diliman justify their notion that UP no longer educates the less privileged? Tuition and other fee increases shall be implemented not only in UP Diliman but also in other UP units from Baguio to San Fernando to Manila to Los Baños to Tacloban to lloilo to Cebu up to Davao.

Granting, without conceding, the perception that students from private schools have become more prevalent in UP is exactly indicative of an even wider picture of the state’s neglect of its duty to educate this country’s children, which is parallel to the university’s struggle for greater state subsidy for the education sector. Add to that the university administration’s scrapping of preferential additional scores given to public provincial high school students, we’re bound to see a UP that is truly what some say a bastion of the burgis, for they are those who can afford to take special review courses and whatnot to gain better chances at university admission. This even defeats the purpose of the administration’s socialized tuition fee system which tries to justify tuition increases by saying that the poor will not pay more, the rich will do. Hell, you’ve just shut tighter the gates of the university for the less privileged.

The socialized tuition fee system is not a guarantee that UP education shall be equitable and affordable. That was the guarantee back in 1989 when the last tuition increase was implemented. But where has that promise brought many students? For many poor students, owning a cellphone even of a cheap model shall strip one of his scholarships because it is taken as an indicator that he has disposable income to pay higher fees–which is not often the case.

TOFI (Tuition and Other Fee Increases) defeats the call for higher state subsidy. It opens the floodgates of gradual state abandonment. Once we allow TOFI to be implemented, little can stop other state universities from pursuing similar self-reliant revenue generating measures. Government will have less reasons to further support tertiary education. Tertiary education shall become less and less accessible to this country’s people. Keeping in mind that 87% of the country’s families are poor (based on an international $2 a day poverty threshold), increases in the cost of tertiary education in the country’s state universities is a great social injustice.

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