UNDER SCRUTINY | Yet another budget cut

NI JOHN MOSES CHUA

Several months after Kristel Tejada’s death, another financially hassling registration phase in the university is commenced. Every bit of money handed down to the lady in the cashier’s office, is a connaissance of what she experienced during her last months. Maybe one would ask: how expensive is UP education?

The UP administration might say that UP’s tuition scheme increased, but is still in accordance with the students’ general financial position. Besides, the Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP) and Student Loan Board (SLB) exist to financially support students falling in the lowest brackets. STFAP serves a tuition scheme different for every economic class a student is in; the poorer or the richer the student is, the lower or higher his tuition is, respectively. SLB, on the other hand, is the loan program a student may apply for if one’s tuition has been too large, that one is not able to pay it.

If we are to look at the systemic relationship between STFAP and SLB, it should be safe to assume that STFAP works to lessen the number of students applying for tuition loan; since, again, STFAP provides the right measure of tuition for a certain student’s bracket.

Though last June, during the registration process, the second floor of the Student Union building seemed to be insufficient to accommodate all the students lining up to apply for SLB, which leads to doubt that tuition increase still conforms to the students’ financial status. It seems that STFAP, which served to compromise Tuition and Other Fees Increase (TOFI) in UP, has shown its ineffectiveness.

On the defense of STFAP, several contexts may also be considered such as: those who lined-up applying for SLB did not apply for STFAP, or that there are other very complex reasons why the line for SLB is too long. However, that is not the problem. It is neither the unproportionally large population of student applying for SLB nor the ineffectivity of STFAP, but about the empirical assertion that entails it; apparently asserting the need for higher state subsidy.

It all rooted from the government’s move. Under the Roadmap for Public Higher Education Reforms (RPHER), budget for state universities and colleges, like UP, are to be significantly cut in favor of income-generating projects. Recently, another blatant cut for higher education costing PHP1.9 billion was seen in the proposed 2014 budget, specifically cutting PHP1.43 billion to the UP budget. It is just one of the recent budget cuts higher education suffers annually.

These budget cuts were compensated by the UP system through tuition and other fee increases; and once again through STFAP and Large Lecture Class Policy (LLCP) in UPLB. These policies then resulted to what they say a ‘certain isolated case of suicide’.

The Philippine Constitution mandates that the state “shall protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels, and shall take appropriate steps to make such education accessible to all”. Ironically, an immense amount of budget is cut from UP. Some students may not have felt the financial instability other UP students feel, but it should be known that it is obvious enough that the UP education is not getting the right budget allocation.

We should still fight for higher state subsidy. It is not about that there is not enough budget for UP—and other state subsidy so to include—but it is about the right of the students for education; the right of the students especially in the national university. [P]

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