Sunday, July 18, 2010

OSR Policy Paper: On the Policy of the Use and Implementation of the Tuition and Miscellaneous Fee Increases

Originally Posted on!/notes/office-of-the-student-regent-university-of-the-philippines/on-the-policy-of-the-use-and-implementation-of-the-tuition-and-miscellaneous-fee/136001116434850

As Student Regent of the University of the Philippines System, my mandate is to represent the students of the university system, whether they are certificate, non-degree, undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate students as stipulated in the section 12, sub-section 1-G of the Republic Act 9500 or also known as the UP Charter of 2008.

For the past semesters there had been numerous petitions of the colleges in the university system to raise miscellaneous fees, due to the lack of funds. But, if your honours please, let us be reminded about the rationale of the tuition and other fees increase approved by the UP Board of Regents in December 2006.

According to the Primer on the Proposal to Adjust Tuition and Other Fees released by the Office of the UP President as per Memorandum Number PERR 06-036 in September 12, 2006 that the proposal to increase the tuition fee:
“will translate into quality academic services (in terms of instruction and supervised research) provided by highly qualified faculty members, improved student-computer ratios, increased internet access, well-maintained teaching and research laboratories with state-of-the-art equipment, easy access to a wider and updated collection of textbooks and reference materials (in various forms, i.e., online, print, etc.) in UP libraries, and increased stipends and a larger number of recipients of the Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP).”

However, an interview with the President Roman published in the March 22 Issue of the Philippine Collegian as cited below, caught the SR’s attention:

“According to [UP President/ UP BOR Co-Chairperson] Roman, the funds generated from the tuition increase will go to the incremental income which will be used to build dorms.”

Limiting the use of the funds generated from the tuition increase to the problem of the dormitories is limiting the capacity of the full maximization of the funds, which is immediately needed by the college administrations in order to upgrade the necessary facilities to benefit their students or even benefit more beneficiaries of the STFAP.

With this track of administrating the funds on the Tuition and Other Fees increase, it burdens even more the current and future Iskolars ng Bayan and therefore, violates Section 9 of the RA 9500 which states that:

“The national university shall take affirmative steps which may take the form of an alternative and equitable admission process to enhance the access of disadvantaged students, such as indigenous peoples, poor and deserving students, including but not limited to valedictorian and salutatorians of public high schools, and students from depressed areas, to its programs and services.” (emphasis mine)

Meanwhile, RA 9500 states in Section 13 that the Board of Regents has the capacity to fix tuition and other fee increases after a comprehensive consultation with the students concerned:

“Power and Duties of the Board of Regents – The administration of the national university and the exercise of its corporate powers are vested in the Board of Regents:

(m) To fix the tuition fees and other necessary school charges, as the Board may deem proper to impose, after due and comprehensive consultation with the students concerned. Such fees and charges, including government support and other income generated by the national university, shall constitute special trust funds and shall be deposited in an authorized government depository bank. Any and all interest that shall accrue there from shall from part of the same funds for the use of the national university.”

and Section 21 states the role of the student council:

“Student Affairs - ... The student council shall serve as the primary student body that shall advance the interests, welfare, and aspirations of the students of the national university. It shall have the power to adopt internal rules of procedure consistent with the provisions of the Act..”

With these provisions in the RA 9500, it is then rendered crystal clear that the students affected by the proposed increases and the student councils must be well-informed by the college administrations in order to facilitate comprehensive consultations. However, this has not been the practice in the recent miscellaneous and laboratory fee increases as reported by the student councils to the Office of the Student Regent. Some college administrations only give the details of the increase, a week before the Board of Regents meeting. There are cases that some college administrations, do not even consider even informing the college student councils, university student councils and the supposed affected students regarding these issues, arbitrarily saying that it is not the concern of the students nor the student council because it is purely an administrative matter.

With these actions, the undersigned respectfully avers that the student’s right to information and inquiry is being suppressed and that these reports are gross violations to the UP Charter of 2008.

In line with the ideals of the UP Charter of 2008, the undersigned is thus requesting the honourable members of the Board to support the following:

• 15 days before the proposed fee increase is set to be evaluated by the College Executive Board, the students (or future students, if it will be applied to the incoming freshmen/ transferees from other educational institutions), the respective college and university student councils must have a copy of 1.the whole proposal of the proposed increase (including the justifications and the studies done by the college/university administration) and 2. a notice of a comprehensive consultation, requiring at least 50% + 1 of the total number of students affected by the fees together with the college and university student councils as active participants in the consultation;
• 10 days before the proposed fee increase is set to be evaluated by the College Executive Board, the Office of the Student Regent must be copy furnished of the complete proposal and an invitation to attend the comprehensive consultation set by the college/university administration; and
• if these provisions are not followed, any proposal to increase shall not be entertained by the Board of Regents.

The undersigned is confident that the honourable members of the Board are cognizant that the student councils are highly recognized as the legitimate representation of the largest stakeholders of the university, and are duly mandated to take a stand for our current and future Iskolars ng Bayan. Thus, their right in forwarding students’ rights, interests, and welfare should not be disregarded. Ultimately, we enjoin every sectors of the University of the Philippines’ community in upholding this university as a national and premier state university that caters to the people’s right to quality and accessible education.###

Cori Alessa C. Co
Student Regent
University of the Philippines System

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