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State U student leaders vow to fight for right to education

UP, PUP and other SUCs to hike fees

Student leaders from University of the Philippines (UP), Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) and other state universities and colleges gathered yesterday in unity against fee hikes set to be implemented in state universities and colleges (SUCs) this school year.

Led by the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) and Kabataan Partylist, the student leaders said the fee hikes will mean less access to education and more problems for Filipino students and their families.

Students lament the fact that after CHED has allowed 256 private schools to hike tuition, now government schools which are supposed to cater the poor are hiking fees.

“Gov’t is clearly abandoning its responsibility to send Filipinos to school,” said NUSP secretary general Issa Baguisi.

UP tuition hike

In UP, a P500 increase in tuition rates is expected through what the students call a “tuition rebracketing scheme.”

According to UP Student Regent Cleve Arguelles, the additional requirements for the Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistce Program (STFAP) has resulted to a change in the “default bracket” which mean an increase in “base tuiton” from P1,000 per unit to P1,500 per unit in Diliman, Manila and Los Banos and from P600 to P1000 per unit in other campuses.

The UP admin has denied that it has implemented a tuition hike but confirmed that it has implemented a new STFAP scheme. Meanwhile, many students complain of “bracket sliding” or assignment to brackets with higher tuition.

“STFAP has acted as a smokescreen for increases in tuition, justifying the systematic and continuous abandonment of the government to its responsibility to provide enough subsidies, and transforming a public university into an income-generating institution that relies heavily on its own income,” Arguelles said.

He called for the immediate deferment of the implementation of the new scheme “pending policy consultation with other stakeholders” as well as “a comprehensive review of the STFAP taking into consideration the results of the studies of the different student institutions.”

Meanwhile, a #scrapSTFAP campaign has been launched by various groups on facebook and twitter to counter the new scheme.
A photo has been circulated on the internet saying “in UP, one is presumed rich until proven poor.”

PUP fee hike illegal

PUP student leaders meanwhile report a fee hike of at least P490 in insurance, medical and PE uniform fees which, according to them, was passed by the administration illegally.

According to PUP Student Regent Helen Alfonso, the fees are “exorbitant, unwarranted and unjust.”

Alfonso says these fees have not been included during the past because they are not applicable to all students. More importantly, many will not be able to afford PUP education any longer because of these fees.

She said the fees were not approved by the board and was deferred. Despite this, admin officials still implemented it.

Alfonso appealed to newly elected PUP president Emmanuel De Guzman, which the students supported, to stop the implementation of the new fees.

PUP has more than 68,000 students in 23 campuses nationwide.

NUSP also received reports of fee hikes in Ifugao State U, Benguet State University, Apayao State College, Mountain Province State Polytechnic College and Mindanao State University. Reports from other state schools are still being gathered.

Protests set

NUSP and the student leaders said they are gearing up for protests against the fee hikes and to call for greater spending for SUCs and education.

The operations budget for 58 SUCs have been slashed last year despite protests from students, teachers, and administration officials.

For students, these policies prove that Aquino is anti-education and anti-poor. It seems the policy of the administration is to hike education costs and push students to drop out.

Sa tuwid na daan, dirediretso din ang pagtataas ng tuition.

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