Students react to 'no tuition collection' in UP Diliman
MANILA, Philippines – How did UP students react to the news that the Diliman campus of the University of the Philippines (UP) will not collect tuition for the first semester of academic year 2017-2018?
UP Diliman's announcement on Tuesday, July 11 got mixed reactions from the UP community.
Some state scholars rejoiced, saying that the announcement is a manifestation of the long-standing struggle for free education, while others remained wary, claiming that it is merely a "temporary suspension."
UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan made the announcement after a meeting with chancellors of other constituent units.
Tan said that until the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) gives clearer guidelines regarding the implementation of the tuition-free policy, they will not collect any amount from students of UP Diliman.
But CHED Commissioner Prospero de Vera III questioned Tan's reason for declaring UP Diliman's no tuition collection.
"I don’t know what Chancellor Tan is talking about when he points to government and says government is not clear about its plan," said De Vera, former UP vice president for public affairs.
The CHED and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) then issued a joint memorandum that said state universities and colleges (SUCs) will prioritize beneficiaries of government student financial assistance programs in the implementation of the tuition-free policy.
Based on the memorandum, the tuition-free policy will cover "all Filipino students enrolling in undergraduate course programs in SUCs for the academic year 2017-2018, subject to the prioritization directive of the President and the availability of funds in the Higher Education Support Fund."
'Temporary suspension' only
Following the announcement, UP Diliman's Computerized Registration System (CRS) on Wednesday, July 12, posted on its website that there will "be no assessment and collection of fees yet" for the upcoming semester.
Still, some students remained wary, calling on their fellow students to stay sober amid the announcement:
So not free tuition but merely suspension of collection. A'ight pic.twitter.com/V1qVB6tvyP— Addison Amiel Ayson (@AdamAyson) July 12, 2017
A step forward
STAND UP, one of the political organizations in UP Diliman, said the announcement is a "momentous step forward for the Iskolar ng Bayan and for the struggle for the Filipino people's right to education."
They also pushed for a "no tuition collection" in all units and all state universities.
Some students expressed their hope for other UP units to follow suit.
Congratulations, Iskolar ng Bayan! UPD Chancellor Mike Tan announced in protest rally today: No tuition collection in UP Diliman.
Congratulations, Iskolar ng Bayan! UPD Chancellor Mike Tan announced in protest rally today: No tuition collection in UP Diliman.— Vencer Crisostomo (@venzie) July 11, 2017
It's never wrong to demand our rights!!!!!!!! Happy for UPD pero keep up tayo other UP units!!!!! https://t.co/Nouktf2QBs— Micah Deleon (@immicahdeleon) July 11, 2017
STAND UP said the announcement is proof of the "power of militant, collective action" despite roadblocks, such as the the "administration's refusal to heed the call for free education, and the divisive acts of some groups who continue to support 'socialized tuition' and fee hikes."
UP Alyansa, another political organization in UP Diliman, said that the fight is far from over.
In its statement, UP Alyansa said that the latest announcement is only a partial fulfilment of the state's mandate to make education accessible.
According to the group, the move "will not render education completely accessible," citing other concerns of students such as "living costs, dormitory fees, and other additional requirements outside the coverage of tuition and other fees."
Others agreed that the fight for free education continues.
No tuition collection in UP Diliman next sem.Great news!But fight for free education continues - sustain & replicate victory for the youth!
No tuition collection in UP Diliman next sem.Great news!But fight for free education continues - sustain & replicate victory for the youth!— Galo Glino III (@thirdyglino) July 11, 2017
A bill that seeks to provide free tuition and other school fees in SUCs, local universities and colleges, and government-run technical-vocational institutions is still awaiting President Rodrigo Duterte's signature. – Rappler.com
Alexa Yadao is a Rappler intern. She is currently a Communication Arts student at UP Baguio