UP Manila to suspend tuition policy?

(UPDATED) The fate of the UP Manila policy that increases the pressure on students unable to pay tuition on time still hangs in the balance

GRIEF STRICKEN. Students and faculty members of UP Manila gathered at a candle lighting ceremony for 'Lorena'. Photo by Jigs Tenorio

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The University of the Philippines in Manila has yet to officially decide on suspending the Forced Leave of Absence (FLOA) policy that was implemented in October 2012. 

In a phone interview, UP Vice President for Public Affairs Dr Prospero De Vera said on Saturday, March 16, he had information that UP Manila Chancellor Dr Manuel Agulto may have already suspended the policy. 

“The UP system operates on a decentralized (model). Since may problem na sa UP Manila, the Chancellor can already suspend the policy without affecting (the other units). I think UP Manila Chancellor Agulto has already suspended the policy,” De Vera said. Agulto could not be reached for confirmation.

De Vera explained that the UP system works in such a way that all units are independent of each other. This means unit heads, in their case, the Chancellor, has the freedom to implement and suspend policies as they see fit without affecting other units. 

UP Manila enforces a “no late payment” policy. In other words, students are required to pay their full tuition fee up front when they enroll. On October 23, the UP Manila administration released a memorandum barring students with unpaid accounts from being admitted to their classes.

De Vera said that as early as Tuesday, March 12, UP President Alfredo Pascual had given instructions to all units to monitor and track students having problems with tuition payments. 

He explained that this is important so that any policy that the UP president implements would apply to all units. Without tracking or monitoring the students, the UP President will not have enough basis to implement a certain policy.

No order yet

“The issue on providing financial support for indigent students wanting to enroll at UP was taken up yesterday at the Presidential Advisory Council meeting. UP President Alfredo Pascual instructed all Chancellors of autonomous universities to ensure that no UP student shall be deprived of financial support to be enrolled,” the UP statement read.

Insofar as the UP Manila campus is concerned, former College of Arts and Sciences Office of Student Services head Prof Andrea Martinez said no order on the FLOA has been released as of posting. 

Martinez said that even if the FLOA is suspended, it would be of no use since the deadline to apply for an LOA had passed and several students had already been on LOA. 

She said that in the College of Arts and Sciences, only two students were forced to go on LOA, Lorena (not her real name) and another graduating student. Lorena was was found dead at 3 in the morning of Friday, March 15, after she committed suicide over her unpaid tuition. 

Martinez said the case of the graduating student who’s now on LOA is also unfortunate because she has to wait for another year to take all the subjects she needs to graduate. 

STFAP review

De Vera said UP has completed the review of the Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP) and some of the proposed changes include increasing stipends for students in lower brackets.

He said Pascual has already approved the changes that include the doubling of stipends of bracket of E2 students from P2,000 per month to P4,000. 

One of the proposals that have yet to be approved is the recommendation that students in Bracket D and E1 also be provided with stipends. This, however, will be more difficult to implement because it will require an additional of P6 billion a year for the budget of the whole UP system. 

“The reforms I am pushing to simplify the STFAP application process and increase the financial aid for poor students are already planned for Board action next month. It is unfortunate it takes time to implement change. We can easily be overtaken, as we have been, by a sudden turn of events. But I am confident we can turn the tragedy into a greater resolve to act and make UP accessible to the poor,” Pascual said in a statement. 


The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chair Patricia Licuanan said the department fully supports a full investigation on what happened to the UP student. 

“I believe that suicide is always complex and must be approached with great sensitivity. Simplistic speculation on cause does not help anyone. And using (Lorena’s) apparent suicide to serve a political platform, no matter how valid, is unconscionable,” Licuanan said. 

“CHED supports a full investigation into the death… It further supports and is involved in efforts to rationalize tuition fees as well as financial assistance to students particularly in state colleges and universities,” she added.

Rationalize tuition

Malacañang, meanwhile, clarified that the CHED discourages policies that impose Forced Leaves of Absence. 

In a radio interview on Saturday, March 16, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said the CHED believes there are other ways to collect tuition such as withholding student grades or class cards. 

She added that the CHED is “always working to rationalize that particular policy — to rationalize tuition — and para pare-pareho ‘yung, kumbaga, ‘yung pamantayan kapag doon sa pagbibigay nung financial assistance doon sa mga students,” Valte said. 

Valte also assured the public that CHED will be on top of efforts to rationalize tuition fees and extend financial assistance to students in state colleges and universities. 

On Friday, March 15, UP students gathered for a vigil to protest education policies that make it difficult for poorer students to continue attending classes.

COMMUNITY. The UP Manila community comes together to show sympathy for a fellow student who took her life. Photo by Jigs Tenorio

The UP system’s budget was increased to P9.53 billion in 2013, a 63% increase from the P6.2 billion budget it had in 2012. 

The 2013 budget of UP is broken down as follows: P6.02 billion for personal services, P2.06 billion for maintenance and other operating expenses, and P1.45 billion for capital outlay. – with reports from Raisa Serafica/Rappler.com

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