Can Grade 10 students take the UPCAT this year?
MANILA, Philippines – The process used to be simple: if a student wants to enter the University of the Philippines (UP), he applies and takes the entrance exam in his senior or 4th year in high school.
This has caused major confusion among students, parents, and schools, however, with the introduction of the government's K to 12 program.
K to 12 adds two years to the current 4-year high school program starting academic year 2016-2017. This means most high schools across the country, whether public or private, won't produce graduates.
So the big question this year is: can 4th year or Grade 10 students take the UP College Entrance Examination (UPCAT) and enter the state university in 2016?
"Only those mostly coming from private high schools with accelerated programs," said UP president Alfredo Pascual on Saturday, July 18, during a brunch with the university's alumni who are now in the media.
UP vice president for public affairs Prospero de Vera explained to Rappler that "high schools with accelerated programs" are the so-called early implementors of the K to 12 program.
These are the high schools which acquired a permit from the Department of Education (DepEd) to accelerate their students for two year levels so they can graduate by 2016.
"There has to be a certification that the UPCAT taker is graduating in 2016," De Vera said.
Can schools apply for permits this late if their curricula already have units equivalent to the requirements of K to 12 before this?
"It will depend [on DepEd]," De Vera said.
On July 13, the Commission on Education issued a memo that says those who can enroll in college in 2016 are expected graduates of public and private schools who started their K to 12 implementation in earlier years, with permits from DepEd.
There are only 391 such high schools now. (READ: Which students can colleges admit in 2016?)
If each of these high schools produce, for example, 100 graduates, this means only about 39,100 can enter the 2,299 of colleges and universities across the country in 2016.
Pascual said that because of the dramatically reduced number of high school graduates expected next year, UP estimates that only about 20,000 will take the UPCAT in 2015.
Last year, about 87,000 took the UPCAT, considered the most competitive college entrance exam in the country.
UPCAT applications go online for the first time this year. – Rappler.com