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MANILA, Philippines – More than 20,000 aspiring national scholars took the Polytechnic University of the Philippines’ (PUP) first face-to-face entrance tests on Sunday, January 28, after a three-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
From 2021 to 2023, the PUP’S College Admission Evaluation, done online, served as its alternative qualifying assessment as a result of the pandemic.
Charie Ledesma, 48, had three of her children already graduated from the state-owned university and still accompanied her youngest daughter to take its entrance test this year. The motivation for free tuition and quality teaching in the university makes her trust PUP the most for her children’s education.
“Aside sa hindi mo na iisipin yung bayad, masasabi mo na talagang tamang desisyon na dito kami sa PUP nagpa-aral ng anak, kapareha lang ng mga may bayad. Nakita ko naman dun sa tatlong anak ko na okay yung naging outcome,” Ledesma said.
(Aside from not minding the tuition, we can really say that it’s the right decision for our children to enroll in PUP. It’s just like other universities with tuition. I have seen good outcomes from my three children.)
Ledesma said that being a PUP graduate helped her three children to be swiftly employed right after graduating from the university.
In a 2023 survey by employment platform JobStreet, PUP tops the most preferred school of Filipino employers at 23.39% in hiring new employees due to its graduates being “effective team players in the workplace.”
PUP is also among the four Philippine universities that recently debuted in the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings in Asia for 2024, ranking 51-100 alongside the University of San Carlos in Cebu.
Jhon Von Jewelrick Alzate, a 17-year-old Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics student, took a 24-hour commute from Borongan, Eastern Samar to Santa Mesa, Manila just to take the annual admission test. Applying for the university’s psychology program, he is hoping to be one of the Iskolars ng Bayan (nation’s scholars) from PUP.
Alzate, the eldest among three siblings, relies on his father’s side hustle in a small hardware store in Samar, which gives them just enough money to provide for daily needs. Such a financial constraint limits Alzates’ dreams for his education, including his capability to take an entrance exam to Manila.
Stumbling upon a group of his co-examinees on Facebook, however, helped him garner donations online for him to travel and take the exam.
Despite being challenged by financial requirements and the school being far from his home, Alzates said he is determined to pursue his education at PUP due to its tuition grants and the higher chance of having greater opportunities after graduation.
Alzates said he dreams of being a psychologist, and advocate for mental health among Filipinos. He said studying at PUP would help him become closer to his dreams and the opportunities that the university can give to financially challenged students outside Luzon.
PUP is among the beneficiaries of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act of 2017, which mandates free tuition and other fees for all state universities and colleges (SUCs) in the country.
Before the law, its undergraduate students paid P12 per unit since 1979.
Aside from free tuition and international rankings, PUP President Manuel Muhi told Rappler that despite the university’s lack of budget, PUP receives around 100,000 national applicants annually due to its top performance in nationwide board exams.
In the 2023 Bar examinations, PUP ranked 1st among law schools with 51-100 candidates in the all-candidates category. It also produced topnotchers in the recent licensure examinations for civil engineers and certified public accountants.
The PUP administration has called on Congress to increase its budget so it can maintain its services to thousands of students relying on free tuition. According to the National Expenditure Program (NEP) of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), PUP was given a P2.8-billion budget for 2024.
Muhi also debunked the allegations of the return of tuition collections in the university after the Senate Committee on Higher, Technical, and Vocational Education approved Senate Bill No. 2248 last October. The National Polytechnic University (NPU) bill seeks to grant institutional and fiscal autonomy to PUP.
PUP Vice President for Student Affairs and Services Tomas Testor said there are over 98,000 PUPCET applicants this year with around 20,000 taking the exams by batch. The majority of the applicants come from the National Capital Region (NCR). – Rappler.com
Chris Burnet Ramos is an Aries Rufo fellow. A graduating journalism student from PUP Manila, he currently writes for the progressive sector and the studentry as a senior news writer for PUP College of Communication’s The Communicator.