As the academic year begins, Iskolars ng Bayan are greeted with another set of fees. The Management Cluster of the UP Cebu College has submitted a proposal, dated 18 April 2012, to institute P500-laboratory fee for the MGT 186 (Management Information Systems and Technology) which is a new course under the new Business Management Curriculum that was approved in 2009.
NKE (Nagkahiusang Kusog sa Estudyante), as a political and mass organization that has been in the forefront in protecting and promoting students’ rights and welfare, is firm in its opposition to the proposal and is calling for its junking, given the legitimate and justifiable grounds stated herein.
Not a Genuine Consultation
The proposal was approved by 177 out of 207 Management students consulted. However, the consultation was not genuine because the students concerned were not given ample time to study the proposal for them to have a scientific decision. In addition, some students admitted they approved the proposal because of fear.
Questionable costs are included in the schedules such as the construction of the laboratory room. For years, the government has not allocated even a single peso for the university’s Capital Outlay (CO), which is supposed to cover construction cost. In other words, the construction of such facility will start once the laboratory fees have been collected. However, the collection of fees is proposed to be implemented next semester or immediately after the UP Board of Regents (BOR)’ approval, which means that third year Management students taking the course next semester will be paying for a room that is non-existent.
There are other items in the schedule that should not be shouldered by the students. Some of the scheduled items are redundant since such items receive allocation from the national budget.
For instance, the proposal includes the monthly salary of a full-time teacher who will handle the course’s laboratory. Teachers’ salaries are already covered by the Personnel Services (PS) budget of the UP’s Annual Budget allocated by the government.
In addition, the proposal includes maintenance cost (which the proposal fails to specify what are to be maintained) and the power consumption of all equipment of the laboratory. These expenses are already covered by the Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) allocated by the government. In fact, this also makes our payment of P250 energy fee per semester redundant and questionable.
Where is the 300% TOFI?
In 2006, the UP Board of Regents approved then UP President Emerlinda Roman’s recommendation to increase the “tuition and other fees” by 300%. Despite the students, teachers and workers’ opposition, President Roman defended her proposal.
“The President said tuition is being adjusted to be able to increase stipends, increase the number of beneficiaries and to be able to improve facilities and have additional funds for MOOE. UP is not adjusting tuition only to break even or so that all of incremental income will go to stipends. Part of the incremental income should go to facilities improvement and MOOE. After all, students who will now pay more have a right to expect some improvements in the facilities” (“Matters Arising” p. 7).
Five years have already passed yet there has been no remarkable increase of STFAP beneficiaries despite the 300% tuition and other fees increase (TOFI). In a recent study conducted by UP Diliman school publication Philippine Collegian, “of the 3,364 STFAP applicants (UP Diliman) this semester, 2,325 also applied for student tuition loans, according to data from the Office of Student Scholarships and Services (OSSS)” (Borlaza n. p.) Meanwhile, to date, there are still facilities that have not yet been improved such as the “stiff-necked” electric fans in some of our classrooms.
If the “the incremental income should go to facilities improvement and MOOE”, why do Management students still have to pay for maintenance cost of MGT 186 Laboratory? Or is it just another profit-generation scheme of the University?
An Effect that Also Causes State Abandonment
Annually, the government is decreasing its public spending for basic social services such as education and health while spending large amount of the national budget to foreign-debt-servicing, militarization and even pork barrel. Recently, the government is lending the International Monetary Fund (where it borrows money from) $1 billion while millions of Filipinos grow hungry and poor.
In effect, state universities and colleges (SUCs) such as UP (which suffered from a P1.39B budget cut last 2010), are forced to find other means to generate income. Apparently, immediate means are increasing the tuition and imposing other fees such as laboratory fees to students.
Concurrently, increasing tuition and imposing other fees such as MGT 186 Lab Fee give more reason to the government to abandon public schools like UP. The government can now just decrease UP’s budget, while the administration willingly plays the role of profit-earners who fill the budget deficit which the government yearly imposes. This may fulfil the neo-liberal policies of the US-Aquino administration in its “Daang Matuwid”:
“We allocated P23.4 billion to 112 State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) in 2011. This is 1.7 percent lower than the P23.8 billion budget for 2010. We are gradually reducing the subsidy to SUCs to push them toward becoming self-sufficient and financially independent…” (Aquino n. p.)
This is contrary to the government’s Constitutional mandate that is to give the highest budget priority to education (Art. XIV, Sec. 5.5 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution).
Obviously, the proposal to institute P500 fee for the MGT 186 Laboratory is flawed and questionable; thus, we are appealing to all Management students to withdraw their signatures and to the UP Cebu Academic Council to junk it. Furthermore, the proposal is said to have been patterned from the past proposals that have already been approved and implemented. Therefore, we also call for the review of all other laboratory fees instituted.
On the other hand, it has been made clear that mechanisms like increasing tuition and imposing other fees tolerate the government in its abandonment of UP and all other public schools that it is constitutionally bound to fund and prioritize. Hence, we call all students to oppose any proposal to increase tuition and institute laboratory fees.
Meanwhile, we appreciate Pres. Pascual administration’s active solidarity with the students, teachers and workers in asserting higher budget as they also recognize that the main problem is state abandonment. However, we also urge them not to entertain and approve any proposal to increase tuition and impose fees. Doing so will make our efforts futile. We cannot kill the weeds when, at the same time, our actions are watering the weeds.
We also call the UP administration to uphold transparency especially on the tuition increment raised by the five-year old 300%-TOFI. This is mandated by the UP Charter of 2008 (Sec. 3(h), Republic Act 9500) that stipulates:
“The University shall… Provide democratic governance in the University based on collegiality, representation, accountability, transparency and active participation of its constituents, and promote the holding of fora for students, faculty, research, extension and professional staff (REPS), staff, and alumni to discuss non-academic issues affecting the University.”
Most importantly, we call on all students, teachers, workers and administrators of all UP units to unite in preserving the public and mass-oriented character of the University of the Philippines – a National University that educates and equips students to be citizens who are highly contributory in building the nation and in liberating fellow Filipinos from oppression.
Junk the 500-Peso Mgt. 186 Lab Fee!
Uphold Transparency on the 300% TOFI!
Continue the Fight for Greater State Subsidy!
Protect UP as University of the Filipino People!
Onward to a Nationalist, Scientific and Mass-Oriented Education!
Serve The People!
Aquino III, Benigno S. “2011 Budget Message of President Aquino”. Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines 24 Aug. 2010: n. p. Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines. Web. 28 Jun. 2012.
Borlaza, Isabella Patricia H. “2 in 3 UPD students under STFAP also apply for loans”. Philippine Collegian 17 Mar. 2012: n. p. Philippine Collegian. Web. 29 Jun. 2012.
Chaves, Mary Gretchen F. Letter to Ritchelita Galapate. 18 Apr. 2012.
“Matters Arising from the Minutes of the 1216th Meeting (15 December 2006)”. The University of the Philippines Gazette Jan-Mar 2007: 6-8. Office of the Secretary of the University and Board of Regents. Web. 28 Jun. 2012.
“Proposal to Institute Laboratory Fees for: MGT 186 (Management of Information Systems and Technology)”. UP Cebu Business Management Cluster. Feb 2012.