UP Diliman suspends collection of tuition
The University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman has suspended its collection of tuition for the first semester of the coming school year, which begins in August.
In an announcement, the Office of the University Registrar said the suspension came pending “clearer guidelines” from the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) on free tuition in state universities and colleges (SUCs).
The registration process will push through until validation of courses, but no assessment and collection of fees will be made, the announcement said.
UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan said that until the “government is clear about its plan,” tuition and miscellaneous fees will not be collected from students for the first semester.
“[The government is] not clear yet as to how much subsidy there will be: partial or complete, and who will be eligible,” he said in a text message. “Until they clarify, we will not collect any amount from students.”
Tan, however, said the decision was not yet final. He also said the university may still collect from students later in the year, once the guidelines were released.
Proposed law for signing
Sen. Bam Aquino said Tan was right when he said the university would not collect the fees until the proposed law on the universal access to quality tertiary education had been signed.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said the subsidy that UP was supposed to get from the government was not clear because there was no law yet.
“It has not been signed. So what subsidy are you talking about?” Drilon said.
Aquino hopes President Duterte signs soon into law the measure that would provide free tuition in SUCs starting in the second semester.
Lapsing into law
Aquino said if the President failed to sign the approved bill on free education in SUCs, it would lapse into law on Aug. 5.
He said the law would see SUCs providing free tuition and miscellaneous fees in the second semester of school year 2017.
Aside from SUCs, the new law would cover local universities and colleges, and trade schools.
P8B from House pork
Currently, SUCs do not charge tuition in the first semester because of the P8 billion inserted by the Senate in the 2017 national budget for SUCs.
The Senate said the P8 billion came from the pork barrel, funds for pet projects of lawmakers, the House of Representatives had approved.
Jose Dalisay Jr., vice president for public affairs of the UP System, said Tan’s decision was “based on his appreciation of Diliman’s situation.”
Asked whether the suspension would apply to other UP constituent units, Dalisay said, “It is possible but the decision will be made by each constituent unit depending on their circumstances.”
8 constituent universities
The UP System is composed of eight constituent universities — Diliman, Baguio, Los Baños, Manila, Mindanao, the Visayas, Cebu and Open University — on 17 campuses nationwide.
Dalisay said “all [are] in favor of free tuition, but are
dealing with the details of implementation.”
“Our strong hope is that the free tuition bill will be signed into law by the President as soon as possible, so we can have a more coherent, unified and simplified implementation of the free tuition program,” he said.
The announcement of UP Diliman reminded students of the ongoing application process so they could avail themselves of the CHEd free tuition for 2017.
In April, the CHEd and the Department of Budget and Management released a joint memorandum on the allocation of P8 billion for SUCs.
The memorandum detailed the implementation guidelines on free tuition grants to students from government-owned universities nationwide.
UP students and youth groups welcomed Tan’s announcement.
“This is great economic relief to students bearing the cross of UP’s socialized tuition system for several years and should render the online scholarship process futile,” said the Kabataan party-list group.
The socialized tuition system provides “tuition discounts” based on the paying capacity of a student’s family.
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