Published on Page A25 of the December 16, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer
The cost of education at the state-run University of the Philippines will be triple the current rate starting next year.
Voting 7-0, the UP Board of Regents upheld the controversial proposal to adjust tuition and other fees at the state university, despite mounting opposition from student groups that voiced their protests yesterday at two of the UP?s yearly traditions: the Lantern Parade and the Oblation Run.
The board approved president Emerlinda Roman?s recommendation to impose a 300-percent increase in tuition, which had not been adjusted since 1989. The increase will apply to incoming freshmen next school year.
With the approval, the cost of an academic unit shall be raised from P300 to P1,000 on the Diliman, Manila and Los Baños campuses, and from P200 to P600 on the Baguio, Visayas and Mindanao campuses. Miscellaneous fees shall also be increased in varying degrees across the campuses.
The BOR, chaired by Commission on Higher Education chief Carlito Puno, also approved the revised Socialized Tuition Financial Assistance Program, which categorizes students according to their financial needs.
UP officials said the modified STFAP would ensure that students who could not afford the tuition would not have to pay, and would even receive stipends of up to P12,000 per semester.
Under the new tuition scheme, only the ?millionaires? among the students would bear the brunt of the full rates, while the less affluent would pay rates corresponding to their income brackets, the officials noted.
The decision enraged students who had gathered in a massive demonstration outside the College of Law building, where the meeting took place. Upon learning the news, dozens rushed to the lobby to confront the regents. But they later calmed down and peacefully left the Malcolm Hall after their leaders stepped in to pacify them.
University Student Council chair Juan Paolo Alfonso said more protests were being planned in response to the new development. Student Regent Raffy Jones Sanchez, on the other hand, described the decision of the board as an exercise in ?shamelessness.?
?This administration is worse than the House of Representatives,? he said in an apparent reference to the failed bid of administration legislators to effect a Charter change through a constituent assembly.
Sanchez, along with faculty regent Roland Simbulan, did not attend the meeting in protest of the sudden change in venue. The original venue of the meeting was Quezon Hall, but the officials later moved it to Malcolm Hall to avoid a confrontation with students who had ?barricaded? the entrances to the administration building.
At 3:30 p.m., UP vice president for legal affairs Marvic Leonen attempted to enter the hall, only to be blocked by students who had formed a chain around the entrance, amid hoots and loud chants.
Earlier in the day, officials announced the cancellation of the Christmas Lantern Parade, citing security concerns. But some students said the affair went on as scheduled, even if some participants dropped out of the parade.
Some 30 members of the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity streaked naked for their annual ?Oblation Run.? Spokesperson Joselito Caparino said this year?s run was also in protest against the tuition increase, Charter change, and the withholding of funds of the Philippine Collegian, UP?s official student publication.