Diliman on my Mind

As far as I know, UP has never had a facility for installment tuition payment. For Diliman, that is, during the 80s and 90s. A student has to pay one’s full tuition fee during the enrollment period.

UP has a Student Loan facility wherein a permanent employee of the University can stand in as the guarantor of a student. The loan covers the tuition fee of that student for that semester and can be settled up until the next enrollment period. But a lot of employees grew wary and weary of standing as guarantor due to non-payment of students and because UP collects from the guarantors via their salaries.

DOST scholars are lucky compared to most of the other government scholarship beneficiaries because a scholar only has to secure a certification from DOST and he/she is not required to pay for anything, even miscellaneous fees becasue being a DOST scholar, he/she belongs to the lowest STFAP bracket. Unlike those other government scholarships that I know of which necessitates the student to fork over first the tuition fee and reimbursement comes after about two semesters after.

About taking a leave, one can go AWOL or properly file for a Leave of Absence. LOA can only be done for two consecutive semesters. If one still cannot enroll after that, AWOL would be one’s status and that would eat up into the Maximum Residency Rule of the University. The MRR gives an extension of half of the normal years required to finish a course, i.e., a four-year course has a maximum of six years to finish, whereas a five-year course has seven and a half years. There are students who manage to graduate from the University despite going over the maximum years allowed depending on how well he/she fares in his/her filing of appeals to the College and the University, but those are rarities.

When one is accepted into the UP System, he/she can reserve his/her slot for a maximum of one year if for whatever reason he/she cannot enroll immediately after passing. I do not know if this year is counted in the MRR.

Getting into the UP System is formidable. Staying inside and graduating is grueling.

But there is a backdoor, unfortunately known only to the community. Am not telling. Shhhh!

There is also a legal way of coming in if one fails the UPCAT: finish at least 36 college units from another college or university then apply for transfer to the UP System. But. UP has a classification system for all accredited higher learning institutions in the country. A flat 1 (or 5 or A) grade from the school one came from does not translate to a flat 1 in the UP evaluation system. It depends on what bracket your school belongs to in UP’s classification scheme. How do I know this obviously inside info? Simple. I helped evaluate transfer applicants’ transcript of records. I converted their grades based on UP’s school brackets’ equivalents and compute their average grade earned outside of UP.

That was the scenario I am aware of decades ago during the time my sister and I were there when she was a DOST scholar and my brother-in-law was a CHEd scholar in a private university. That was when the tuition fee only averages about Php5,000.00 per semester in Diliman. Six or seven years ago, tuition fee increased by more than 300%, upping the tuition average to Php21,000.00. That amount is measly if the student came from exclusive high schools. But then, from what economic class/es do the majority of UP students come from?

The selection of students for a UP education is heavily favored against those who belong to the lower economic classes. Students who graduated from regular public schools are almost always guaranteed to fail the UPCAT. Even those who came from public special science schools and special education classes are not guaranteed a ticket to a UP tertiary education.

Of all the Science High Schools I know of, it is only Philippine Science High School who has the highest number of graduates who pass the UPCAT. Except, once upon a time, a relatively new special science class managed to have all of its graduates be accepted into the UP System via a backdoor for those who didn’t quite make the grade.

Look around UP Diliman. Most students are well-off. Parking lots are dotted with students’ cars. Well-heeled UP students eat shoulder-to-shoulder with Ateneans and Miriam students in the Katipunan upscale restos. Poor students are the minority in the University. Our premier State University isn’t immune anymore to our society’s discrimination against our financially-challenged brethren.

Poor students who hail from far-flung barrios who were lucky enough to pass the UPCAT, not only has the tuition problem to contend with, but also the academics. Lessons given in public high schools and elementary schools lag a long way from the lessons tackled in private schools in the cities. A private school education in the province is also not a guarantee that their lessons are at par with city private schools. Special Education classes and Science High Schools are the only ones who come close to the advanced lessons.

Quality education is not a right in our country, it is a privilege. Gone is the era of public schools’ glory and it can never be brought back in this materialistic society we have uncaringly (mis)shaped.

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