Tuition blues

Graduates Batch 2008

Fresh graduates of the Holy Family School, with Joseph Benjamin Parungo (right), modeling for this post

Schoolyear 2008-2009 officially opened yesterday. And for sure, many of us are among those who have been affected by the spiraling cost of college education in the Philippines.

Consider yourself lucky if you can still manage to send your children (or nephews/nieces) to school, for many high school graduates will have to put off their dreams of earning a degree because of the limited budget their parents have at their disposal.

This sad state of affairs is the topic of a news story we are reprinting below, which also talks of students transferring to public schools that, in turn, can no longer accommodate this massive influx.

Magkano lang ba tuition noong panahon natin? At the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, for instance, tuition in 1978 was 100 percent free and an incoming freshman had to shell out only P500 or less for the miscellaneous fees. (Tama ba, Remy and Ruby?)

But as the years went by, we also witnessed how education was becoming more and more a privilege rather than a right.

Here’s the news story we are reprinting from GMANews.tv:

High tuition has forced many to abandon college dreams

Thousands of college hopefuls might be forced to drop out of school this year, a Filipino youth group said, citing recent enrollment trends.

In a statement, Kabataang Pinoy said that the rising cost of education has forced more and more privately-schooled students to transfer to public institutions or stop studying altogether.

Records from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) show that in 1980, only 10 percent of college students were studying in state schools. By 1994, the number went up to 21 percent and currently accounts for almost 40 percent of tertiary population.

“But many of these transferees will find themselves dropping out of college. The problem is, there are no more rooms in state schools either,” Kabataang Pinoy President Dion Carlo Cerrafon said in a statement.

“State universities and colleges are confronted by similar problems. Poor education spending and annual budget cutbacks force state schools to impose enrolment quotas and increase fees, forcing many state scholars to leave,” he added.

As a result, Cerrafon said that access to public higher education institutions, which are the last resort for students who want to obtain a college degree, has become impossible for many young people intending to secure a diploma.

“While it is true that state universities and colleges offer tuition lower than private schools, tuition rate and miscellaneous fees in state schools and universities have seen the biggest increases in recent years, thus making it also inaccessible to ordinary students,” he explained.

Last year, the University of the Philippines (UP) – considered as the country’s premier state university – increased its tuition by 300 percent, from P300 to P1,000 per unit.

Another state institution, Eulogio Amang Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology (EARIST) in Manila implemented a 600 percent tuition hike, resulting in a 50 percent drop in enrollment last school year. From last year’s P15 per unit, EARIST now charges P100 per unit. Laboratory fees also increased from P25 to P500.

For its part, the Philippine Normal University (PNU) had already increased its tuition by 400 percent in 2003.

The country’s biggest state school in terms of population, the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), was also poised to hike its tuition by 525 percent last year but was forced to shelve its plan due to massive student protests. It would have increased tuition from P12.50 to P75 per unit.

Cerrafon said state schools are also forced to accept only a limited number of students due to budget cuts.

Last year, the University of the Philippines (UP) Office of Admissions said some 66,000 high school graduates all over the country applied for the UP College Admission Test (UPCAT).

But only 12,000 applicants are admitted each year. For example, some 14,000 applicants on the average seek to enter the UP College of Nursing but only 70 or 0.5 percent are admitted.

The same goes with the Polytechnic University of the Philippines College Entrance Test (PUPCET). PUP has 16 branches and extensions in Luzon and each unit conducts its own PUPCET.

In PUP’s main campus in Sta. Mesa, more than 50,000 thousand students take up the entrance test every year but only 10 to 13 thousand on the average are admitted. One of the lowest passing rates in PUPCET history was recorded in 2006 where only 7, 357 examinees passed the entrance test.

Cerrafon added that the increases in tuition and other fees will certainly have an effect on the enrolment of poor but deserving students coming from the provinces.

“Rising fees will certainly daunt bright students from depressed and remote areas of the country from enrolling in UP or other big state schools and eventually force them to settle for poorly-maintained state colleges in the provinces or worse, give up their dream of getting a college diploma,” Cerrafon said.

Studies from private think-tanks and international organizations show the effects of rising cost of education, even in public higher education institutions.

In June 2004, the Wallace report pegged college dropout rate at a staggering all-time high of 73 percent. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) National Commission of the Philippines, on the other hand, reported a measly 22 percent overall student survival from 1st to 4th year college. – GMANews.TV

[Click here to read this story on GMANews.tv.]

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