By Nicole-Anne Lagrimas
As the deciding body for tuition discount appeals deliberated Thursday on the cases of students dissatisfied with their initial bracket results, University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman students repeated their call for the junking of the system that made the appeals necessary in the first place.
The group of students – members and non-members of mass organizations alike – gathered in front of Vinzons Hall for a program, protesting the continued implementation of the Socialized Tuition System (STS), which they called an “ineffective and profiteering scheme,” by the UP administration.
The Deliberations Committee on Scholarships and Financial Assistance (DCSFA), composed of administration, faculty and student representatives, is tasked to decide on the discount appeals of around 500 UP students.
University Student Council (USC) Councilor and Basic Student Services Committee Head Donn Bernal said that the deliberations weighed the merit of the narratives the students submitted.
Bernal, who participated in the deliberation along with other USC officers, said, “Babasahin yung kwento (ng mga students), then ide-deliberate kung sustain ba ang bracket niya, o tataas o bababa.”
If the body does not reach a consensus, arguments would be raised until the matter is settled, or the tuition fee of the student for another year decided. Deliberations last several sessions–another one will be held in July 26, according to Bernal.
Kate Raca, Education and Research Committee head of the Student Advancement for Democratic Rights in UP, said the goal was for all misbracketed students’ appeals to be granted, adding that a full discount – free tuition – would be the most optimal resolution.
The group then proceeded to Mendiola to join fellow students from other universities and colleges in a larger mobilization, dubbed “Pambansang Walkout ng Kabataan” protesting the continued rise of tuition and other school fees in the country.
The latest spike in fees was approved in June this year when the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) approved an increase in tuition and other school fees in 304 private higher education institutions (HEIs) across the country.
The STS had replaced the Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP) in 2013 after STFAP was deemed as “no longer responsive to the needs of UP students.”
STS, where an online questionnaire would be the sole deciding factor of students’ tuition discount, had been in the works since 2011 but was first implemented in the first semester of 2014.
The bracketing system has been criticized for its “ineffectivity,” resulting in hundreds to thousands of misbracketed students, who have since been calling for either the abolishment or the reform of the system. #