By Lindley Agustin

The University of the Philippines, like Hogwarts, is in grave danger – not from Death Eaters but from budget eaters. It tries to get out of the spooky forest while branches and twigs run through its legs. It trips, falls down, and gets up again though ignorant of what lies beyond the forest. UP now staggers.

The university (along with three others) has dropped from the list of the world’s top 300 schools. From the 314th spot in 2010, it fell to the 332nd this year.

Rep. Sonny Angara was right. Though, for some, surveys and rankings do not matter, they still serve as gauges, and this time, as warnings as well.

Last week, talk on the issue of the education budget cut echoed through the halls of Palma Hall, its old classrooms and horrible comfort rooms tainted by graffiti serving as forums for thought.

There was a time when the university was one of the best, its new and updated facilities breeding brighter minds and competent students. But that was several years ago. Now, among the large, lush trees of Diliman and the robust façade of the buildings lies a bulk of problems.

If the university were given an adequate budget, there would be no spooky forests.

If the budget were sufficient, no instructor would complain of his salary. An assistant professor could receive 36 percent more than what he gets now. An associate professor could get 53 percent more. A full professor, 51 percent.

Perhaps when better paid, no professor would fail to give his students high-caliber instruction. No professor would spend a whole period just talking about his life. No professor would need to bring overhead projectors to class. No professor would need or want to leave UP.

If the budget were sufficient, UP could accomodate a diverse assortment of students from aroundn the country, all with one thing in common – great minds. No student who passed the UPCAT would pass up the chance to go to the university.

If the budget were sufficient, a student would only need to pay the bare minimum tuition.

If the budget were sufficient, the libraries would always be properly lit.

If the budget were sufficient, UP would regain the distinction of being best school for agricultual studies from Mindanao State University. UP would once again excel in agricultural engineering, overtaking the Visayas State University. The best veterinarians would be from UP, not Benguet State University. (Meh, not sure about this paragraph though. SUCs stick together, though, you know, I believe in UP pride)

If the budget were sufficient, the Philippine Collegian wouldn’t waste space reporting on inadequate funding for the publication. There would a copy of the paper for every student. The members of the staff wouldn’t need to shoulder expenses out of their own pockets.

If the budget were sufficient, the UP Pep Squad could spend its winnings on team members’ personal wants. The gym could be fully renovated. The UP Fighting Maroons may finally find their glory.

For those pushing for a self-sufficient university as an escape route, you must accept the fact that if it happens, UP might lose its status as the country’s premier university. Columnist Boo Chanco writes, “I agree with the lawyer, ‘This is not sustainable.’ If UP continues down this path, it will be eclipsed by Ateneo and DLSU. UP can only ride the wave of its past glory for so long.”

A land grant from the court, the lawyer said in the column, takes about five to 10 years, add rallies around the campus and resistance from the most influential professors, it cannot be achieved. The land, he added, cannot be used for any other purposes than that intended, academic probably.

The UP Ayala Technohub still has empty buildings and that is because “contractual restrictions that prevent leases by call centers and other so-called low value activities.

UP does not deserve its situation right now. UP students always belong to the nation. It is their duty to give back. The Filipino people do not deserve meager returns.


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