June 13, 2018
QUEZON CITY – The National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP), a nationwide alliance of student councils, condemns the Duterte administration’s maneuvers to limit the beneficiaries of free higher education.
Limited slots, facilities in public schools
“Not all Filipino youth will benefit from free education because government policy pushes state universities and colleges (SUCs) to limit the slots available for enrollees. Worse, the Duterte administration does not intend to improve campus facilities so that more students can be accommodated,” said NUSP National Spokesperson Mark VIncent Lim.
In Bulacan State University, the country’s third largest SUC, only 10,000 out of the 22,000 students who took the entrance exam will be accepted. Students and their parents have trooped into student council offices to seek for help regarding admission.
Last June 4, Cagayan State University (CSU) released the result of its college admission test held simultaneously in different campuses, and only about 4,750 out of 10,523 takers will be admitted by the school. Students took to the internet their grievances against the low passing rate in the said exam.
An official of CSU said that the “tough” entrance exam is required by law. “The government’s reluctance to provide free education has led school administrators to impose stricter admission rules and reduce the number of beneficiaries of free education. Instead of pitting students against each other over the limited number of slots, the government must ensure access to free education by as many students as possible,” said Lim.
Tuition, fees collection continue in several LUCs
NUSP also criticizes continued collection of fees amid the free education law. According to Lim, the collection of tuition and other school fees (OSF) from students of local universities and colleges (LUCs) persist as only 78 of the 107 LUCs nationwide are providing free higher education for A.Y. 2018-2019. “Many students still have to suffer from paying exorbitant and dubious fees amidst the clamor of the youth that the government immediately provide free education for all,” said Lim.
In Metro Manila, students enrolled in only two (2) LUCs – Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) and Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Muntinlupa (PLMun) – out of 16 in the region will be granted free education. This means that thousands of students in LUCs still have to pay OSF this academic year. In the case of Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Marikina (PLMar), students who live outside Marikina City are charged P17,000 upon enrollment.
Return Service System
Students who benefit from free higher education are required to undergo a Return Service System (RSS) wherein they are required to render pro bono service to the university through student assistantship or socio-civic activities.
"Free higher education is a right and a state obligation. It should be provided without preconditions. The government cannot understand that education must already be free and must not be paid anymore. The RSS serves as payment for the ‘free education’ that students are supposed to enjoy by this time,” said Lim.
“As an income-generating scheme, RSS is compulsory such that students who will opt out of the RSS will be forced to pay full tuition and OSF. As a cost-cutting measure, RSS will give universities additional workforce from students who will render unpaid, forced labor. In several schools, free education beneficiaries must serve as student assistants in offices or libraries,” added Lim.
Rise for education
“Apparently, the fight for free education for all continues. We call on the Duterte administration to backpedal on neoliberal policies on education that have kept millions of Filipinos out of school, and to fulfill its constitutional obligation to ensure that quality education is accessible at all levels,” said Lim.
“On June 19, education advocates – students, parents, teachers, administrators, personalities, and public officials – will gather at the Rise for Education National Summit in UP Diliman to discuss the updates and prospects of our education campaign and to forge our plan of actions,” he ended.