Filipino Students Successfully Foil Huge Tuition Fee Hikes

PUP students

Ang Bayan,  April 7, 2010

Students of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) have successfully foiled planned tuition fee hikes at the university.

Protests have stopped the proposed 1,567% tuition fee increase (from P12 to P200 per unit) for incoming freshmen this coming school year. Among the courses that would have been affected are laboratory-intensive courses and those that require board examinations which include courses in the colleges of Engineering, Science, Arts, Computer Management and Information Technology, Education and Architecture. Fee increases are also planned in the College of Law from the current P500 to P1,000 per unit. Increases in miscellaneous fees were also proposed.

According to the Sandigan ng Mag-aaral para sa Sambayanan (SAMASA) which led the campaign against the tuition fee increase, the administration of Dr. Dante Guevarra continues to deny the youth their right to education at the so-called poor man’s university. Guevarra has asserted that tuition fee increases are necessary for the improvement of university facilities. But Central Student Council President Chaser Soriano said students seeking affordable education would have nowhere to go should the tuition fee hike be implemented.

Bayan Muna Rep. and senatorial candidate Satur Ocampo, himself a former student of the PUP expressed solidarity with the students. He said the PUP administration should not hike tuition fees and instead unite with the community in demanding a bigger budget for education.

Meanwhile, the Kabataan Partylist demanded the creation of an emergency fund for state universities like the PUP. Kabataan Partylist Rep. Raymond Palatino said the continued reduction of the government’s education budget has resulted in the growing number of out-of-school youth.

PUP Student Regent Donna Pascual said the Arroyo regime should also be held accountable for its abandonment of the entire education system and youth seeking education. The regime is cutting back on expenses for education while jacking up the budget for military spending and debt servicing.

There are 62,000 students and 3,700 teachers and employees in PUP’s 21 branches and extensions. But the mere P661 million allocated for the university has even been cut by P43 million this year, compelling the PUP to beg for more funds from businessmen, politicians and others.

The students conducted a series of protest actions against the tuition fee hike. On March 19, some 1,000 students walked out of their classes in protest. They threw out the school’s dilapidated chairs, tables and other furniture and set these on fire as a symbol of protest against the threat of tuition fee increases. On March 22, the students held another protest action and again took out dilapidated furniture. They also protested at the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) before noon.

On March 23, some 500 students walked out of the PUP gate in Sta. Mesa, Manila as the administration prohibited the media from covering the protest actions inside the school premises. They showed the press and the residents outside the PUP their anger and again set fire to the dilapidated furniture.

On March 24, students in PUP’s 21 branches nationwide launched simultaneous protest actions. The students tried to take the dilapidated chairs to the CHED but were prevented from doing so by the police. Five student leaders were arrested, brought to the office of the Manila Police District and charged with theft for taking university property.

In the afternoon, students of the PUP and the University of the Philippines in Diliman and Los Baños trooped to the CHED. CHED Chairman Emmanuel Angeles promised the students that the PUP will not proceed with the tuition fee increase. The students also demanded the release of the detained student leaders.

Some 1,000 youth and students protested on March 29 in time for the scheduled BOR meeting where the planned tuition fee increase was supposed to be approved. The protest action forced the BOR to cancel the meeting and junk the proposal. That same afternoon, the five student leaders were released after the administration dropped the charges against them.

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