Students at PUP Protest 2,000% Tuition Fee Hike
Just as protests are heating up in California where there were massive protests all over the state on March 4th and a caravan of students, teachers, and unions heading up to the state capital on March 22nd, protests in the Philippines are literally heating up.
The administration of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines is proposing a tuition fee increase from P12 per unit to P200 per unit, almost 2,000 percent! Obviously, the students aren’t having it and the national democratic youth movement is seeking ways to stop this from happening. One of the main youth organizations that is helping to take charge at this time is Kabataan Partylist, a political party tied to BAYAN that actually has its own representative in congress representing the needs and issues of youth and students in the Philippines.
The students, nearly a thousand of them, threw armchairs, tables and papers down to the ground floor and set these on fire. Many of them hanged streamers from the state university’s main building denouncing the proposal.
In a statement, PUP student regent Donna Pascual said the proposal means an increase from P12 to P200 per unit of tuition. “(The tuition increase) is expected to affect all incoming freshmen in the university,” she said, estimating the affected students at about 50,000.
PUP is a state university where most of its students come from the poor. “PUP is supposed to be the most accessible university with its P12 tuition fee. What would happen now to our poor students and high school graduates? They have nowhere to go to,” said Chaser Soriano, student council president.
“Arroyo’s administration cannot wait to waive its responsibilities especially in tertiary education,” Crisostomo [a member of Kabataan Partylist] said. Despite being mandated by the Constitution to have the highest share in the national budget, the allocation for education had decreased in the nearly 10 years that Arroyo was president.
According to the National Union of Students of the Philippines and Kabataan Partylist, 61 other schools in Luzon and Visayas will increase tuition by up to 20 percent by next semester.
Over at the Kabataan website they report:
Chaser Soriano, Central Student Council President-elect said that they have long feared the imposition of a tuition fee hike since the establishment of the PUP College of Technology last year wherein incoming freshmen were charged P200 per unit.
Pascual said that the proposed tuition increase is a result of the yearly budget cut in state colleges and universities. In the approved 2010 national budget, PUP budget was reduced by P43 million to only P661 million for the entire PUP System.
“What the administration did was to test the waters by forming a new college. We sense a ‘pattern’ as they now plan to impose the new fee in the Colleges of Accountancy and Office Administration and Business Teacher Education.”
Soriano said that, if approved, the proposed fee hike will affect an estimated 50,000 incoming freshmen next semester.
“PUP is supposed to be the most accessible university with its P12 per unit tuition. What happens now to our poor students and high school graduates, wala na silang pupuntahan.”