Fellows Speak

In-depth study, further review needed
By Roland G. Simbulan
First Posted 05:54:00 12/31/2006

(Published on page A12 of the December 31, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.)

THE Board of Regents unanimously approved on Dec. 15 a revised Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP).

As a result, tuition and other fees for incoming freshmen and transferees starting schoolyear 2007 will increase from P300 to up to P1,500 per unit.

Unknown to many, including those on the BOR, implementing the higher tuition and other fees through the revised STFAP mechanism recommended by the Atanacio committee, presents many highly questionable features, which must be addressed.

This is the reason it could be claimed that the BOR may not have known what it approved as it was not properly informed. The BOR simply believed the rhetoric of UP President Emerlinda Roman and her officials that the new tuition rates were good for the students, UP and the nation.


The following points highlight the many inconsistencies in the new STFAP:

1. In determining who are eligible under STFAP, the university starts with the premise that the students and parents of STFAP applicants conceal or under-report their income or assets. (This is written in the Atanacio report. This statement convicts all applicants as sinners or liars without due process.)

Because of this prejudgment, methods were devised to determine the true income of the family. To do this, an income function was derived (Yj = Bj Xij + yiAij + ej).

For details, please read Appendix A?Estimating the income function?on page A-1 of the report by the Atanacio Committee to Review STFAP. (See boxed story below)

What are the questionable features of the components of the income function that must be studied further?

In Table 8.2 of the Atanacio report several assets were given multiplier coefficients to be able to put a monetary value.

For example, a television set has 0.1552188, washing machine 0.1302926, motorbike 0.1206098, car 0.1058442, and aircon 0.0752214.

First, if these coefficients are used as multiplier of the value of the assets listed above, what monetary value would they use? Washing machines and TV sets are fully depreciated after five years.

Second, how did they arrive at the value of the coefficients and test its applicability in real life?

Relevant to the STFAP, a car has a lower multiplier coefficient than a motorbike, which is the popular vehicle among the poorer people because it provides them with mobility at a cheaper price. Using a motorbike, however, is riskier than using a car.

More so, an aircon has only 0.0752214, and a TV set, 0.1552188. It is obvious that only richer families are using aircon in their houses.

Assets, which more or less could be classified as luxuries, are given smaller multiplier coefficients, leading to a lower value that will be contributed to the predicted income.

Third, among occupational groups, a clerk has a higher multiplier coefficient (0.1340631) than a manager (0.117789). This means that the higher-paying occupations will have lower contributions to the predicted income due to their lower multiplier coefficients.

Poorer families will be having a bigger increase in predicted income due to the bigger multiplier coefficient.

2. Results and implications of using the income function

Based on STFAP data from 2003 to 2006, applying the income function used by the Atanacio committee consistently reduced the percentage of Bracket E awardees from 61-63 percent to 15-18 percent based on the predicted income.

Using the reported income as basis for classification, the percentage of Bracket C recipients was 20-21 percent. But when the income function was applied Bracket C became the dominant group of STFAP awardees, as they now comprised 52-57 percent.

There were more Bracket D awardees (27-30 percent) than Bracket E awardees (16 percent).

The contention that an income function eliminates not only biases or subjectivity in assessing the value of assets but also errors attributed to misdeclaration of income is mathematically correct.

But sheer math made many STFAP applicant families richer after a fraction of a minute of computer-aided calculations.

The result: They now have to pay P300 to P600 per unit plus full matriculation fees. But even those in the poorest group (Bracket E), became richer due to the income function. Their bracket moved to Bracket Bfrom nonpaying to paying P600 per unit plus miscellaneous fees.

Adopting the income function for estimating the income of STFAP applicants to determine their bracket succeeded in increasing the collectible tuition for UP. But is UP really doing justice to the students and not simply playing mathematics in the guise of unearthing the concealed or under-reported income and assets of the parents to collect more money in the form of tuition?

3. The maximum income as the ultimate basis of STFAP bracket

Estimates of income based on the income function do not end there. Some socioeconomic variables are given nominal value, which is added to the predicted income.

The increase, though small, pushed upward the bracketing of some STFAP awardees as shown in the simulated STFAP data from 2003 to 2006. It is important to point this out because the final bracket of STFAP awardees will be determined using the outcome of the three income classesreported, predicted and maximum. The highest will be the basis for the final STFAP bracket.

Thus, the STFAP brackets B, C, D and E mean many complications. But adopting the procedures have succeeded in decreasing STFAP nonpaying grantees from 62 percent, if the reported income is the sole basis, to 14-15 percent using the predicted plus maximum income estimates.

The reliability of the estimates should be further validated and the income function for computing the predicted income must be further refined.

How correct are the multiplier coefficients that will declare that an applicant is rich, thus making him or her not deserving of being in Bracket E? We are human beings and imperfect! Should this be the way to commit errors!

4. Shared responsibility between the student and the applicants parents, legal guardian or spouse

The intention of having the applicants parents, legal guardian or spouse certify the truthfulness and completeness of the information that their son, daughter, dependent or spouse had furnished in the application, together with all the attached documents, is valid. But the statement I authorize the university to conduct a bank credit investigation and send a fact-finding team to??

For those who have nothing to hide, as the proponent may argue, have nothing to be afraid of. But the statement is also tantamount to surrendering ones individual privacy to UP. To some, this could be acceptable.

Right to privacy

How about the rest who are aware of their rights to privacy as one of the Bill of Rights enshrined in our Constitution? They may simply be scared of allowing UP to conduct bank credit investigations. As a result, they may not apply for STFAP.

Automatically, they will pay P1,000 per unit. Then, the objective of increasing UP income through higher tuition rates is attained. Is this the proper way of raising funds for UP, which is championing human rights and individual privacy?

5. Those who can afford should pay more.? This is the principle on which the tuition increase is based. It is difficult to argue against this. But what is the family income referred to in such a claim?

Are the families with an annual income of P81,000 up to P 135,000 rich enough so that they shall now pay P300 per unit plus full miscellaneous fees? They are exempt from paying tuition in the previous STFAP.

Are the families earning P135,001 a year or P11,250 a month rich enough to pay P600 per unit plus miscellaneous fees?

Again, it should be remembered that the reported annual income of P80,000 or P130,000 may increase 2 to 3 times when the assets are monetized under the income function.

(Simbulan is a professor and faculty regent, UP System and a member of the UP Academic Employees Union.)

Issues Pertaining to the STFAP Re-bracketing and Tuition Fees

By  Roland G. Simbulan
Professor and Faculty Regent,
U.P. System

I had earlier made an analysis of the Socialized Tuition Fee and Assistance Program (STFAP) Committee Report, and that critique was published by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, December 31, 2006.  Herein is the summation of that analysis that I submitted to the BOR and UP President which I dedicate for the Filipino youth, whom I hope  may still continue to have access to the excellent education that  U.P. provides.         

The basis of introducing by the Atanacio committee of a new mechanism, the income function, the 4th mechanism supplementing the previous three other mechanisms under the present STFAP, is to counter the supposed misrepresentation and lying by UP students regarding the true state of their family incomes. 

But this suspicion about the tendency of UP students to misrepresent their true family incomes is not my main disagreement with the introduction of a new mechanism, the income function, to supplement the other three previous mechanisms of the STFAP.  My main concerns are the following:  (a) the arbitrary application of a sample from the national population to the families of incoming UP student population to determine the coefficients of the income function; and (b) the unrealistic premise, to “hold all else the same” or as they put it “ceteris paribus”.

(a) To apply coefficients for the income function Yj = BjXij + yAij + ej derived from a sample of the national population through correlation to the income characteristics of the families of incoming freshmen students from 2003-2006 is statistically flawed.  For it cannot be immediately assumed that the families of incoming freshmen students for the period mentioned as well as of other future incoming UP students are typical of the whole national population.  There is no inductive basis for this assumption derived from samplings in the past  of the incomes of families of incoming UP students.  This method of applying the characteristics of a sample of families from the national population to the families of incoming UP students simply commits the logical fallacy of accident or moving from the general to the particular.  To use this faulty sampling method as the Atanacio committee did in order to justify a new bracketing through simulation techniques with “data constraints” smacks of scientific incorrectness.   It resulted in turning those students formerly fully tuition-exempt and with an allowance of P6000/semester to having to pay now the present P300/unit, which also makes the method unjust.

(b) It is contended by the proponents that in the income function “asset quantities, not values, are used in the estimate procedures so that issues about depreciation and asset valuation (which I brought up in the critique of the Atanacio report ) do not arise.”  With this premise, they present  examples to drive home their point:  “Thus, holding all else the same (underlining mine) a family with more motorbikes is likely to have higher income than one with fewer, similarly, holding all else the same, a family with more cars is likely to have a higher income than one with fewer.”  But all else is not the same in the real world, that is why I brought up the question of depreciation vis-à-vis that of applying an ideal mathematical equation (with questionable coefficients even) to re-bracket incoming UP students.  Indeed, playing mathematics can turn the world upside down.  For a family of an incoming UP student to possess ten 1979 Toyota Corolla cars worth P75,000 each (or P750,000 for the whole batch) at present current value due to depreciation is no match financially in terms of car value to one owning a single Toyota Altis worth P900,000.  But in the world of the proponents, “all things are held to be the same” ceteris-paribus, where everyone has equal influence on the economy, where there are no monopolies, no powerful politicians nor jueteng lords.  To use the income function like a magic wand transforming the motorbikes, cars and appliances owned by families of incoming UP students into having the same values which do not even depreciate is to live in a nether world away from the hustle and bustle of real life where things and people grow old and depreciate.

The proponents chide the undersigned by implication that if I do not have any “superior and much less costly source of information that can independently confirm the true income status of the applicants”, then I must hold my peace.  I do not claim that I have succeeded to formulate a superior mechanism, but this fact does not make the “income function” of the Atanacio committee an acceptable method (as I have pointed out) “against which the results of the STFAP screening procedure can be compared”.           

On the resulting bracket assignment

The proponents contend that incoming UP students with incomes from P80,000-P135,000, who are mostly in bracket 5 in the present STFAP P80,000-P130,000) and are tuition-fee exempt and enjoying a semestral allowance of P6,000 must now pay the present full tuition fee of P300/unit to P600/unit plus miscellaneous fees.  Their argument is based on NSCB data for 2003 and with these they aver that “using relative poverty as the norm, families in the P80,000-P135,000 income range are well within the fifth to the seventh decile of the 2003 income distribution.”  They conclude that:  “This puts them above the usual concept of relative poverty which refers to the bottom 30-40 of families in the income distribution.”  Would students with families who under the present STFAP bracket 5 introduced in 1989 are fully-tuition exempt now be made to pay the present full-tuition of P300 or higher by simply using “the usual concept of relative poverty”?  (It is not consolation at all to say as the proponents do that the P300/unit will not be the full tuition anymore under the new STFAP scheme since it isP1,000/unit and P1,500 for the extra rich.)  What has caused the proponents to make a complete 300-degree turn-about from its former position that those in the present STFAP bracket 5 are deserving of tuition fee discount to the realization that they are not so deserving?  After all these 15 years of implementing the current STFAP, are they saying that they have made a mistake after all in allowing those students in bracket 5 to put one over them?  This blatant and unjust change of policy towards the status of families of students formerly enjoying full tuition fee discount could only be explained by the fact that they need to squeeze more revenues from UP students as government appropriations for UP is being constantly reduced.  But why pass immediately the burden of supporting their education to the students as private profit-oriented universities are wont to do  taking their students as so many customers.

Morever, apart from the resort to the “usual concept of relative poverty”, they are using old NSCB data of 2003 to justify the new bracketing.  If we instead use the latest data of the NSO, given below as Table 1, we will see that the income bracket of P80,000-P135,000/year is way below the necessary income for a family of six (the average size of a Filipino family) to meet the daily cost of living by June 2006 which is 201,626/year (552.24/day x 365 days a year, computed from Table 1) for the whole Philippines and P245,572/year (675.54/day x 365 days a year) for NCR.  Even using 2003 data for daily cost of living and not resorting to the “usual concept of relative poverty”, which does not show the real economic capacity of a family in relation to the prices of goods and services, those in the seventh decile of FIES of NSO (Table 2) of P134,473 income/year still fall below the required income/year to meet the daily cost of living in 2003 which is P168,630/year (462/day x 365 a year, from Table 1) for the whole Philippines and P203,761/year (P558.25/day x 365 days) for NCR.

Table 1:  Daily Cost of Living for a Family of Six, 2001-2006 (June)

Year                     2001          2002          2003         2004           2005     2006, June
Philippines            434          445.2           462          501.6          534.8     552.4
NCR                  525.21          536.7      558.25       605.17        650.17     675.54
Source: NSO


Table 2:  Family and expenditure survey 2003 (FIES) (National)

Decile                       Average Income                    Average Expenditure
Poorest                             26,467                                     28,588
Second                              42,354                                     43,556
Third                                  55,052                                     55,096
Fourth                                68,863                                     66,147
Fifth                                    85,391                                     80,204
Sixth                                 106,029                                     98,701
Seventh                           134,473                                   120,972
Eight                                175,784                                   152,501
Ninth                                245.939                                   204,834
Richest                            545,836                                   393,191
 Source:  NSO


On the right of privacy

What I state in my critique of the Atanacio report is that the University must not behave like a bank or credit investigator, requiring all families of UP students applying for tuition discounts to consent in writing of having their assets and properties be counter-checked by a UP inspector.  It is misplaced to compare UP students who wish to avail of tuition discounts to someone applying for a bank loan of credit card.  The University is funded by the people’s taxes (including those of the families of Up students) and is non-profit public service institution unlike a bank or a private credit company.  As it is, in the present STFAP, we already have many very stringent requirements, including the sending of inspectors to the homes of UP students, before a student can qualify for tuition discount.  Subjecting the families of UP students to filling up a form to authorize a more thorough evaluation of its assets and properties as the regular practice of banks is to invade further the privacy of the families of UP students.

It is also important for the public to know the real merit of Tuition Fee Increase.

1. It will send the wrong signals to the parents and lawmakers alike if we will not tell the truth that the tuition fee increase is NOT THE SOLUTION TO THE NEGLECT OF UP.  It can only provide some upkeep but not big enough to cause substantial difference to UP facilities.  If we are to align ourselves to world class universities, fund flows will be very enormous.  The question is whether this should be raised by increasing tuition fees.  This brings us to the next issue.

2. The increase in tuition fees will have an effect of skewed student population shifting towards the richer families.  This will disproportionately lead to a UP student populace occupied by the well-to-do families.  Where is equity and balanced representation of the population?

3. The increase in tuition fees will have a domino effect on other State Colleges and Universities as well as the private universities.  They will cite UP as the basis of their campaign to raise their own tuition fees.  Overall, it will be the poor families who will be affected the most.

Finally, the increase of tuition and other fees which will be undertaken this coming academic year and succeeding years is undoubtedly a form of commercialization along the line of private schools.  No wonder La Salle and Ateneo are being presented by the de Dios committee as examples of schools getting their service-worth from the money of their students.  To make it worse, the proposal is to raise tuition by 300 percent, much higher than the yearly average of La Salle and Ateneo which is 30%.  This new thrust of UP violates the very heart and soul of our leading state university.  As we approach the centennial of our University, will it be said that we have lost our soul because we have abandoned our responsibility to fight for the right of every deserving UP student to have quality and affordable education?



by Roland G. Simbulan
Professor and Faculty Regent
University of the Philippines System


Last March 30, 2006, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) in an en banc Resolution No. 208 directed all state colleges and universities in the country not to increase tuition and miscellaneous fees for Academic Year 2006-2007.  The reason given in the CHED resolution and subsequent press release for disallowing tuition fee increases was  "to make higher education more accessible to a greater number of Filipino college students" in the wake of the spiraling inflation brought about by the effects of the oil price hikes and the implementation of the 12% Expanded Value Tax.  Because I believe that U.P. students and their parents are not immune from these spiraling costs/inflation given as the reason for the tuition moratorium by CHED and that they must not suffer the added calvary of tuition fee hikes, I vigorously opposed the proposed tuition and laboratory fee increase of the College of Medicine.

I have been made to understand that U.P. is not under CHED and is exempted from CHED directives especially in the case of accreditation, monitoring and evaluation of academic programs. U.P. is  one of the largest beneficiaries of CHED graduate fellowships and scholarships.  Do we apply CHED directives to the premier state university only when it suits us?   CHED is organically linked with the University of the Philippines because whoever is the Chair of CHED sits as the presiding Chair of the U.P. Board of Regents.

In these times of national economic crisis that is further complicated by a continuing political standoff, parents and students should not be further burdened with another round of increases in tuition, laboratory and miscellaneous fees.  

My position however, is  not an absolute rejection of any tuition fee hikes in the future especially in our graduate programs where most students are already professionals who are earning income.  Perhaps we should also revisit the Socialized Tuition Fee Program(STFP) of U.P. so that students from low income families are not made to pay more just because they use cell phones.  My position is that if you are a U.P. student coming  from a wealth family living in an exclusive enclave like Forbes, Dasmarinas, Ayala Alabang, to name a few, then you rightly deserve to pay adjusted tuition comparable to those paid by students at Ateneo and De La Salle University.  But we should give our people, namely parents and students, a respite or relief from the spiraling cost of living that has hard hit most of the nation's poor, including middle class families.  But at the very root of these "revenue-generating initiatives" including the  "privatization of services" even among government agenices providing basic social services like education and health, is the lesser priority given by the state to these basic social services while the budget for foreign debt service and the military and police establishments continue to increase.

Most Filipino families are already suffering the double whammy of successive oil, gas, LPG price increases and the inflationary impact of the expanded value added tax.  Because of the wide gap between the minimum wage and the cost of living, many urban and rural families are suffering a disparity or income shortfall.   8 out of 10 families or some 83% of the country's families are now classified as poor, based on the January 2006 national average daily cost of living for a family of six of P 654.96 and the 2003 Family Income and Expenditures Survey (FIES).  The daily minimum wage in MetroManila is P325 (275 legislated wage plus P 50. emergency cost of living allowance).  If the international poverty measurement counting those living under $ 2. a day as poor is used, then over 87% of the country's families are poor.   The impact is so economically traumatic that it is pushing most and more Filipinos and their children out in the streets homeless, begging and unemployed.

U.P. officials like to show statistics before Congress during budgetary hearings that most U.P. students still come from the nation's poor and lower middle class.   In the case of the U.P. College of Medicine, the income profile of their students show that 50% are said to belong to families whose  gross incomes are below P 400,000. a year, according to U.P. Manila statistics provided to us.

May I also use this occasion to challenge the Iskolar ng Bayan and the alumni of the University of the Philippines to selflessly dedicate their lives and professions in the service of the nation so that this country and its people can liberate itself from the morass of mass poverty and social inequality.   Once you graduate from this great University, you should prove that the Filipino people did not make a mistake in investing their hard-earned money in your education.  Your teachers and professors too, with their measly salaries and allowances, have invested a lot for your U.P. education.  As U.P. Diliman Chancellor Sergio Cao stated during the recent 2006 Commencement Exercises, "U.P. did not train you to be exported abroad."  We hope that when the time comes, you will join the ranks of the excellent liberators of this country, and not the ranks of its corrupt oppressors who are a disgrace to our University's values and principles.

The battle against further tuition fee increases has begun and will continue, and I hope to have your support for the sake of the Iskolar ng Bayan.  I dread the day when U.P. will become a school mainly for the children of rich  families and will not anymore be accessible to the nation's poor namely the peasants, workers, urban poor and our indigenous peoples.

April 28, 2006

December 11, 2006
University of the Philippines

The Roman administration finally released to members of the BOR last November 30, 2006 [1] the Report of the Committee to Review the Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP). The committee, composed of Professors Edgardo Atanacio, Emmanuel F. Esguerra and Rene Felix, was formed after the submission in July 2006 of the de Dios committee’s recommendations to increase tuition and institute new fees. The completion of the STFAP review has been cited by President Roman as the requisite before the Board of Regents deliberate on and approves the proposed tuition fee increase. While the de Dios committee report has been widely circulated in the University, the Atanacio report in its entirety was only made public last December 8, 2006, two days after it was pointed out in the December 6 UP Diliman University Council that the UP Administration has not released to the public the STFAP Review Committee Report.

The UP BOR is set to meet on December 15, 2006 to decide on the tuition fee increase, a schedule which essentially preempts a wider and more informed discussion on the rationale and implications of the increase and the new STFAP proposal accompanying such increase. The timing of the meeting, which is the day of the annual Christmas lantern parade of UP Diliman and the day prior to the Christmas break of the students, smacks of ramming through the decision and avoiding strong uproar from UP students and from the public for such a decision. If the UP Administration pushes through with the UP BOR meeting to deliberate and decide on the tuition and other fee increase then it should open such deliberation to the public in the same manner that the public has the right to attend and listen to deliberations of the Congress on policy matters such as the CON-ASS.

The All-UP Academic Employees Union had previously come out with its opposition to the tuition fee and other fee increases recommended by the July 2006 de Dios committee report and a rejoinder to the de Dios committee’s response to the union’s critique of its report.[2] This paper focuses on the Atanacio committee report and more recent pronouncements of the Roman Administration.

The Atanacio Committee recommendations for a new STFAP Bracketing

The Atanacio committee essentially upheld the recommendation of the de Dios’ committee to increase tuition and to impose additional fees. The committee did not argue with the assumptions and arguments of the de Dios’ committee for its recommendations to increase tuition to as high as P1, 500 per unit, to increase library fee and to impose new fees (an internet fee of P260 per student in all campuses and an electricity fee of P425 per student in the three biggest constituent universities and P250 in the other units).

What the Atanacio committee contributes to the proposal to increase UP tuition and other fees is a slight adjustment in the income range of the new bracketing, a descending order of the new bracketing and numerous proposals to facilitate the administrative nightmare that a new bracketing would entail.

The STFAP review committee adopts the base tuition (pegged initially at P1, 000 and which will be “adjusted” annually) of the de Dios committee and proposes the following new STFAP bracketing:


Annual Family Income


Proposed fees
(Diliman, Los Banos and Manila)

Projected % of UP students who will fall in the bracket


More than P1 million

Full cost tuition fee (base x 1.5), full miscellaneous and lab fees

P1, 500 per unit, full miscellaneous and lab fees

4 to 5%
(de Dios committee)
The Esguerra committee places at 20% those who will fall under brackets A and B


P500,001 to P 1 million

Base tuition fee, full miscellaneous and lab fees

P1,000 per unit, full miscellaneous and lab fees

16% (de Dios committee


P135,001 to P500,000

40% discount on base tuition fee, full miscellaneous and lab fees

P600 per unit, full miscellaneous and lab fees



P80,001 to P135,000

70% discount on base tuition fee, full miscellaneous and lab fees

P300 per unit full miscellaneous and lab fees



Up to P80,000

Free tuition, miscellaneous and lab fees, standard stipend


(de Dios proposal, 10% or 650 students for students with income of less than P36,000)


The current STFAP bracketing in UP Diliman is the following:



Table 2: (Table 1 of de Dios report)






STFAP brackets and applicable






tuition-fee discounts(in pesos per credit-unit)






Family income

Tuition fee


Applicable tuition



in urban areas








































































250,001 and above















Source: UP STFAP Bulletin 2001 as cited by the de Dios committee report. Rates for UP Diliman

Deception of the Roman Administration

The November 30, 2006 Philippine Daily Inquirer had the following news on the proposed UP TFI quoting largely UP officials:

ONLY students belonging to the “richest three percent of the population,” or about 20 percent of the incoming freshman batch, will bear the brunt of the proposed tuition increase at the University of the Philippines, officials said Thursday.

….. For instance, students in Bracket E (annual income of P80, 000 or less) will pay no tuition at all, and will receive a stipend of P12, 000 per semester. Students in Bracket D (annual income from P80, 001 to P135, 000) will enjoy a 70-percent discount, which means they will pay P300 per unit, the existing rate.

Students in Brackets C (annual income from P135, 001 to P500, 000) will pay P600 per unit. Those in Bracket B (annual income of P500, 001 to P1 million) will pay P1, 000 per unit.
http://newsinfo.inq7.net/breakingnews/metroregions/view_article.php?article_id=35698, downloaded, December 4, 2006)

This is deceptive. This press release of the Roman administration (which President Roman repeats in her December 5 Open letter to the UP Community) omits the following implication of the new STFAP bracketing.

In the current STFAP, students whose families have incomes of P80, 001-130,000 (Bracket 5) do not have to pay any tuition. Now they have to pay P300.00. That is a 300% increase.

Students whose families have incomes of P130, 001-170,000, who used to pay only P75 per unit, will now have to pay P600 per unit, which is a 700% increase.

Under the smokescreen of forcing rich UP students to pay the full cost or near the full cost of UP education, the Roman administration will be increasing by 300% to 700% the tuition of students whose family incomes fall way below the daily cost of living.[3]

The double standard that President Roman’s administration is using is evident in the new bracketing scheme. Inflation is the reason given for increasing tuition. But inflation is not taken into account when students whose family incomes merited full subsidy in 1989 are now going to be charged P300 or even P600 per unit!

Abandoning the rationale for state universities, Saying goodbye to the “iskolar ng bayan”

The Roman administration says:

“Even with the proposed adjustment, the fees remain significantly lower than the true cost of an undergraduate UP education, not to mention the cost of an undergraduate education in other comparable universities in the country,” they said.(PDI, November 30, 2006)

The above statement clearly points to the abandonment of the Roman administration of the rationale for state universities. A state university, and UP in particular, provides quality but accessible tertiary education and more importantly imbues students with the spirit of serving the nation and the people as “iskolar ng bayan”.

Randy David’s November 26, 2006 column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer describes the kind of students that UP Diliman produced in the 60s:

When I entered UP Diliman in the early ’60s, there were no more than 4,000 students on campus. They came from all over the country, representing the brightest young people of every province. They thought of themselves as the nation’s future leaders by virtue of their simply being there. Much was expected of them. In turn, they were imbued with a deep sense of duty to country and people. They did not think that their country owed them anything; on the contrary, they felt they owed the country everything, and that nothing would please them more than to be able to serve it. One might call it the nobility of public service. UP was elitist only in this sense—that its students thought of the nation’s future as their responsibility.

That “deep sense of duty to country and people” is as much a function of the fact that UP students are aware or are made aware that it was the people who were paying for their education as much as the content of a UP education itself.

And while David’s column would differentiate the UP graduates in the age of “labor mobility” and would raise question regarding the viability of subsidizing university education, his concluding paragraph argues the case for state subsidy.

The University of the Philippines, and for that matter other state universities and colleges,  provide an alternative to private tertiary institutions which range from a small number providing quality education at exorbitant costs whose benefits redound primarily to the individual and those which are basically diploma mills. UP as the university of the “iskolar ng bayan” cannot use as its basis for comparison in its costing scheme those of Ateneo or La Salle or even UST.  Doing so, would transform UP into a private university providing quality education at a high cost, with a small percentage of students as “scholars”. A “person for others” does service to the nation and to society as an individual choice, partly out of philanthropy, partly out of Christian obligation. But the “iskolar ng bayan” serves the nation as recognition of his/her debt of gratitude to the people who paid for his/her education.[4]

The Roman Administration’s justification that the new fees will affect only new students is a tactic intended to reduce the opposition of current students to the proposal. What is particularly reprehensible about this tactic is that the Roman administration is sending the message to the “iskolar ng bayan” to be apathetic so long as the matter does not directly affect them.

Making the “Iskolar ng Bayan Pay for the Failure of the Government to Fully Support State Universities and Colleges

The current plan to increase tuition to as high as P1, 500, increase current miscellaneous fees and impose new ones transfers to the students in increasing amounts the failure of the government to adequately support state universities and colleges.
The de Dios committee avers:

By continuing to price tuition significantly lower than direct cost in all units, of course, the University implicitly acknowledges the need for public subsidies. In this sense, therefore, except for a few exceptions to be discussed below, virtually all students in the University are still greater or lesser beneficiaries of state support, and the University’s character as an institution that benefits from state support is not negated. (PDF copy of report, p.9)

This statement actually conceals the fact that state subsidy per student will be drastically slashed from the current 78% per student to 47% or even as low as 23% . Based on the P1,531.00 cost of instruction per unit as pegged by the de Dios committee, full tuition subsidy is P27,558 for 18 units which UP undergraduate students usually take. The following table illustrates the projected decline of state subsidy to UP students’ tuition (miscellaneous fees are not included) as a proportion of the cost of instruction once the tuition increase is implemented.


Current Scheme

Proposed TF

Proposed TF

Proposed TFI

Total cost for 18 units

P6, 015


P21, 240


Government Subsidy

P21, 543


P6, 318


% of government subsidy to total cost





Adapted from STAND-UP: Praymer hinggil sa Panukalang pagtataas ng matrikula at iba pang bayarin
[Unang Borador, Nobyembre 10, 2006]

UP will have full iskolar ng bayan, half iskolar ng bayan, a quarter of iskolar ng bayan and practically a none iskolar ng bayan

On the other hand, the increase in tuition and other fees is projected by the Atanacio committee to generate  the following revenues for UP:

Depending upon the application rate assumed for STFAP, revenue from tuition and miscellaneous fees range from P85.1 million (40% application rate) to P68.1 million (80% application rate). With stipends ranging from a low of P8.2 million to a high of P16.4 million, net inflows for one semester from freshmen enrollees would be anywhere between P51.7 and P76.9 million. Relative to the P40 million (the footnote says this is a very rough estimate) that the University currently receives from tuition and miscellaneous fess, this means an additional P12-36 million in revenues for the University for one semester or roughly P24-P72 million a year.[5] (Atanacio committee report: p.8)

The P24-P72 million per year additional revenue in addition to the current “rough estimate of P40 million revenue per year”, will mean  from P256 million to P288 million income of the university from tuition and miscellaneous fees once the increase reaches full implementation. This amount is clearly an underestimation when current UP financial statement already pegs earnings from tuition alone (as there is a separate category for miscellaneous student fees) to almost P300 million pesos.[6]

The increase in UP self-generated income (the revolving fund item in the UP budget) will further justify  the continuing decrease in the state allocation for the university. The following table illustrates the relative reduction in the amount allocated by the government to UP and the increase in the university’s self-generated income in the past six years.

UP Budget : 2000-2006




































1. GF=General Fund; from the General Appropriations Act
2. RLIP=Retirement Life Insurance Premiums; allocation for employees benefits
3. RF=Revolving Fund; self-generated income of the university
4. IOB=Internal Operating Budget; total annual UP budget (GF+RLIP+RF)

The Roman Administration’s Thrust: Implementing Full Throttle the Neo-Liberal Thrust in Tertiary Education

The All-UP Academic Employees Union and UP students who oppose the imposition of higher tuition and other fees have time and again posited that the alternative to generating income from the students is to demand for higher budget allocation for the University.
The justification for the tuition and other fee increase proposal of the de Dios committee (p.2)reflects the position of the UP administration regarding such demand:

One, there is not enough money “given the government’s chronic budgetary difficulties”

Two, “the idea of students paying their way through higher education (though possibly through state-financed loans) has gained ground even in developed countries not facing budget-constraints demonstrates on the other hand that this is not merely a response to the exigency of a budget-shortfall but a general principle to be affirmed”

Three, “a public subsidy to an activity is justified based on likely positive externalities arising from it, i.e., social benefits not apparent to the individual himself. It can be argued that virtually all the benefits of an undergraduate education are in fact  appropriable by the private individual himself, who should be therefore be willing to pay for its cost. Proof of this is people’s demonstrated willingness to pay for private college education (and indeed the Philippines already has an unusually high ratio of college-finishers to total its labour-force). The matter may be different, however, for graduate studies in some fields (e.g., the natural sciences) whose preservation and expansion are nationally significant though not privately profitable.”

Arguments number two and number three essentially take precedence over argument number one. The continuing state abandonment of education, particularly tertiary education, as reflected in the miniscule and relatively unchanging allocation for state universities and colleges is not a function of lack of funds per se but is a policy in line with the belief that tertiary education is a “private good” whose benefits redound to the individual.

The Roman Administration’s stand regarding state subsidy for tertiary education is consistent with the analysis and recommendations of  the World Bank and ADB 1998 study entitled: “Philippine Education for the 21st Century: The 1998 Philippines Education Sector Study”.

For example, many analysts would argue that externalities are relatively more important in primary education than at higher levels of education (even though there is little credible quantitative evidence in research done anywhere of externalities at any level of education underscoring ours). Basic literacy and numeracy should lower transaction costs in the economy and result in faster, less frictional communication. Professional and technical education may yield high private returns in terms of earnings differentials, but most such returns (with the exception of taxed earnings) are gained privately. [p.11]

The study notes that raising government allocation to secondary and tertiary education is inefficient and is made more so when such education is provided “free of charge or at very low cost-recovery rates”. The ADB/World Bank report further avers that “(t)his has the predictable effect of undermining the private sector’s share of the education market”. (p.14) The study recommends charging more for post basic education while offering subsidies to “deserving” students.

It is no wonder then, that recent UP administrations, except in 2000 when then UP President Nemenzo led the UP community in a rally in Mendiola to protest planned cuts in the UP budget, have shown minimal or no support of UP student mobilizations and actions demanding for higher budget for UP and for education. Instead, they, and particularly the Roman Administration, have moved towards implementing user’s fees for student’s use of UP facilities such as the “per square meter” charge to UP Engineering students for the use of the lobby, increasing graduate students’ tuition, increasing laboratory and other fees and entering joint-ventures with private businesses among various income generating activities. The tuition fee increase proposal tops all the moneymaking ventures of the Roman administration in terms of earning potential. 

Reiterating Our Position

We are demanding for  a halt to any rise in tuition and other fees and the imposition of new ones  in the University.

We call on the UP Administration to join us in the fight to lobby for an increase of the annual UP budget and not to resort to adding greater financial problems to the already worsening conditions of UP families, brought about by the incessant rise in the prices of goods and services. We are not demanding this increase of the UP budget at the expense of basic education ( primary and secondary education in the Philippines ) as the de Dios committee accuses us, up to its old trick again of pitting one sector against another to drive home a point. What we demand is a general increase in the education budget of the government, including for basic education and for other state universities and colleges (SUCs), which we believe can be achieved if the national government changes its budget prioritization for foreign debt and the military. It must be noted that from the supposed higher present budget of UP compared to other SUCs as the de Dios committee reminds us, 1/3 goes to the PGH (the leading government hospital).

We are reiterating our vehement objection to the creeping commercialization of our University as exemplified, among other things, in an increase in tuition and other fees as the usual practice in private schools like La Salle and Ateneo, which the de Dios committee uses as a point of positive comparison to UP tuition policy. Gradual commercialization is after all a prelude to privatization as what happened to many government corporations.

We call on all to fight to preserve the status of UP as a state school providing affordable and quality education to the “iskolar ng bayan”. The UP administration can work with other sectors of the University in a transparent manner to improve the resources of the University, and not transfer the burden of supporting state education to its students. For indeed, it behooves the leaders of our University to be democratically responsible and accountable to the constituencies they serve.



UP Administration Documents:

Ad-hoc committee to review tuition and other fees, “Final Report”, posted on the up.edu.ph website, December 7, 2006 (this is the de Dios Committee Report referred to in this paper)

“Report of the Committee to Review the Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP)” posed on the up.edu.ph website, December 8, 2006,  (this is the Atanacio committee report referred to in this paper)

UP President Emerlinda R. Roman. “Open Letter to the UP Community on the Proposed Tuition Fee Increase” dated December 5, 2006, posted on the up.edu.ph website December 7, 2006.

Emmanuel de Dios, “Responses to Some Questions on the Proposed Tuition-Fee Revisions”, posted on the up.edu.ph website, December 8, 2006

UP System Statement of Other Receipts and Expenditures (FY 2004-2006)

Papers Opposing Tuition and Other Fees Increase Proposal

All-UP Academic Employees Union, “Position Paper of the All-UP Academic Employees Union on the Proposed Increase in Tuition and Miscellaneous Fees”

All-UP Academic Employees Union,  “Rejoinder of the All UP Academic Union(AUPAU) to the Response of the de Dios Committee to the AUPAU Position Paper on the Proposal to Increase Tuition and Other Fees for incoming UP students”

University Student Council, UP Diliman “USC position paper on proposed tuition fee hike”, Oblation, August 2006

STAND-UP, “Praymer hinggil sa Panukalang pagtataas ng matrikula at iba pang bayarin”, Nobyembre 11, 2006

From Philippine Daily Inquirer

DJ Yap, “UP tuition hike will affect only the very rich—officials” , Inquirer, November 30, 2006, (http://newsinfo.inq7.net/breakingnews/metroregions/view_article.php?article_id=35698, downloaded, December 4, 2006)
Solita Collas-Monsod, “No cause for caterwauling”, Inquirer, November 18, 2006, p. A13

Solita Collas-Monsod, “Trapo’-like spins on UP tuition hikes”, Inquirer, November 25, 2006, p. A13.

Randy David, “UP and the case for state subsidy” in the column PUBLIC LIVES, Philippine Daily Inquirer, November 26, 2006, p. A13


[1] Members of the inner circle of the UP administration appear to have copies of the STFAP Review Committee Report earlier than its release to the members of the Board of Regents. UP Economics Professor and Inquirer columnist Solita Monsod named Esguerra as the chair of the committee in her November 18 Inquirer column. President Roman in her December 5 Open Letter to the UP Community named Prof. Atanacio as the chair of the STFAP Review Committee

[2] “Position Paper of the All-UP Academic Employees Union on the Proposed Increase in Tuition and Miscellaneous Fees” and “Rejoinder of the All UP Academic Union(AUPAU) to the Response of the de Dios Committee to the AUPAU Position Paper on the Proposal to Increase Tuition and Other Fees for incoming UP students”

[3] The rise in inflation rate (from 3% in 2002 to 7.7% in 2005) has driven the daily cost of living (DCOL) for 2005 for a family of six ever higher to P650.17 (or P234,061.2/year before tax) in the NCR and to P534.80 (P192,528/year before tax) for the rest of the Philippines. (National Statistics Office)

[4] With the imposition of higher tuition and other fees, the economic stratification among UP students would become more marked. The Atanacio  committee suggests that “the University may want to consider opening an ‘express’ or ‘special assessment’ lane for bracket A” (Atanacio committee report, p. 7). This is the millionaire lane. On the other hand, it also suggests that for students who may have to pay higher tuition and other fees in advance because of late submission of applications, the university “may want to explore the possibility of allowing students to pay their tuition, laboratory, and miscellaneous fess on installment basis”. (Atanacio committee report, p. 16). These two recommendations, when adopted,  would really provide a fitting indication of what UP as a state university  has become after 100 years of  existence.

[5] The committee’s projection is based on a 15-unit loading and is therefore already a conservative estimate as most UP undergraduate students have to enroll in 18 units to complete the course requirements within the prescribed period.

[6] Based on the UP System Statement of Other Receipts and Expenditures (FY 2004-2006), student tuition already contributed the single largest share in the item of “Business Income” of the University for 2005: P296,460,000 out of a total of P429,608,000

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