UP Updated Socialized Tuition System: To Scrap or To Reform

Socialized? Or Sosyal-ized?

Recently, University of the Philippines introduced a new system that replaces the 24-year-old Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program. It was unanimously approved by the UP Board of Regents after 2 years of research, verification and consultation, said the university.

The new program, called the Socialized Tuition System or the STS simplifies the application for subsidies and tuition discounts. From the 14-page application form to simply applying online was indeed a great change. Added unto that, students who are in the lowest bracket receive an increase in stipends from P2,400 to P3,500 a month. Also, it features a 30% upward adjustment for the income cut-offs of the higher brackets..

However, when the results went out, many UP students were baffled. In hopes of retaining their own bracket or lowering it (thus increasing the tuition discount), most of the brackets went up. It resulted into complaints and grumbles among the students.

In Twitter, the #BracketAKaNa became one of the trending topics in the country. It generated humor among the frustrated Isko’s and Iska’s on which they poked fun of the questions in the application process like having flush in the toilet or having several phones in the house although they are all “as good as a Nokia 3310.” Some mentioned that it is almost like “social climbing” except one would climb down to prove that he/she is poor.

Socialized or Sosyal-ized? Aside from the 220 billion peso pork barrel of PNOY. The government is not putting education or basic social services first in terms of budget allocation on which only 2-3% is being given for education, one of the lowest in SEA and well below the 6% the UN recommended. It isn’t just UP who is being affected by these. It is only a small part of the collective problems of the country’s stand on education. Like the previous systems, STFAP and TOFI, it also created resentment against the system but was shushed down through time.

The question remains if the reformed system is actually for the betterment of the so-called “Iskolar ng Bayan”. To scrap or to reform: most of the students plead to scrap it but it is still on the hands of the Board whether to change it or not.