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National

Review of policies that force students out was ordered on eve of UP student's suicide

InterAksyon.com
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines - University of the Philippines campuses were ordered to undertake a review of policies that prevent students from completing their education because of financial constraints, practically on the eve of a UP Manila freshman's suicide, reportedly after being forced to go on leave for not being able to pay her tuition on time.

Dr. Prospero “Popoy” de Vera, UP vice president for public affairs, said the order was issued by UP president Alfredo Pascual at the meeting Wednesday of the Presidential Advisory Council, which was attended by representatives from different campuses of the State University.

It was also the same day the 16-year old Behavioral Science student filed what has been called a “forced” leave of absence because of UP Manila’s “no late payment” policy.

On Friday, the student, the daughter of a taxi driver and housewife, poisoned herself at home.

UP Manila, in a statement issued following the outcry over the suicide, acknowledged that “the issue on providing financial support for indigent students wanting to enroll at UP was taken up yesterday at the Presidential Advisory Council meeting.”

“UP President Alfredo Pascual instructed all Chancellors of autonomous universities to ensure that no UP student shall be deprived of financial support to be enrolled,” the statement said.

De Vera said Pascual also ordered the “review and reform” of UP’s Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program, which determines how much students need to pay in tuition by classifying them into economic “brackets” supposed to reflect family income and capacity to pay.

In the case of the suicide, she was classified as “Bracket D,” or to pay P300 per unit, or P900 for a three-unit subject. However, even this was more than she could afford and she had asked the school to lower her bracket.

UP Manila did say that the student, who had taken out a loan in the first semester, had been given until December 2012 to pay it off “in consideration of her family’s financial situation” and that, in late January this year, it had turned down a request from her father to be enrolled and apply for another loan “since it was already mid-semester.”

The student’s mother confirmed they had tried to renegotiate an extension of her loan and even pawned the title to a piece of land in an attempt to raise funds in the days before the suicide.

Aside from the review of existing policies, De Vera said Pascual also suggested that the UP campuses track “any and all cases” of students being forced to go on leave or otherwise not able to continue attending their courses because of financial constraints.

“No UP student should be deprived of a chance to complete a term or degree due to financial reasons,” Pascual said at the meeting.

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