I have a niece who passed the UP College Entrance Exam and now is a freshie at the College of Business Administration. She dropped by my faculty office to say hello on the first day of school, June 12. I was curious to find out how much her parents paid for fees and I was shocked. They paid about 20K pesos for this semester.
I have attended the sometimes cum gravitas, ironic, flippant and comedic sessions of the University Council. In council the breakdown and schedule of the increased fees were shown as a Powerpoint presentation. The Chancellor (who chairs the sessions) explained how this increase is much needed given the parlous state of the university.
True, the university's share of state subsidy has not increased and costs have increased. The results of this lack of funds is evident everywhere. The classrooms are overcrowded and there is a serious safety and security on campus. The university can't even pay for an effective security force to ensure students' safety.
And the pathetic salaries of the professors have remained pathetic throughout the years!
Nonetheless, the 12th of June (ironically Independence Day) marks the demise of the concept of the state university for me. I had foreseen this death for long. State subsidies to universities worldwide have decreased. Universities have to take on the role of being simply"education providers" and in the terminology of Karl Marx, education has become nothing but a commodity.
In the US, Australia and Canada, universities have to go guerrilla marketing to get money for professors' chairs and other programs. In some cases the alums donate millions. But in most cases the university has to market a commodity. In the US university where I was a visiting prof, one major commodity is the football team.
In the Australian university where I did my doctorate, the university has allotted slots for full paying students. While international students have to pay the full costs of their education, as a result of decreased state subsidy, the university had to open slots for Australian citizens who can pay full fees.
In this way the concept of a university that can cater to the deserving while preserving the Australian ethos of an egalitarian fair go, simply dissipated. If you have the cash, you can go to university.
The proposed UP Charter vests corporate rights to the Regents of the university. In this way the university can alienate its assets without the need for Congress to enact laws for that purpose. The charter failed to be passed in the just concluded Congress but it is likely that the charter will be passed by the next Congress.
The university has to adapt to the new situation and take the capitalist tollway. In this way the UP is no longer much different to the "exclusive" schools on Katipunan Road and Taft Avenue. Whereas before UP students were exclusive since they were mainly scholars of the state, now they are no longer so.
We shouldn't be surprised. Marx is eventually being proven right. The State is withering away. It is not the communist society that is withering the state, but globalized capitalism. It is no wonder that the idea of a state university is one of the first to fall.
The result of the increased fees is that the university has noted decreased freshman enrollment.
Too bad, the UP has no winning football team, or a winning basketball team! (irony intended!)