By KATHRINA CHARMAINE ALVAREZ, GMA News -
The top ten graduates of public high schools are entitled to enter state universities and colleges in their respective regions without having to take the SUCs' entrance examinations, including the highly stringent University of the Philippines College Admissions Test or UPCAT.
Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo, a UP alumnus and one of the authors of Republic Act 10648 or Iskolar ng Bayan Law, said the measure has a transitory provision exempting all scholars under the program from taking the entrance tests of SUCs during the first six years of its implementation.
“The scholars do not have to take the competitive entrance tests of state universities, including the University of the Philippines College Admission Test, or the UPCAT," Romulo said in a statement.
"All that they have to do is apply for admission, and they will be allowed in, as long as they choose the campus in their home region, and provided that the school’s quota for the Iskolar ng Bayan is still not full,” he added.
According to Romulo, at least 80,000 graduates are expected to benefit from the Iskolar ng Bayan law.
“This is an affirmative action policy that guarantees disadvantaged but gifted public high school graduates slots in SUCs, without having to go through a rigorous screening or elimination process, which is basically what an entrance test is,” Romulo said.
“When we finalized the law, we simply decided to give the sons and daughters of marginal families a headstart,” he added.
The University of the Philippines, however, said it will prioritize UPCAT passers for the school year 2015-2016 over the top high school graduates covered by the Iskolar ng Bayan Law.
According to Dr. Aurora Corpuz-Mendoza, director of the Office of Admissions, there were 88,525 UPCAT applicants in 2014 who wish to be admitted to any UP campus for school year 2015 to 2016.
Of these, only 16.93 percent or 14,988 students qualified for admission.
"Of course, we will prioritize the UPCAT passers kasi they took the qualifying exams months before the IRR of the law was released," Dr. Prospero De Vera, UP vice president for public affairs, said in a phone interview.
The IRR is the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) crafted by the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to implement the new law.
"Ang problema kasi ay nandito sa present school year eh. Kasi for the next two school years, walang incoming freshmen dahil mag-senior high pa sila," De Vera added.
De Vera said UP was not able to state its position on the Iskolar ng Bayan law having been initially exempted from the Senate version of the proposal because of its institutional autonomy.
The UP official said the university would have wanted to clarify the law's definition on "regional universities."
RA 10648 provides that for the next six years beginning school year 2015 to 2016, admission to state universities and colleges (SUCs) of choice within their region shall be automatic for the top 10 graduating students of public high schools.
"Eh UP does not have a regional university kasi the campuses are within the UP system...For instance, yung UP Baguio, i-a-admit ba niya lahat ng top 10 graduates ng Cordillera o buong Northern Luzon? That's the problem eh. We don't have campuses in most of the regions," De Vera said.
De Vera said the UP campuses may also opt not to admit the top graduating students covered by the law in compliance with Section 5, which states that SUCs "may limit the number of students...if the number of applicants eligible and applying for admission exceeds by more than five percent the average number of first-time freshmen admitted to the SUCs during the first two academic years preceding the entry of the applicant."
"More than five percent na as a system eh so we are already fully complaint with that provision...And if we accept them, who will pay for their tuition? CHED will not pay for it," he added.
UP President Alfredo Pascual earlier committed to fully support the Iskolar ng Bayan law to increase UPCAT qualifiers from public schools and "reach out to the underrepresented and marginalized sectors of our society."
De Vera said the admissions committee is drafting its own rules to remedy the present situation.
"We want to promote affirmative action, but the IRR makes it difficult for us to do so kaya we are coming up with internal rules that would define allocation among different campuses," he said. -NB, GMA News
- Story and image by GMA News.