BAGUIO CITY—Twenty-seven students of the University of the Philippines (UP) Baguio, and a growing number of online supporters, have petitioned UP President Alfredo Pascual to allow them to graduate this week.
An error involving the use of their curriculum checklist prevents these students from joining their class graduation rites on June 25. The students completed their required units at the College of Arts and Communication (CAC), only to be informed on May 19 that they took the wrong general education (GE) subjects, according to accounts and documents supplied by UP Baguio teachers and student leaders.
“Our college made available two checklists, marked only as ‘old’ and ‘new.’ Our advisers overlooked [the fact] that we should [have used] the new checklist, and [should have taken] the required GE courses,” the students told Pascual in a June 15 letter.
The CAC has owned up to the mistake and UP Baguio officials have urged the UP System to allow the students to march next week.
But the Baguio campus’ University Council voted against issuing the students a waiver that would have credited all their GE subjects and allowed them to join this year’s graduates.
The council convened on June 11, and again on Friday, but teachers fighting for the 27 students could not draw enough votes, according to a teacher who attended the meetings that discussed the students’ case.
UP Baguio Chancellor Raymundo Rovillos had prepared a statement on the issue but had yet to release it on Saturday.
Universities administered by the Commission on Higher Education have a fixed set of GE subjects.
In UP, however, each course offers students a much larger menu of GE subjects. Students are provided the liberty to choose their preferred subjects, provided these are in the menu, and with the consent of school advisers each time they enroll for a new semester.
When the 27 students entered UP in 2011, the university enforced a Revised General Education Program (RGEP), but their advisers apparently allowed some of the students to enlist in subjects outlined in the old checklist.
In their letter to Pascual, the students said: “As our college has emphasized, we have not violated the spirit of the [RGEP]. We have completed 15 units of GE courses in each of the three domains (Humanities, Social Sciences and Natural Sciences/Mathematics) and have thus complied with the RGEP requirements. We believe that these RGEP courses, together with our core and elective courses, have helped us develop the desired skills and competencies expected of a UP graduate.”
“Thirteen of us did not take English 1, 11 of us did not take Communication 1 or Komunikasyon 1, and five did not take History 1. Instead, we have taken other Humanities and Social Sciences GE subjects,” they said.
“Although we may still enroll in the college-prescribed GE courses this [midyear term], this would entail additional expense for tuition and board which would be an added burden on our families. Also, for some of us who are expected to contribute to the family income, extending our schooling would mean lost opportunity,” they added.
UP Baguio officials confirmed that many of the 27 students have enrolled in those subjects as a precaution, but have not been required to pay tuition pending their appeal.
This was not the first time that misadvising had imperiled the graduation of a UP Baguio student, “and no teacher had been punished for those mistakes yet,” said a teacher, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to reveal details about the case.
“But this is the first time the University Council dealt with almost 30 students with the same predicament. A waiver for these many students would create a precedent [for which] UP may not be prepared [to address],” the source said. Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon