By Merlina Malipot
Despite the sheer volume of student-applicants who flocked Diliman campus on Monday, the University of the Philippines (UP) System announced that there will no extension for the filing of applications for the UP College Entrance Test (UPCAT) for private high school students in Metro Manila.
In an UPCAT advisory posted on its official website, UP said that the deadline for submission of the application forms of students from Metro Manila private high schools was July 27 and was already extended to July 30. “All applications submitted today—physically or by courier (timestamped today)—will be accepted as within the deadline,” UP said.
Based on the announcement made the UP System, the applications for UPCAT for School Year (SY) 2019-2020 started on July 10. For the applicants from private schools in the NCR, the deadline of applications was has been extended “in consideration of the work suspensions due to inclement weather the past days.”
In the hopes of getting into country’s premier university, thousands of student-applicants – along with their parents, guardians and other companions – went to UP Diliman on the last day of filing for the UPCAT applications for Metro Manila private high schools.
According to the UP Police, the estimated crowd – student-applicants along with their parents, guardians and other companions – was estimated at 10,000 as of Monday morning. It was also reported that some students and their parents have camped out at the Diliman grounds as early as Sunday evening so they would be first in line. Some students reportedly fainted and assisted by the university personnel.
“Everyone remaining in line today will be accommodated,” UP assured. To serve the high volume of applicants, UP noted that “lines have been segmented and dropboxes with someone receiving the forms are available at the Office of Admissions.”
UP noted that as stated on the UPCAT website (upcat.up.edu.ph), the applications may be “submitted to the Office of Admissions either in person OR through the authorized school representative, OR by courier.” “Applications sent via courier will not be considered late if posted by courier today,” UP said. “Applicants are urged to utilize courier services to avoid having to line up and to decongest the receiving area,” it added.
UP also clarified that the deadline for submission for Metro Manila public schools remains August 3 and regional private and public schools August 10”. Dropboxes will also be made available on those dates,” UP said. For those who are hoping to submit their applications on the last day and still in line, UP said that they “can either submit through a dropbox or line up for permits.”
Meanwhile, UP advised the public to avoid “fake news” sites and social media accounts supposedly devoted to the UPCAT with “some even bearing the UP logo.”
Official announcements about the UPCAT and the admission procedure, UP said, are announced only through its channels: UPCAT website (upcat.up.edu.ph); UPCAT-UP System Facebook page (facebook.com/UPSystemOfficeOfAdmissions); UP System website (up.edu.ph); UP System Facebook page (facebook.com/upsystem) and UP System Twitter page (twitter.com/upsystem).
Meanwhile, For UPCAT applicants from foreign schools, they may submit their application forms starting July 30 to August 10. UP noted that applications received after August 10 may only be processed “if test permits are still available.” Meanwhile, the UPCAT for AY 2019 will be held on September 15 and 16, 2018.
FREE HIGHER EDUCATION
The UPCAT applicants, the University said, are estimated to “have risen to 167,000 this year from 103,000 last year, largely because of the free-tuition policy.”
Earlier, hundreds of Senior High School (SHS) students from Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) endured hours queuing just to get the needed documents that will make them eligible to get take the UPCAT.
In 2017, more than 100,000 students applied to take the UPCAT. As announced by UP System, only 80,000 actually took the exam and 14,000 (17 %) were accepted.
Aside from free tuition and miscellaneous in all State Colleges and Universities (SUCs) and accredited Local Universities and Colleges (LUCs) due to the implementation of the Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act (UAQTEA), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) earlier announced that high school graduates who wish to enter public universities and colleges will no longer have to pay for their admission tests or entrance examinations.
As part of the UAQTEA’s IRR, CHED Officer-in-Charge J. Prospero De Vera III said that all 112 SUCs and 78 CHED-recognized LUCs “cannot charge fees for entrance exams anymore” as part of the benefits of the free higher education law which is fully implemented starting Academic Year (AY) 2018-2019.
While the amount of fees for entrance exams in public universities and colleges may seem minimal, De Vera said that this is still a problem for some high school graduates especially those who are in the provinces or those who belong to poorer households. “As much as possible, we want to eliminate obstacles to access to higher education and this is one way of doing it,” he explained.
De Vera said that entrance exams in SUCs and select LUCs for high school graduates will be free of charge and that “the SUCs and LUCs can bill it to CHED.” He also noted that there will be no limit as to how many students will benefit from not paying entrance exams. Should the applicant fail to make it to the SUC or LUC of his or her choice, he said that the student may still apply to other public schools and they will still not be charged for the entrance exams.
The amount for entrance exams, De Vera said, may be reimbursed by the SUCs and LUCs. In its first year of implementation, the RA 10931 was given Php 40 billion allocations in the 2018 General Appropriations Act by Congress. CHED data showed that around 1.3 million students are expected to avail of the RA 10931 this academic year 2018-2019.
CHED clarified that only Filipino students are covered by the free admission test. Thus, foreign applicants may still be required to pay for the admission test application depending on the university that they are applying to.