I was shocked when I saw this headline: Why new law exempts 80,000 students from taking UPCAT. According to this article:
More than 80,000 graduating public high school students will be exempt from taking college entrance examinations in state universities and colleges (SUCs), including the UP College Admission Test (UPCAT), Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo said Tuesday.
“The scholars do not have to take the competitive entrance tests of state universities, including […] UPCAT. 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,” Romulo said.
I didn’t want to comment at first, because everyone knows we are in the UPCAT review business. One might think I’m grumbling because we will lose students. That’s true, we might lose students. But so what? That shouldn’t stop me from asking the following questions:
1. UP only accepts a total of more or less 12,000 students every year. That’s nationwide. And yet 80,000 are exempted from taking the UPCAT?!?
2. If still only a certain percentage of these 80,000 get admitted to UP, what exactly would the parameters be to determine who are and who are not eligible? School grades? Uh-oh, there’s more reason to cry, “Favoritism!” (Remember the salutatorian who ranted during her speech? Many sided with her at first but upon learning that the valedictorian passed the UPCAT but the grumbling salutatorian did not, the valedictorian was vindicated). Connections? Relatives? Hmmmm! Without any unbiased exam, this isn’t farfetched!
3. Does this mean almost all of the UP students would come from public schools already? Imagine that’s 80,000 clamoring for more or less 12,000 slots. How many slots would be left for private school students, then?
4. Hate me for saying this, but face it: there are a lot of “running for valedictorian” students from several public (and private!!!) schools who are less smart than the worst students of other schools.
5. OK, so UP will be more “pangmasa” because majority of the students will come from public high schools. But because of the this law don’t you think that public high schools will start swarming with rich kids? You know, those who graduated from good (and expectedly, expensive) elementary schools will choose to go to a public school because they’ll have greater chances of going to UP. Don’t you think that would be worse? High school pa lang, nawawalan na ng slots ang mahihirap—the private elementary school students will top the public high school entrance exams and take the “pilot section” slots where the Top 10 would of course come from.
6. When exactly would the students know whether they would get qualified? Do they apply at the start of the schoolyear? If at the start of the schoolyear they belong to the Top 10 but later on they fall behind, are they still eligible? If they apply after they graduate but do not get accepted to UP because of their grades, would they not have wished they had taken the UPCAT instead? Would they have blown their chances of going to other schools (and getting scholarships) like La Salle or Ateneo or aother prestigious universities thinking they’ll go to UP anyway?
7. Will there still be UP Oblation Scholars? I think it’s fine even if there is none. However, how would UP choose the INTARMED Candidates? Would a Top 10 student of Philippine Science High School who did not take the UPCAT not be qualified to be an INTARMED Candidate?
If at the end of it all the top 10 graduating students of public high schools still need to take the UPCAT to help them guarantee a slot in UP, then what is this all for?
Disclaimer: I’m just reacting from article I read. Yes, my view is myopic and my knowledge is limited, as this is just a blog post written to let off some steam, not a well-researched investigative journalism article. Feel free to enlighten me. Thanks!
UPDATE: A reader/friend on Facebook just posted this on my Timeline:
SEC. 4. Admission in SUCs. – Any public high school student who belongs to the top ten (10) bracket of the graduating class shall be entitled to the scholarship grant provided under this Act in any SUC of choice upon compliance with the following conditions:
(a) The student has graduated from any public high school in the country within two (2) years prior to the academic year being applied for in the SUC;
(b) The student has complied with the application requirements of the SUC;
(c) The student’s rank is reported by the public high school principal or administrator in a certificate bearing the name of the school and its location, the number of students, the rank of the student applicant in the graduating class, and other relevant information; and
(d) After taking the entrance examination in the chosen SUC, the student has obtained a rating which has been designated by the SUC as the minimum rating for a student to be able to qualify for the scholarship program.
SEC. 5. Limitation in the Acceptance of Top Public High School Graduates by SUCs. – All SUCs shall provide scholarships to qualified public high school graduates under this Act: Provided, That the applicants have successfully passed the entrance examination and have complied with the admission requirements of the SUCs.
According to him, “parang mali naman yung ‘NO UPCAT’ report ng media.
Thank you Kuya Mark Nas for clarifying!
Another update, DMed to me by a former student:
As posted by the UPLB USC Chairperson Ronald Gem Celestial in the UPLB Batch 2015 group:
“Points of Clarification on the Implementation of theIskolar ngBayan Act in UP: Only 5% of the incoming freshman population will be allotted to theIskolar ngBayan Program. Top ten HS graduates who took theUPCAT would be prioritized over those top ten HS graduates who did not took theUPCAT. Why? Since only 5% is allotted to the incoming freshmen, theUPAI scores (not the HS grades) will be used to rank all thoseINB applicants todetermine who qualifies for the limited slots. Fornon-UPCAT takers, they are automatically admitted to the university but this is not tantamount to qualifying for their degree program of choice. The university shalldetermine its priority programs and these are the only programs wherenon-UPCAT takers shall have automatic admission, provided that there are available slots. Also, in order for you to have automatic admission, you should come from the region where the UP campus is situated.Diliman and Manila for NCR, Baguio for CAR, Pampanga for Region III, LosBanos forCALABARZON,Miagao and Iloilo for WesternVisayas, Cebu for CentralVisayas, Tacloban for EasternVisayas, Mindanao for Davao Region and Open University for all regions. Therefore, in UP, graduating as one of the top ten in your HS does not guarantee you automatic admission. These points were clarified yesterday (21 July 2015) at the University Committee for Scholarships and Financial Assistance where I was theUPLB Student Representative.”Thank you, Romel Amboy for sending me that!**************************So I guess…may UPCAT pa rin talaga?