After student's suicide, UP lifts 'no late payment' policy

(UPDATE) The University of the Philippines has suspended a restrictive policy on tuition payments amid an uproar over a student's suicide.
 
UP President Alfredo Pascual announced Monday that the state university's "no late payment" policy has been lifted.
 
"In view of the issues raised regarding the late payment of tuition and other school fees, henceforth, I am enjoining all chancellors to allow a reasonable amount of time for registration and payment of fees," Pascual said in a statement.
 
This, after UP Manila behavioral science freshman Kristel Tejada took her own life Mar. 15, days after she had filed for leave of absence.

Tejada was reportedly advised to file for LOA after she had failed to pay school fees for the second semester.

Related story: UP Manila student takes own life
 
While they welcomed the lifting of the "no late payment" policy, student leaders said they would push for more talks with university officials.
 
"Technically, a formal consultation with students has yet to take place," UP Manila Student Councilor Adrian Sampang told Yahoo! Southeast Asia by phone.
 
He noted that only nine students had been allowed to attend the meeting with officials Tuesday.
 
Student organizations also intend to push for other demands in relation to Tejada's death, Sampang said.

UP alumni Alcuin Papa, meanwhile, said a petition signed by more than 6,000 via online portal Change.org helped nudge UP officials into action.

"The message was loud and clear: that those policies were repressive, anti-student and anti-poor," he said in a phone interview.

Also read: Education debate rages after student's suicide
 
Calls have been made to make UP officials, particularly UP Manila Chancellor Manuel Agulto and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Marie Josephine De Luna, accountable for Tejada's death.

Student groups have also demanded an "across-the-board tuition rollback."
 
"If a complete rollback is not possible, perhaps they can come up with a tuition rate that is equitable," Sampang said.
 
Groups also urged officials to rescind the Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP), which they said had failed to ease the burden of rising education costs.
 
"That's the ideal result we want but, depending on discussion, we may consider revisions in the meantime," Sampang said.
 
The STFAP calculates students' tuition based on their families' capacity to pay.
 
Tejada was reportedly classified as bracket D, which meant she only paid P300 per unit instead of P1,000.
 
She had reapplied for a "bracket E," which meant free tuition and a monthly stipend. But she was unable to submit supporting documents, UP Manila officials said.

Related story: UP: Student's death an 'isolated case'

Meanwhile, Agulto touted the lifting of the "no late payment" policy.
 
"Any student with financial constraints will no longer have any problems with regard to tuition fee payment deadlines," the Chancellor said in a statement.
 
He also said UP will strive to improve student-admin relations "through constant dialogue and town hall meetings."
 
Psycho-social support for students will also be increased, Agulto said, amid questions on whether UP provided adequate counselling for students.
 
Tejada's body will be brought to the UP Manila campus Thursday for public viewing at the UP Philippine General Hospital Chapel.
 
"If the family permits, her body will be brought to the College of Arts and Sciences on Friday. UP Manila will sponsor a mass in her honor," Agulto said.
 
Agulto thanked the UP community for understanding what he called a temporary strife."

"We are still, as we always have been, the University of the Philippines of, for, and by the people," Agulto said.
 

"We will continue to uphold that as we promote academic excellence and genuine public service to our dear nation," he added.

 Related slideshow: Black ribbons for Kristel

Students tie black ribbons in front of University of the Philippines campus in Manila on 18 March 2013. The students demand justice for the death of Kristel Tejada, a freshman student at UP Manila, ... more 
Students tie black ribbons in front of University of the Philippines campus in Manila on 18 March 2013. The students demand justice for the death of Kristel Tejada, a freshman student at UP Manila, who committed suicide for after reportedly being forced to go on leave because her family could not afford to pay tuition. (Czeasar Dancel/NPPA Images) less 
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