What the UPCAT Lines are telling us

The estimated 12,000 who jammed the University of the Philippines campus in Diliman, Quezon City to beat the July 30 deadline for the submission of their UP College Entrance Test (UPCAT) applications is without precedent. Never in the university's history has there been such an interest to enter it.

This outcome, many opine, is due to the government's new laws and measures granting free college tuition in all state colleges and Universities. As the lines show, the allure of free college education is hard to resist, especially if it is a state school that is ranked the country's highest. Other State colleges and Universities will see similar lines for enrolment. The core benefit: what was once spent for enrolment fees can now be spent for daily school expenses. 

Those who cannot pass the UPCAT can do well to try a lateral entry (read: transfer) from another college. Those who do not opt to enter university can find work after senior high school. The K-12 program already gives one that opportunity. This may very well be taken by those who, at the outset, cannot afford a college education. Like thousands of others, they can earn the money needed to fund a future college enrolment in case they fail to enter a state college. All that said, these all provide new opportunities and chances available for our youth. 

there is a need, nonetheless, to broaden access to higher education for those wishing to earn its degrees. Records from the Commission on higher Education show that there are 233 public universities against 1,673 private tertiary educational institutions. Of this number, there are 1,385,458 enrollees in state colleges, while there are 1,596,345 enrollees in private colleges and universites. This means that over the next four years or so, only 1.3 million slots are available for the deserving college enrollees. 

Perhaps more schools can be built. Likewise, the National Certification Systems under the Technical Education Skills Development Authority (TESDA) are a viable alternative that has landed many a good job both here and abroad. 

In case government decides to expand public tertirary and technical - vocational education, more can obtain the education they need to succeed. 

With these programs and measures in place, the lines to take government college entrance exams tell us that access to higher learning is no longer as prohibitive, as more families can now afford to send their children for higher learning.