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Top universities in PH are not just for rich, OFWs told

03 February 2019

Participants pose with Consul General Tony Morales after the seminar.

By Daisy CL Mandap

Studying in a topnotch university in the Philippines need not be expensive - or may not even cost at all.

This was the message given by representatives of some of the country’s premier institutions when they spoke to about 80 overseas Filipino workers who gathered at the Consulate on Jan. 27.

The talk came on the fourth and last day of Hong Kong’s Education Fair, where the Philippines was represented by delegates from the University of the Philippines, Ateneo, De La Salle, University of Santo Tomas and Silliman University.

Consul General Antonio A. Morales who welcomed the speakers, praised the OFWs who attended the meeting, saying it was a time well-spent, given that many Filipino leave for work abroad primarily to send their children through college.

“Yun nga hong mga matatanda sa atin, ang sinasabi sa kanilang mga anak, lalo yung hindi mayayaman, ang edukasyon higit pa sa mga kayamanan na maaaring ipamana nila,” Morales said.

As part of the mission, the university recruiters also had a talk on Jan 24 before senior high school students at Delia Memorial School (Hip Wo) in Kwun Tong, many of whom are Filipinos.

“But not only the Filipino students expressed interest, but also those from other nationalities,” said Jose Wendell Capili, Assistant Vice President for Public Affairs of UP, who was part of the delegation. “Many were half-half, meaning one of their parents was a Filipino, and the other, from another country.”

The next day, the team had a second presentation to students from various schools at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) in Wanchai, where the four-day fair attended by delegates from 22 countries and regions, was held.

At the Consulate meeting, the audience was made up of OFWs who either had kids in school, or were teachers who wanted to further their studies.

They were told that in UP and other state college and universities, students do not pay any tuition fee, while in many other schools, including the reputedly expensive ones like Ateneo and La Salle, the fees can be waived, either because of academic excellence, or because of need.

Ateneo’s Nette Zabala said that one in every five students at the Jesuit-run school is a scholar. They include valedictorians and salutatorians of public high schools who automatically become scholars once they hurdle the university’s entrance examination.

She showed film clips of two Ateneo scholars from low-income families whose lives have changed since they entered the school.

AA dela Cruz, from De La Salle, said there are 18 different kinds of scholarships available at the university, which are granted either on academic merit, or because of need.

The “Star Scholars” get the most benefit, including free tuition, a monthly allowance of Pph10,500, housing subsidy, plus a free laptop.

The Vaurigard scholarship, which is awarded to students from public high schools, also comes with free tuition and a monthly stipend of Php10,000.

The school also has a loan program for students who run out of funds while attending the university.

The loan should, however, be paid by the end of the school year.

At UST, there are also a variety of scholarships on offer, said its representative, Steve Moore. These are mostly sponsored by wealthy alumni like Jollibee founder Tony Tan Cak Tiong and celebrity doctor Vicky Belo.

Moore said UST has the biggest student population in one campus – 42,000 – and about a tenth of these, or around 4,000 are scholars.

Again, his message was that all that a student has to worry about is qualifying to enter the university, and not worry about not having the money to pay for tuition and other expenses.

The only non-Manila based school represented in the fair was Silliman University in Dumaguete City, whose registrar, Giovanni Macahig, also assured the OFWs that there is enough financial assistance for students who are in need.

“We are blessed with generous alumni, so our scholarships are mostly in the form of endowments from them,” said Macahig, whose other come-on for Silliman is its reputation as a “university by the sea”, and about it being “closest to nature.”

During the question and answer portion of the meeting that lasted more than three hours, the teachers in the audience focused mainly on applying for post-graduate studies at the UP Open University.

Capili assured them that they can complete the course entirely in Hong Kong, because the periodic tests can be administered at the Consulate. But if they wished to experience campus life at UP, they can apply to cross-enroll at any of its campuses across the Philippines.

S Anril Tiatco, director of information at UP, told the audience that the college admissions test is not the only way to get into the university. Those who are inclined toward the arts, specially painting, singing, dancing, acting or even cheerleading, can take a talent test to qualify. Outstanding athletes can also qualify through this channel.

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