The University of the Philippines Diliman Quezon Hall
The STAR/Boy Santos, File
UP decision to defer grades said to put class requirements over student welfare
Ratziel San Juan (Philstar.com) - April 16, 2020 - 7:52pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Board of Regents of the University of the Philippines on Thursday earned scorn from students for voting to terminate the current semester under a "deferred" grade scheme, which they said effectively extends the academic term beyond its supposed April 30 end date.

This runs counter to a call by students as well as by faculty and staff representatives to end the semester with mass promotion or by giving passing marks to all qualified students, similar to Ateneo de Manila University's well-received memo.

 RELATED: Ateneo praised for decision to pass students and give tuition fee refunds
 

During the Thursday meeting of the university's highest decision-making body, the student, faculty, and staff regents—representatives of the sectors most affected by the decision—were outnumbered in a 6-3 vote on the deferral policy.

Those who voted in favor of the controversial scheme are Commission on Higher Education Chairman Prospero De Vera III, UP President Danilo Concepcion, House Committee on Higher and Technical Education Chairperson and District Rep. Mark Go (Baguio City), and regents Maria Arlissa Aguiluz, Angelo Jimenez, and Francis Laurel.

The new measure that UP will implement is a modified version of the earlier recommendation by the university's Presidential Advisory Council (PAC).

PAC proposal

The PAC had proposed postponing the grades of those who cannot submit class requirements—for example, for lack of access to the internet or even a computer—"since there is no sufficient basis for assessing students, they will be given a 'deferred grade.'"

"None of the students will fail the course provided they meet the requirements," the PAC said in its policy proposal.

This was in contrast to Ateneo de Manila University’s approach, where qualified graduating students are cleared for graduation while eligible non-graduating students will receive passing grades and will be promoted to the next school year automatically.

UP students whose grades will be deferred would still need to accomplish their course requirements by May 31, 2021, if the measure is enacted by the Board of Regents.

"Should they be unable to do so, students have the option to drop and re-enroll the course in the succeeding semester."

Students would be assessed with a "pass" or "DRP" (dropped) grading scheme but faculty have the option to indicate the verbal equivalent of numerical grades, i.e. Excellent (1.0-1.25).

Even with deferred marks in prerequisite subjects, students would still be able to enroll in higher-level courses.

University faculty would also be mandated to offer “bridging programs to enable the student to catch up with the course in the First Semester 2020-2021.”

RELATED: UP mulls ending sem early as Ateneo readies for post-COVID-19 school year

Final guidelines and implementing rules and regulations are set to be released in the coming days, according to the UP Office of the Student Regent (OSR).

“The Sectoral Regents stood by our position calling for an end to the semester and for the implementation of mass promotion. We express our disappointment at the outcome which did not heed the resounding call of the students, faculty, and staff,” the OSR said in a statement.

“Purely academic output and performance metrics which supposedly determine excellence have been prioritized above the very real financial, physical, psychological and emotional anxieties of students, faculty and staff. We are still being pushed to perform and deliver the expected deliverables even as the pandemic is expected to worsen and escalate and sickness and death permeate the air,” the OSR also said.

Aside from resulting anxiety, students said that the April 30 termination policy also raises more questions than answers, such as the fate of graduating students and the redundancy of “bridging programs” if students will still need to meet the academic requirements anyway.

The deferred grades would also mean an added workload for students in the next academic year, those opposed to the proposal also said.

Others also questioned the integrity and composition of the Board of Regents itself, with only three sectoral (faculty, staff, student) regents among its 11 members.

Meanwhile, De Vera said that revisions have been made to the PAC’s recommended policy but did not specify what those were.

The CHED official said in a report by The STAR that flexibility would still be granted to UP constituent units as well as their respective colleges and departments.

He cited differences in the university's academic programs and circumstances as difficulties in passing a "one-size-fits-all" measure.

— With reports from The STAR/Janvic Mateo

CHED COMMISSION ON HIGHER EDUCATION DANILO CONCEPCION NOVEL CORONAVIRUS POPOY DE VERA PROSPERO DE VERA III UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES UP
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