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MU admin holds Zoom student dialogue

Lea Ysabel Q. Evangelista, Reine Amabel J. Jaruda, and Kristin Clarisse H. Mateo

In response to the request of local councils, Mapúa University's administration organized an online student dialogue last May 5 via Zoom to address the concerns regarding rebates and digital learning for the third and fourth quarters of the current academic year.

Participants of the dialogue included Executive Vice President (EVP) for Finance and Chief Finance Officer Ruth C. Francisco, EVP - Chief Operating Officer and Treasury Head Raul Victor B. Tan, and EVP for Academic Affairs Dr. Bonifacio T. Doma, Jr, some officers of both the Mapúa Central Student Council (CSC) and local councils, and some students who registered for the meeting.

Students reaching out

More than a week after the announcement of the enhanced community quarantine, the CSC created a survey which garnered 690 responses about the students’ wellness and situation. 57 percent of the participants claimed they have internet connection issues while at the same time, 57.7 percent revealed they lack sufficient supplies for their online activities. 

Last April 1, the Council of Presidents (COP) released a unified statement addressed to Dr. Doma regarding the upcoming digital term. They mentioned the concerns of each school/department regarding the implementation of online learning and the unclear guidelines provided by the administration. 

The CSC then published a second survey last April 8 focused on gathering the students' feedback on digital learning for the third quarter. 1,767 respondents provided their insights on the suspension of classes, online classes, the "Can Pass, Can't Fail" policy, and refunds. 94 percent of the respondents opted for a refund on laboratory fees, with five percent of the total asking for an acceptable partial refund while seven percent of the total stating that the miscellaneous fees should be refunded as well.

Last April 30, the University released a memo regarding the rebates and discount rates. For the third quarter, a 15% rebate on laboratory fees and 7.5% on miscellaneous fees is mandated. For the fourth quarter, there will be a 20% discount on laboratory fees and 15% on miscellaneous fees. The local student councils submitted a letter to the University President and CEO Dr. Reynaldo B. Vea following the memo, forwarding the concerns regarding the breakdown of computations and a consultation meeting with the students. 

The administration’s response

Fransisco emphasized that the proposed tuition fee increase will not push through next academic year for current students but will still be applied to all incoming freshmen.  On the issue of rebates, wherein the students believe that the rates are unjustified considering the actual expenses of the University, the EVP for Finance mentioned that the medical fees were for the medical services from February 10 to March 16 as well as the subscription to KonsultaMD, an online medical consultation service. She added that the library fees were for the available e-resources and athletic fees were for the athletes' expenses for the past term. 

It was stated in the meeting that if students would like to receive the refund in cash and/or if there are other concerns about financial assistance, they may approach the Treasury Department.

As for the payment methods besides PayMaya, Tan replied that students can channel their payments through InstaPay or bank transfers. He added that the payment instructions are posted on the University’s social media accounts and official website.

Moving on, Dr. Doma assured that no student will be removed from their respective programs due to academic deficiency, as there will be no academic status review. On the topic of scholarships, he announced that the Center for Scholarships and Financial Assistance (CSFA) will a release a memo and that students can send an e-mail to the CSFA for specific academic-related inquiries.

He also said that in progress (IP) marks can only be converted to a numerical grade until the end of the succeeding term. The same can be said for the fourth term IP marks since the "Can Pass, Can't Fail" policy will remain intact. In addition, he clarified that if a student passes an advanced course but fails to complete the IP for the pre-requisite course, the student’s passing mark will remain valid. 

With regards to the improvement of online learning, Dr. Doma announced that they have released a memo to all faculty members to utilize a multi-modal delivery online system that will cater to students with varying internet speeds. They are also trying to develop visual materials for laboratory courses and continuously improve the delivery of online courses.

The EVP for Academic Affairs then said that it is the University's responsibility to carry on with the academic year for those who do not have problems with their internet connection. He shared that, based on a survey with around 1200 respondents, there is an 89 percent participation rate online, which became the basis for the continuation of the digital term. “We cater to the majority. The greatest good for the greatest number of people,” he imparted.

The University has a total of more than 15,000 students.

Meanwhile, Tan expressed that they do not want the students to be delayed and that they still want the students to learn despite the difficulty. Still, he said that they still must consider everyone before making a decision. “Students are one of the stakeholders of the school, but we also have our employees and shareholders. We also have to consider them. We have to consider everyone,” he stated. 

“We are a company; therefore, we have to pay salaries,” Tan added. 


In an interview after the student dialogue, CSC President Gerardo Jose B. Catangui conveyed that the administration did not address the main student concerns directly. "The questions on transparency on financial and academic policies, reevaluation of rebates, and student representation in decision-making were answered with deflection and gaslighting,” he stated.

He added that questions regarding the reevaluation of the rebate were left out four times during the question and answer portion.

Catangui forwarded an email to the administration for further clarification. "I expect and urge the management to uphold what is right and just for the students. The struggle is hard, but nonetheless we persist," he said, asking on behalf of the student body for the cooperation of the administration.

There has been no reply as of May 9, but the University released the bases of the rebate in line with the students' request for transparency. However, there is no numerical breakdown or computation for the percentages. 

As of May 10, the rebate values can be viewed upon loggin in to one's myMapúa account.

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