The University of the Philippines (UP) on Monday lamented the half a billion cut in its proposed funding for fiscal year 2024, saying it would affect scholarship expenses and its daily operations.
During the Senate committee on finance hearing on the proposed 2024 budget of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and state universities and colleges (SUCs), UP System president Angelo Jimenez said UP’s proposed P21.3 billion budget under the 2024 National Expenditure Program (NEP) decreased by about P564 million, compared to the P21.8 billion proposed 2023 budget.
Jimenez said UP initially requested a P40.8 billion budget for next year, but was only allocated a total of P21.29 billion or about 47% less of what they were asking.
“Much of the reduction from the university under the NEP would directly impact training and scholarship expenses, utilities, supplies, and materials, maintenance and other operating expenses—in other words, our day to day operations of the existing university,” he said.
The UP president noted that they have 65,000 students, including graduate students, and about 18,000 personnel all over the country.
UP is currently composed of eight constituent universities around the country, and one autonomous college based in Tacloban. It also has ten extension campuses, and is set to build six more campuses.
It also administers the Philippine General Hospital.
The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) earlier said UP’s budget under the proposed 2024 expenditure plan will not affect student admissions.
The DBM explained that the “seeming decrease” in UP’s budget “is attributable to the congressional initiatives in the 2023 General Appropriations Act (GAA) for various capital outlay projects for infrastructure, which are one-time or non-recurring expenditures, hence no longer included in the FY 2024 NEP.”
For 2023 GAA, the educational institution was granted a P25.52-billion budget.
Archipelagic and Oceans Virtual University
Meanwhile, Jimenez said that UP now has an Archipelagic and Oceans Virtual University, which aims to promote an “archipelagic consciousness” in the country.
“We have just established the UP Archipelagic and Oceans Virtual University, which is composed of many of our programs that have something to do with not just oceans, but trying to promote an archipelagic consciousness sa buong bansa [nationwide] so that we can view it as part of our national identity,” he added.
Jimenez said the new university is still under the technical working group stage, and will include the College of Fisheries in Visayas, the Marine Science Institute in Diliman, and even the Naval Architecture.
Senator Risa Hontiveros stressed its importance, considering the tension in the West Philippine Sea and concerns regarding the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
“The ocean diplomacy, the blue economy, the West Philippine Sea, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCOS) are a very central part of it and as a matter of fact, one of the drivers of the creation of this particular virtual university,” Jimenez said.—AOL, GMA Integrated News