Students held a protest on Thursday night at Quezon Hall of University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, seeking solutions to shortage of dormitories at the state school.
Dorm slots for UP students have been unavailable since August 3, the start of the school year at the government university.
In the meantime, the students were given temporary shelters in the old office of the UP workers union.
Some of them camped out and made the Sunken Garden their temporary home while others were adopted by friends who already have dorm rooms.
Still others spent time at commercial establishments operating 24/7.
A slot in a UP dorm can cost around P2,000 a month including meals.
Some dorms, however, are semi-private like the Acacia and Centennial residence halls, which charge P1,500 a month, excluding meals and electricity.
Michael Tan, UP-Diliman chancellor, held a dialogue with the students also on Thursday.
He said they have processed only 186 of the 300 appeals made by the students seeking dorm slots.
Some of the appeals were from those looking for accommodation in lower-priced dormitories, with UP charging higher rates for its newer dormitories.
Tan admitted that it will take time to solve the dorm shortage.
“Nagpapanawagan kami sa mga ibang alumni na baka merong mag-donate ng isang buong dorm [We are calling on UP alumni who may want to donate a whole dorm],” Tan was quoted as saying in a report by ABS-CBN.
Rep. Terry Ridon of Kabataan party-list, in a statement, expressed alarm not only over the dormitory issue but also that on registration hounding the opening of classes in the flagship campus of the University of the Philippines.
“UP charges the highest tuition among all public state universities. Yet UP students are not exempt from class opening woes, such as the lack of dormitories and shortages in the number of offered classes. We call on the UP administration to immediately act on these issues. Paying high tuition and school fees is already a heavy burden for students and their families. The least the UP administration could do is to provide efficient service to all students. What is happening right now is far from being efficient,” Ridon, a former UP student regent, said also on Thursday.
Student groups earlier pointed out that a major cause of the dorm shortage is the sharp increase in the number of freshmen accepted by the university.
About 3,563 freshmen students are enrolled for the current semester, up from the 2,723 last school year.
The spike in the number of accepted students may be linked to the university’s preparations for the implementation of the K to 12 Senior High School Program next year.