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BU to implement landmark Equity Policy on admissions for marginalized sectors

February 26, 2024

In a milestone move for inclusive admission policies, Bicol University through the Office of Admissions has crafted the Equity Policy for Admission to Undergraduate Programs in Bicol University, which was approved by the Board of Regents (BOR) on February 21, 2024 during the Special Meeting in Manila, with CHED Commissioner and BU BOR Chairperson Dr. Marita R. Canapi, after having passed the rigors of administrative and academic councils, and duly incorporating the recommendations of the BU BOR.

To ensure equity and inclusivity, the Bicol University Admissions Office (BUAO) headed by its Dean Dr. Hennie Pama-Lomibao, RGC and Prof. Ray Artimus P. Hinlo, RPsy, University Psychometrician, and the members of the proposal committee, John Raymond Barajas, MSChE, MSDS, Associate Professor, College of Engineering, Pee Jay N. Gealone, MEng, Assistant Professor, College of Engineering, and Dean of the Office of Student Affairs and Services Daves Tonga, with BU President Dr. Baby Boy Benjamin D. Nebres III, serving as Research Team Consultant, proposed the landmark policy.

The landmark policy echoes the current vision of Bicol University as a “University for Humanity for Sustainable Societies,” that adopts the legacies of previous administrations while responding to the need for a more inclusive and equitable education. Said policy is also a response to the call of CHED Chairperson Prospero de Vera for “a fair, more inclusive, and equitable public university admission system.”

Based on a review of BU admission policies, there has not been any revisions done for the past three decades. The current selection of qualified first-year students for undergraduate courses is through the Bicol University College Entrance Test (BUCET) which is a measure of scholastic aptitude. For the past decades and to date, the entrants were gauged on the score from BUCET performance combined with the general weighted average (GWA) in Grades 9, 10 and 11, each allotted a percentage weight of 80-20 percent, respectively.

Then CHED Commissioner and BU BOR Chairperson Aldrin A. Darilag called the proposal “the first-of-its-kind” among State Universities and Colleges (SUC) in the Philippines. With the recently approved Equity Policy for Admission to Undergraduate Programs in Bicol University, admission criteria have been added indicative of a “prospective student’s handicap, such as but not limited to socio-economic and geographical considerations.”

This Equity Policy for admissions will be implemented for a period of two years, beginning First Semester, SY 2024- 2025, with a validity period subject to review, including its extension, amendment or discontinuance as approved by the BU Board of Regents.

A Secretary’s Certification (No. 15 s. 2024) has been issued attesting to the BOR action pending the approval of Minutes of the Meeting embodying the corresponding resolution.


A More Inclusive BUCET
The tenet of the innovative and landmark Equity Policy for BU admissions is reflected in the introductory part of the proposal as stated:
“It’s hard to imagine a university for the poor congested with private cars in its parking spaces; it’s harder for conscience to bear seeing subsidy from government, a big chunk of which is taken from our taxes for free tertiary education, enjoyed by students coming from more affluent, higher-income families.It’s hardest knowing that these realities exist, and we do not act decisively to leverage the inequitable barriers to college admission.”

With this, the admission to Bicol University will now revolve on the following criteria: BUCET examination result (65%), General Weighted Average (20%), and Socio-economic Profile (SEP), 15%. The SEP will consist of the Income Classification and Marginalization.

The Income Classification is based on the DSWD Listahanan 3.0. On the other hand, the Marginalization profile shall be determined based on any of the following categories: Indigenous People (IPs), Persons with Disabilities (PWD), Solo Parents, Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiary, geographically isolated and depressed areas (GIDA), and others as prescribed by law.


Other Provisions
As consistently done, the University cut-off score shall be calculated by the Admissions Office using performance mean score. However, the policy will not cover Program Quota as this shall be overseen by separate issuance from the Office of the University President.

To ensure that the policy is properly implemented, this will be revisited every two years after its implementation. This is also to guarantee that the allocated SEP percentage is still practical and relevant to the university’s targets and equity policy.

To warrant implementing the proposal and to enhance provision of affirmative action policies and programs in relation to the Equity Policy, such as the creation of additional decentralized BUCET Testing Centers in the next five years, provision of academic support services to students from marginalized groups, and psychosocial support services to students with special needs, an annual budget of Php 2.3M has been allocated.

With this landmark policy to serve the Bicolano scholars, Bicol University as a University for Humanity hopes to achieve the unwavering commitment to transformative education that fosters inclusivity, innovation, and social impact. | by Dr. Renelyn E. Bautista/CPRO with data from BU Admissions Office