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

April 8, 2020 - 2:45 PM
Ateneo Blue Eagle Gym
Undated file photo of the facade of Ateneo Blue Eagle Gym. (Photo from Philstar)

Ateneo de Manila University will give its students passing marks and refunds to their tuition fees in response to the global health crisis spurred by the novel coronavirus.

The Katipunan-based school in a memo said that eligible non-graduating students will receive passing marks in their subjects and will automatically be promoted to the next school year.

Graduating students will also receive passing marks but they can request for the letter equivalent of their grades this semester. They are also cleared for graduation “provided that they satisfy certain conditions.”

“Giving a P (passing) mark is the most humane way of dealing with student grades under the circumstances we are in, where it is difficult and unfair to make a judgment of failure considering that students have not been given the benefit of a full semester to improve their performance,” part of the memo says.

Students are also entitled to a P20,000 refund from their tuition and other fees and a 60% refund from laboratory fees, although these will be processed at the end of the semester.

Those under partial scholarships will also get a refund on a pro-rated basis.

The whole second semester is also shortened and expected to end on May 8.

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‘Student-oriented’ move

The announcement was lauded by Ateneans and non-Ateneans alike, who called the move “democratic” and “student-oriented.”

“Ateneo did the right thing. They made a decision that benefits everyone and even laid out concrete plans for its stakeholders,” a student tweeted.

“I hope other schools speak up ASAP like what Ateneo did. No student should be stressing over schoolworks while there is a pandemic,” another student wrote.

“Ateneo, again demonstrating what (it) should be like to choose the more loving option and to highlight what is most important for its stakeholders. Good job on responding to the times and in the best interest of our students,” a creative writing teacher said.

Parents were also relieved of the tuition refund since students cannot fully maximize the use of their course materials as originally intended because of the pandemic.

“Salamat Ateneo! In times like this, its going to be a big big help to all the stakeholders and students! God bless you more!,” a parent commented. 

To address concerns on course materials usage, Ateneo said that it plans to hold “free audit classes, free workshops and free modular activities onsite or online” to non-graduating students after the current semester.

“What Ateneo did is a good example, full of wisdom and reasonable. This kind of decision relieves stress to students and to us parents who, at this point, are anxious about school pressure amidst the risks of COVID,” a Facebook user wrote.

Earlier, student councils from some of the prominent universities in the country asked the Commission of Higher Education to suspend online classes in light of the pandemic due to internet accessibility concerns.

They also lamented how some students’ home environments aren’t conducive to learning.

CHED has also urged private universities and colleges to defer from collecting tuition fee payments and other penalties following appeals from parents and students who are unable to pay due to the suspension of work, operations and services.

Well-being over assignments 

Since President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered onsite classes to be suspended in view of the enhanced community quarantine, schools have shifted to distant learning methods with the aid of the internet.

However, not all of the students have access to such and not everyone can immediately cope with the schoolwork given the heightened anxiety as a result of the pandemic.

Experts from the United States’ National Child Traumatic Stress Network noted that educators should prioritize “relationships and well-being” rather than assignments and behavioral compliance as long as the threat of COVID-19 remains.

“In shifts to distance learning, educators will need to actively focus on maintaining attitudes of inclusivity. Now more than ever, students should feel valued and welcome regardless of their background or identity,” they said.

“Remember that students may be dealing with many different home life situations while trying to maintain their academics, and there are myriad reasons they may be embarrassed to share about why they can’t complete assignments,” they added.

The experts also mentioned that shifting to distant learning and having fewer direct interactions “can make assignments feel more overwhelming and daunting” to students.