*James is an international student in DLSU, wishing to avail financial assistance by applying forth the Student Assistantship and Resource Training Program (START) in which financial support is in turn received after several hours of service rendered to the University.
However, it turns out that the program is eligible only for the students who are Filipino citizens. Furthermore, the same rule applies for all other scholarship grants and student loan programs by the University.
In its guiding principles and according to the principles of an equal, accessible Lasallian education for all, The University should be giving equal rights to all of its students regardless of the nationality. However, a thin line between the local and international students exists—international students cannot DLSU scholarships.
Resources for the nation
Joel Navarez, Coordinator for InternallyzFunded Scholarships explains the rationale behind the current system. “This is consistent with the DLSU core value of Service (mores), which means that DLSU is committed to being a resource for Church and Nation and being socially responsible in building a just, peaceful, stable and progressive Filipino nation by providing accessibility of Lasallian education for the poor yet capable and deserving Filipino men and women,” he explains.
Reodel Masilungan, Director of the International Center (IC) briefly adds, “La Salle scholarships are only given to Filipinos because [in the future, these scholars will help] in the development of the Philippines. Foreign students, if they graduate, will return home instead.”
As such, there has never been a case in DLSU’s history in which international students received scholarships from the University itself. Moreover, the status quo is likely to remain in the succeeding years because it is not part of the University’s strategic plan yet, Navarez adds.
Number of international students
According to figures from last academic year, the international student population in DLSU was estimated at around 800. Based on the interviews conducted with some personnel of the IC, there were a considerable number of international enrollees during the first term of that academic year. However, the number decreased in the succeeding terms.
International Student Advisor, Rhodora Caballero explains, “The number of [international] students decrease by the third term because of several factors: some have graduated while many take a leave of absence and do not come back anymore.”
She identifies some specific reasons of the decline. “Many Koreans, especially the guys, will say that they are taking the leave of absence because of the military service,” she says. “Few would be for medical reasons. Some would go back to Korea because they are saying they have insurance there,” she furthers.
Yet generally, the number of international students increases throughout the years, in line with the increasing overall number in the University’s student population
The tuition factor
International students are required to pay a special fee of P3,500 to the University every term, making their tuition higher than the Filipino students.
However, the survey directed to international students revealed that the decision of international students to study here is not affected by the University’s tuition fee.
Former president of the United International Student Organization (UNISTO), Indonesian Rhea Adri (IV, AB-PSM) shares that she does not feel the weight of the added value, citing that on average, the fees international students have to pay are close to what the local students have to pay as well.
However, she still wonders for what purpose the fee serves. “We pay a separate fee when we have to take care of our immigration papers through the campus,” she laments.
On the other hand, Cambodian Phin Pou Sonida (III, MFI) does not mind, saying “It’s like paying insurance because International Center will always make themselves available if we need help.”
Financial assistance alternatives
In light of the rules set by the University, international students may still avail of scholarships through their home country or by international funding agencies.
“There are international scholars here, but these international scholars are funded by international agencies like Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). So these scholars are already pre-screened by their home country before they can go here,” affirms Masilungan.
Though DLSU does not grant University scholarships to international students, these students, however, can avail of a tuition discount through other financial assistance programs through the Student Affairs office and other related branches of student activities, such as Culture Arts Tuition Discount, Student Publications Tuition Discount, and Athletic Scholarships Tuition Discount. By recommendations from Culture and Arts Office (CAO) and Office of Sports Development (OSD), students are granted tuition discount, while tuition discount for students who become part of the publications are granted by being part of the Editorial Board of one of the Student Media Office’s student media groups.
“If the University takes into consideration that there are international students who also have financial need, and give at least few number of international student scholarships and other financial assistance, it would be good also,” notes Caballero. “However, the fact that international students can study outside their country generally means they can afford the tuition fee,” she adds.
*Student name was changed upon his/her discretion.