Beyond the tuition fee and miscellaneous fees that come with enrollment, students usually incur a variety of financial costs in the fulfillment of academic requirements. Many expenses are expected parts of the educational process, whether involving buying a textbook or paying for the printing costs of a short paper.
However, certain instances inherently incur much larger costs. For an output like thesis, certain groups of students may incur large costs from printing alone, in addition to the other expenses related to the research process itself. Likewise, class projects, group reports, and excursions are among some of the academic activities that students engage in which sometimes tend to incur large costs in the process.
As a research-oriented University, DLSU currently aids its students mainly through its faculty members and free access to academic literature in the library’s physical and online facilities. Nonetheless, a large bulk of research-related costs remain shouldered by students.
Theses and printing among top costs
In an informal survey conducted by The Lasallian, 36 DLSU students share their experiences with costs they incurred in the fulfillment of academic requirements.
Most respondents cited thesis as the output where they incurred the most financial cost in a single instance. Approximately 77.78 percent of respondents (28 respondents) identified thesis, 8.33 percent (three respondents) cited excursions, 5.56 percent (two respondents) cited research papers, 5.56 percent (two respondents) for simulations and talk shows, and 2.78 percent (one respondent) for group projects and presentations. Other options which were not chosen at all include video presentations and “others.”
Respondents also indicated the largest amount they have had to pay for a single project of the abovementioned types. Most respondents cited a range of P4000 and above, followed by a range of P1000 to P2000. Specifically, 16 respondents cited P4000 and above, two stated a range of P3000 to P4000, two said P2000 to P3000, 11 cited P1000 to P2000, and five cited less than P1000.
Some of the respondents cited experiences in relation to the costs of fulfilling theses. Chris* revealed that in the College of Science, particularly in the Biology program, thesis costs totaled to more than P30,000. Likewise, two respondents shared that students in Communication Arts incur a lot of costs in the fulfillment of thesis, particularly due to the equipment-related and logistical expenses associated with production.
In relation to these costs, almost all respondents shared that printing and data gathering constituted the bulk of their spending costs in the fulfillment of theses, papers, and class projects. In a checklist type question, 32 respondents cited “printing, binding, paper, etc.,” 17 cited “data gathering, analysis,” and 14 cited “transportation” costs. Meanwhile, 11 respondents pointed out venue and laboratory costs, five cited prizes for participants, and five cited costs for literature acquisition. Seven respondents also identified other costs, including “apparatus construction,” “bazaars,” “materials or components for projects (engineering prototypes),” and “statistical fee.”
To subsidize or not?
The thesis is a requirement in almost all courses in DLSU, and ultimately serves as the final major output of a student before he or she can graduate from the University. It entails extensive research, as well as logistical issues depending on the nature of the study involved. However, most, if not all, costs incurred in the process are shouldered by the students themselves, despite the thesis being a University requirement for most courses.
When asked whether the University should subsidize theses for students, approximately 81 percent of respondents (29 respondents) answered in favor of such, while about 19 percent (7 respondents) answered against it.
In favor of thesis subsidization by the University, respondents brought up the large expenses currently incurred by students in doing thesis, the financial situation of scholars and students from low-income families, the duty of the school to support its students, the academic value of supporting quality work, and the high tuition fee already collected by the school.
“DLSU is known to be a research-oriented community. Knowing this, it is only fair that the school supports its students to make the best of their work, especially if it has a potential to make changes in society,” says Martin*.
On the other hand, Claire*, a Communication Arts student, shares that their theses are usually funded 100 percent by themselves and their families. “It would be nice if we could be reimbursed or at least be supported financially because majority of the Communication Arts theses are good enough to be sent to film festivals and photo competitions, which would earn back the money and of course prestige for the University as well.”
On the other hand, students against the idea mainly cited that the University has no say over the topics that students choose, and that students should be left to decide how they will manage their finances.
Patrick* believes it is up to the students to decide how they will manage their expenses and resources for the completion of projects. “What DLSU can do is to ensure that the academic requirements are feasibly affordable and necessary for the students’ quality education. It’s more of the how worth it a requirement is for the students,” he adds.
Meanwhile, Katrina* shares that DLSU should not provide financial support for a student’s thesis because the University has no formal control over a student’s specific research topic of interest. “[Moreover], the source of the financial support may also affect students’ tuition and fees in the future should the University provide financial support,” she conveys.
In the long run, financial costs as a college student are inevitable, but as shown by several students it may further entail excessive amounts which they are unable to readily spend for. As such, one possible alternative is for the University to be able to provide financial programs specifically for the subsidization of theses and class projects.
Names with asterisks (*) are pseudonyms.