The University Councils (UCs) of the eight constituent universities (CUs) of the University of the Philippines System, as the highest academic bodies of the CUs, unanimously decided that there will be no UP College Admission Test (UPCAT) for the intake of first year students in Academic Year 2021-2022. The results of the Special UC Meetings of UP Diliman and UP Manila and of the referendums of the other CUs were submitted to the UP Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs (OVPAA) on October 28, in time for an update on UPCAT in the 1355th meeting of the UP Board of Regents (BOR) on October 29.

As stated in a memorandum issued by the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs on 30 October 2020, the University Councils of the CUs “unanimously voted NOT to administer UPCAT in light of logistical issues in the paper-and-pencil testing of about 100,000 17-year old applicants.” Taking into account the uncertain trajectory and uneven spread of COVID-19 in different parts of the Philippines, majority of the UC members did not deem it feasible to administer the usual UPCAT involving around 1,600 testing personnel deployed to 94 testing centers throughout the archipelago. According to the same memorandum, majority of the UC members did not consider an online UPCAT examination feasible either. This is primarily due to the length of the exam and variety of items that would require a consistently strong Internet connection to download within the time allotted for examinees to answer.

The University Councils are vested with the power to “fix the requirements for admission to any college or unit, graduation and grant of honors subject to minimum system-wide requirements”, according to Sections 16 and 17 of Republic Act No. 9500 or the UP Charter of 2008. For this reason, proposed changes in the University’s admission policy must be approved by the University Council of each UP constituent university, which consists of the chancellor as chairperson and all faculty members holding the rank of assistant professor and higher as members.

The BOR, for its part, noted during its October 29 meeting the report presented by the Office of Admissions (OAdms) and the OVPAA, as well as the choice of all University Councils in the UP System to forego administering the UPCAT for AY 2021-2022. The BOR also instructed the OAdms to come up with a modified freshmen admissions system specific to AY 2021-2022 by February 2021 in light of the pandemic. This includes the use of big data analytics to arrive at a UP admission score model, which the OAdms, together with other concerned offices, is currently developing, as well as the determination by academic units of an additional layer of screening for particular programs, if deemed necessary.

The Office of Admissions (OAdms) had presented five options for UP admissions to the eight University Councils, the System Academic Affairs Committee, University Executive Committee, and the President’s Advisory Council even while it was simultaneously taking stock of the availability of the UPCAT testing centers and the volunteer testing personnel in the event the UC decided to administer UPCAT 2021.

Had there been no pandemic, UPCAT 2021 would have been administered on 10-11 October 2020.

The submission of UPCAT application Form 1 (Personal Data Sheet) and Form 2 (High School Records) is still required, although these forms have been modified to account for stricter data privacy, efficiency, and the health and safety risks in this pandemic. While UP encourages online accomplishment and submission, it is cognizant of technological limitations and will accept manually accomplished forms.

Following the decision of the University Councils, OAdms has set the start of the application period in December 2020. The exact date will be announced.

For those interested in applying for admission to the University of the Philippines for AY 2021-2022, please watch for further announcements from the OAdms.

To prevent the spread of misinformation, the University would also like to remind the general public to get their information regarding the UPCAT and admissions into UP only from the Office of Admissions’ website and Facebook page, and the UP System website, Facebook page, and Twitter account.