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Manila: Public colleges, universities eye tuition freeze for 2013

Philippine Universities

Tuition in 111 public colleges and universities will remain at its current level following a recommendation by the leadership of the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC).

PASUC president Dr. Ricardo Rotoras said the association released a memorandum that asked all SUCs to halt tuition hikes, even in schools that already approved tuition increases for the upcoming academic year 2013-2014.

The memorandum, however, is not mandatory as PASUC leaves the decision to the school board of each SUC whether to heed the call or not. The National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) welcomed PASUC’s move, saying it came at a time of soaring prices of basic commodities while wages remain flat.

“On part of the students, we pledge our support to the implementation of the PASUC memorandum by pressuring school boards across the country to abide through mass mobilizations,” said NUSP president Victor Villanueva.

Villanueva also asked private schools to follow suit in light of a report by the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) that at least 451 private colleges and universities have applied for tuition and other fee increases in the next academic year.

“Tuition rates in the country are already excessive. It is plain insensitive and brutal for private schools to increase rates any further,” he said.

Subsidy for all SUCs is at P37.1 billion this year, which falls short of the P54.6 billion requested by the public higher education institutions.

This may go down further in 2014 after the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) put the budget ceiling for SUCs at P31.9 billion, according to the National Budget Memorandum No.116 released last February 15. The budget cap does not account for the allotment for additional projects that SUCs may propose.

“It is highly probable that SUCs will sustain another drastic cut in their budget, as it is the Aquino regime’s policy to gradually decrease funding for state schools and force them to be self-sufficient,” said former NUSP secretary general Vanessa Faye Bolibol.

She said the decreasing state subsidy is in line with the provision in the Roadmap for Public Higher Education Reform – President Benigno Aquino III’s blueprint for SUCs under his term – which states that the government expects 22 leading SUCs to shoulder 50 percent of their budget by 2016.

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