By Helen Flores
A total of 353 private universities and colleges have filed petitions to increase their tuition and other fees this coming school year, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) said.
The most number of private higher education institutions (HEIs) seeking the increase are from Metro Manila with a total of 74 schools, followed by Region 4A with 46, Region 3 (41), Region 11 (33), Region 6 (25), Region 1 (23), Region 7 (21), Region 10 (19), Region 5 (18), Region 12 (12), Cordillera Administrative Region (11,) Region 2 (9), Region 4B (9), Region 9 (6) and Caraga (6).
None of the 81 private tertiary schools in Region 8 (Eastern Visayas), the area devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda last year, applied for tuition hike.
The CHED regional offices are expected to submit to the central office their verified and approved lists on or before May 15, the agency said.
“CHED will ensure that HEIs meet the guidelines provided by law, especially the requirement of consultation, the allocation of tuition and the strict adherence with the processes that seek to make tuition increases transparent, reasonable and affordable,” it said.
Section 42 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 232 or the Education Act of 1982 stipulates that “each private school shall determine its rate of tuition and other school fees or charges subject to rules and regulations promulgated by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports.”
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Last year, CHED allowed 354 out of 1,683 private HEIs to raise their tuition and other school fees.
The average tuition increase per unit for school year 2013-2014 was P37.45 or 8.5 percent nationwide.
The Supreme Court dismissed in June last year a petition seeking to stop 354 HEIs from hiking their tuition and other fees.
‘Pay the price’
An official of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) yesterday defended the move of several colleges and universities to hike their tuition anew.
Anthony Coloma, advocacy information and management officer of the CEAP, said that while he empathized with those who are burdened with the daily cost of living, tuition hike is something that cannot be avoided in the course of time.
“Quality education is expensive. The state universities and public schools are financed by the Philippine government. Meanwhile, the primary lifeblood of private Catholic universities and schools is the tuition,” said Coloma.
He said schools cannot give teachers promissory notes when it’s time to pay their salaries.
The CEAP official also said that prior to increasing the cost of education, they hold consultative dialogues with concerned stakeholders such as the parents, students and alumni.
“Tuition adjustments are not done in a vacuum. It is always consultative and done in the context of the common good. Moreover, 70 percent of the increase in tuition made by private Catholic schools is allotted to the salary and benefits of the teaching and non-teaching staff,” he said.
“In addition, any adjustment is done with greater sensitivity to our students’ capacity. Otherwise, they might move to the public school system where tuition is free,” Coloma said.
The CEAP is the national association of Catholic educational institutions in the Philippines. It was founded in 1941 and has 1,252 members, including universities and colleges offering academic and continuing education programs that are at par with schools in the United States and Europe.
However, around 700 of CEAP’s members are mission schools offering basic education to the country’s marginalized sector.
In a related development, around 20 members of a leftist teachers’ group yesterday trooped to Gate 7 of Malacañang to demand higher salaries and lower market prices.
Chief Inspector Lucille Faycho, chief of operations of the Manila Police District, said the rallyists belonged to the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT).
“The protesters were seen coming from McDonalds, maybe that’s why they were able to go to Gate 7,” Faycho said, referring to the fastfood chain’s branch near Centro Escolar University (CEU) in Manila.
This branch, about two buildings away from Gate 7, is inside the Malacañang compound, where rallyists are not allowed.
Protesters, however, are allowed to air their grievances outside the gates of the Mendiola peace arch, just beside CEU.
Cops immediately dispersed the rallyists toward the peace arch.
Vladimir Quetua, ACT deputy secretary-general, said that while Aquino is squeezing them to death in the form of low salaries, higher taxes and skyrocketing increases in the prices of basic commodities, he is deaf when it comes to their demands. (The Philippine Star)