CHED urged not to rush approval of tuition hike petitions

Ghio Ong, Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) - April 2, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Student groups yesterday urged the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) not to rush into granting petitions filed by over 400 higher education institutions (HEIs) to increase tuition and other fees that might have been filed without proper consultation with students.

Members of the Kabataan party-list group and the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) staged a protest rally in front of the CHED head office in Quezon City on the last day of filing proposals for tuition increase and complaints yesterday.

Pursuant to CHED Memorandum Order No. 3, series of 2012, all HEIs that plan to increase tuition and other fees for the next academic year should submit a proposal alongside pertinent documents to CHED regional offices on or before April 1.

Prior to the April 1 deadline, it was reported that some 451 colleges and universities nationwide have submitted tuition and other fee hike proposals for school year 2013-2014, including 95 proposals in the National Capital Region and 38 proposals in Western Visayas.

CMO 3 mandates schools planning to increase tuition to conduct consultations with students and other constituents until Feb. 28.

Article VI of the memorandum also states that within 30 days after the consultation period, students can file complaints and grievances for proposed fee increases that did not undergo proper consultation.

“CMO 3 – which replaces previous weak CMOs issued by CHED in previous years – should supposedly impose stricter rules and regulations regarding tuition increase proposals and consultations. Yet the guideline remains to be a cruel joke for the youth, as CHED has no means to monitor compliance to the rules,” Kabataan party-list president Terry Ridon said.

Earlier, CHED chair Patricia Licuanan said the agency would tighten its rules in granting tuition increase.

“By not having appropriate mechanisms to monitor compliance, CHED’s tuition guidelines are revealed to be useless paper tigers. Many schools hike fees even without justification and proper consultation, and CHED can do nothing about these cases but serve as a mere stamp pad,” Ridon said.

CHED executive director Julito Vitriolo, however, maintained that petitions for tuition hikes would not be approved without proper consultation with the students.

In 2012, CHED allowed 222 of 2,181 private colleges and universities nationwide to raise their tuition by an average of 10 percent or P41.52 per unit. 

Meanwhile, the successive cuts in the budgets of state universities and colleges (SUCs) in the last two years were imposed by Malacannang to force the privatization of the educational institutions, a woman lawmaker said yesterday.

Gabriela party-list Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan said the budget cuts and insufficient funding are “part of an existing education budget policy espoused by the Department of Budget and Management, which explicitly states that funds for SUCs will be gradually reduced following the recommendation of the World Bank.”

“The Aquino government wants our SUCs to abandon their public nature and become privatized institutions,” Ilagan said. “President Aquino should properly address the demands of SUCs for increase of state subsidy instead of spreading deceitful claims. Budget cuts and insufficient funds are totally unacceptable,” she said.

She said Malacañang should not also use as an excuse the funding SUCs receive from the pork barrel allocations of members of Congress, as the bulk of it is for scholarships, and the rest for upgrading of equipment and facilities.

She said it is the responsibility of the government, not politicians, to improve the facilities of state schools.

“In budget cutting the SUCs, it is deceiving that the government claims they are proposing an increase in the budget for basic education. It is just fair that they increase the budget for the proper implementation of K+12. Using this as an excuse for cutting budget for SUCs is unacceptable,” Ilagan said.

Officials earlier announced that an increase was proposed in the budget for basic education for 2014 as the Department of Education may get a bigger allocation of P255.2 billion compared to last year.

“It is not only the welfare of our SUCs that is at stake here but also the future of our youth and our nation,” Ilagan said. – With Paolo Romero


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