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Business

Cause and effect; The rising costs of education

Carlo S. Lorenciana - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - As costs of education go up faster than how much an average citizen is earning these days, attaining a college education has become a perennial problem for most Filipinos.

As another school year opens in the next few days, several colleges and universities have sought the approval of the government to allow them to increase their tuition fees for the next school year.

While the rising college costs have become too much of a burden to parents and students, the schools for their part, likewise presented justified reasons for imposing an increase.

The Commission on Higher Education makes sure that higher education institutions  comply with the requirements and guidelines set by the government before granting their intent to raise school fees.

Purpose

A large percentage of any tuition hikes is allocated for the allowances, wages and benefits of both teaching and non-teaching employees of an institution, said Dr. Josefino Ronquillo, CHED region 7 supervising education program specialist.

CHED Memorandum Order 3 of 2012 requires HEIs to give the 70 percent of the increase to the employees' needs.

The other 20 percent is allocated for the improvement, upgrading, acquisition of school facilities and equipment.

The said percentage also spends for the implementation of faculty development programs and trainings and expansion of student services.

While the remaining 10 percent is intended for the return of investment especially for institutions that are stock corporations.

"So, those are the justifications the CHED has to see for the increase," Ronquillo told The FREEMAN in an interview.

Before the release of the commission's approval, HEIs applying for an increase in tuition fees and other school fees must submit a notarized Certificate of Compliance to prove that they would implement the percentage shares of the income, Ronquillo explained.

The CHED specialist added that the institutions must also do consultations on the planned increase with the different stakeholders in the school including student officers, faculty representatives, administration staff and office employees.

"There is a particular timeline for that," he said. "The consultation is only until February 28 of the year."

And all other documents to be submitted are subject for scrutiny by the regional office and later on by the CHED central office.

April 1 was the deadline for the submission of applications for TOSF increase and today,  CHED regional offices are expected to submit to the central office the agreed list of the private HEIs permitted to increase their school fees.

In addition, Senator Bam Aquino earlier called on the Higher Education Commission to consider the quality of education as one of the major criteria before allowing a school to increase tuition fees.

"Obviously, that (quality of education) can be seen because as far as the correlation statistics is concerned, the more quality faculty line-up you have, the better the performance of colleges in the board exams," Ronquillo said.

He noted that quality of education can be seen on the instructional materials used by teachers and the level of teachers' awareness on new teaching ways.

"So by that we can easily see the results and the performance of our students," he further said.

Dwindling enrollment

Ronquillo shared that several schools, especially the small ones, have experienced reduced income or deficit due to low enrollment count of students.

However, Ronquillo, who used to be a school administrator and teacher before, believed that increasing the tuition fee is not the solution to make up for the dwindling enrollment.

"Before, I managed a small school and it only had few enrollees, only 13," he recalled, adding that it could even be harder for the school business to survive without the financial support from a mother school.

However, despite the school's financial status being in the red, they did not intend to increase the tuition considering that they needed more enrollees.

"We attract enrollees, the parents, you should not increase tuition fee because we do believe that the bind behavior of the Filipinos is that they are very particular with figures," he said.          

Instead, he is encouraging schools to do more first on advertising and marketing and maintain income generating activities, saying that increasing the tuition is not always a guarantee that a school would survive operating in the education industry.

"It's a certain sacrificial thing," he further said, "that is how you finance the operation--triple in marketing."

He believed that in the business of operating an educational institution, it takes years to make a profit and reach a break even.

Ronquillo stressed that what is important, after all, is to prove that the school is giving a quality education to students and to the community in general.  

Cutting subsidy

If it may happen that the state government would stop funding state-run colleges and universities, these institutions can choose to raise tuition fee, resulting to a cost shift.

"The reasons must be justifiable and can be enjoyed by the students," he said. "We can detect if they are in need. In that situation, they need to find other resources to improve and survive."

For a school to be deserving of a tuition increase grant, it must prove that its students are competitive and employable both locally and internationally, he added.

Moreover, in Central Visayas, at least 21 private colleges and universities have petitioned for an increase for the new school year. However, no state-run schools have applied for the fee increase, Ronquillo said.

Meanwhile, college student Danica Patalinghug, 18 and a resident of Lapu-Lapu City expressed disappointment on the impending school fee increase in her school.

She lamented that the tuition fee increase will have an impact to their family especially that one of her siblings is also in college, while two are in high school.

Patalinghug, who will be in fourth year this school year 2014-2015, said she hopes that the government will also consider the plight of many students and parents who will be affected by the tuition fee increase. (FREEMAN)

CENTRAL VISAYAS

CERTIFICATE OF COMPLIANCE

DANICA PATALINGHUG

EDUCATION

INCREASE

RONQUILLO

SCHOOL

TUITION

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