The consultation period for Tuition and Other Fee proposals in all tertiary schools nationwide has just ended. February 28 was the last schedule set by the Commission on Higher Education for school administrators in the tertiary level to conduct consultations with their students regarding proposals to increase school fees.
As this schedule lapses, we remain vigilant in our campaign against Tuition and other fee increases (TOFI). The end of consultation period does not mean that the students’ call to stop all tuition hikes ends as well. After mobilizing the students to actively participate and air their grievances in their respective TOFI consultations, we are now on the move to urge the Commission on Higher Education to intervene in the proposals filed by tertiary school nationwide. Instead of merely observing the process of consultations and ultimately approve TOFI proposals, we challenge the CHED to regulate the tuition hikes by independently studying the justifications for the proposal.
The CHED should not merely rely on the consultations being conducted by school administrators in their respective constituents because usually, these consultations do not follow the proper procedures. For instance, the student body is not appropriately informed regarding the consultations. Announcements of the date and venue of the consultation are not posted 15 days prior to the schedule, as mandated by the CHED. During the consultation period, some Administrations maintain a closed-curtain session, disabling ordinary students to attend, even peek into the ongoing consultation. Thus, only members from the student council, and sometimes, the school publication, are able to sit in the consultation and represent the students. this case happened in the TOFI consultation in Baguio Central University last February 21.
As these tactics are inevitably employed by the Administrator to facilitate the approval of the TOFI proposals, the CHED must make use of its power in deciding upon the proposals. As indicated in Section 42 of the Education Act of 1992, AN ACT PROVIDING FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT AND MAINTENANCE OF AN INTEGRATED SYSTEM OF EDUCATION:
Each private school shall determine its rate of tuition and other school fees or charges. The rates and charges adopted by schools pursuant to this provision shall be collectible, and their application or use authorized, subject to rules and regulations promulgated by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports.
Clearly stated here is the power that CHED possesses in authorizing and subjecting under their rules and standards all TOFI proposals by school administrators. It is in this light that we are firmly calling on the CHED to have a direct hand in these proposals. They must ensure that every centavo of tuition increase is well-justified. In relation to this, the CHED must see to it that the additional revenue resulting from the tuition increase must go to where it is rightly due. According to CHED Memo 13, for non-stock and non-profit educational institutions, 70% of the additional funds shall add to the salary of its employees and 30% shall go to infrastructure development. On the other hand, for stock and profit-oriented institutions, the same percentage shall go to the employees’ salaries, 20% goes to infrastructures and 10% counts as profit for the institution.
In the last analysis, all TOFI proposals should undergo the appropriate process of consultations; that is, with the active participation of students who are the ones to be primarily affected by the increases. Subsequently, if these proposals are approved, we expect the school administrators to reflect the increases in the quality of service the school gives to its students and the just compensation for its employees.
Ultimately, we remain stern in our stand that these tuition fee increases, whatever their rates are, remain essentially unjustified. These increases only make education more unreachable to the Filipino people whose majority of population can hardly afford a day’s meal. Up to this point, our call is unchanged:
Stop all Tuition and Other Fees Increases!
No to privatization of Education and other social services!
Rechannel Military Budget to Education Budget!
COLLEGE EDITOR’S GUILD OF THE PHILIPPINES BAGUIO-BENGUET