Bigger Tuition Hikes Greet School Opening

Besides, said Raymond Palatino, Anak ng Bayan (nation’s youth) Party vice president, there are more loopholes in the controversial memo. For instance documents required for tuition hike applications, he said, can be easily fabricated to justify the proposed new increases.

“The new memo does not provide any measure that will delve deeper into these reports and tuition increases in the previous years prior to the new CMO,” Palatino said. “Since CHEd’s creation, we have yet to hear of a school penalized by the commission for violating its guidelines and for illegally tuition hike.”

He said student representatives’ experiences prove that consultations for tuition increase application are for mere information dissemination only with the increase enforced anyway despite strong student resistance.

Furthermore, CMO No. 14 stipulates that if the CHEd Regional Office (CHEdRO) and the Task Force on Tuition and Other School Fees failed to act within 30 days from receipt of the application and cases elevated to them, the intended increase will be automatically implemented. This makes any complaint futile as CHEd will approve applications for tuition hikes anyway, student groups say.

The Task Force on Tuition and Other School Fees, created by CHEd at the regional level, will serve as a recommendatory body for all complaints and disputes forwarded by the CHEDRO. Palatino said however that the task force appears to have no genuine student representation. The body has nine members – four from schools or school owners’ associations; three are government officials; a faculty union representative; and a student representative, which will still be designated by the National Youth Commission which is under the Presidential office.

“Unfortunately, CHEd is seeing tuition hikes as an inevitable process or a natural phenomenon. Such framework serves CHEd’s long-held axiom that quality education comes with an expensive price tag,” the Anak ng Bayan vice president said.

Limited slots in SUCs

State universities and colleges (SUCs) are plagued by similar problems. Huge budget cutbacks for the last years led to increases in tuition and other fees thus forcing many state scholars to leave. Palatino said SUCs are also forced to accept only a limited number of students due to financial constraints.

Last year, the University of the Philippines (UP) Office of Admissions said some 64,000 high school graduates all over the country applied for the UP College Admission Test (UPCAT). Of these, 40,000 sought to enter UP Diliman alone, the university’s flagship campus.

But only about 11,000 applicants are finally admitted each year into the state university. At its College of Nursing, only 70 or 0.5 percent of some 14,000 applicants are admitted.

Considered the premier state university in the country, UP has seven autonomous universities – UP Diliman, UP Los Baños, UP Manila, UP Visayas, UP Open University, UP Mindanao and UP Baguio – and operates in 11 campuses nationwide. The university offers 492 graduate and undergraduate programs to more than 50,000 students.

The same goes with the Polytechnic University of the Philippines College Entrance Test (PUP-CET). PUP has 16 branches and extensions in Luzon and each unit conducts its own PUPCET. In PUP’s main campus in Sta. Mesa, Manila about 50,000-80,000 students take up the entrance test every year but only 10,000 are admitted. PUP’s tuition is P12 per unit.

Palatino said that because of the perennial tuition hikes there is a very limited space left for private school students who want to transfer to state institutions. Those who do also they find SUCs increasingly prohibitive with similar tuition hikes.

Palatino sees an upsurge in college dropouts this year. “College hopefuls have nowhere else to go. They may just have to give up their dream of earning a college diploma,” he said. Bulatlat

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