Automatic Tuition Hikes Allowed

BY ZOFIA LEAL
Bulatlat.com

This coming school year, students and their parents will have to face another round of tuition fee increases. The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) issued Memorandum No. 14 allowing private schools and universities to raise tuition by 7.6 percent, consistent with the current inflation rate, without prior consultation.

This coming school year, students and their parents will have to face another round of tuition increases. The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) issued Memorandum No. 14 allowing private schools and universities to raise tuition by 7.6 percent, consistent with the current inflation rate, without prior consultation.

Based on guidelines issued by the CHED national office, higher education institutions (HEIs) that plan to increase tuition beyond 7.6 percent would have to undergo prior consultation with the student council, faculty association, three members of the alumni and the school administration. HEIs that raise beyond 7.6 percent without prior consultation would face sanctions such as revocation of their permits, downgrading of standards; accreditations or even possible closure.

The CHED Memorandum No. 14 or the “Guidelines and Procedures to be observed by Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) intending to increase Tuition and Other School Fees and introduce New Fees” will be put in effect this school year. The memo replaced the CHED Memorandum No. 13 issued 1998. The new memorandum sets the prevailing inflation rate as ceiling for increasing tuition without prior consultation. The new guideline is supposedly the CHED’s response to the clamor against continuously increasing tuition and other fees, which render access to education more difficult during these times of economic hardship and crisis.

The CHED said that Memorandum No. 14 has the following features:

1. It covers not only tuition but “other school fees” increases including “new fees”;

2. Allowable increase in both tuition and other fees less than or equivalent to the prevailing year’s inflation rates, shall not be subjected to consultations;

3. Increase of tuition and other fees over the prevailing year’s average inflation rate shall require a consultation process with the concerned sectoral representatives;

4. New fees shall be for actual specific student services rendered as may be identified by the school authorities and certified by the recognized student council and faculty association;

5. Submission of a Certificate of Agreement signed by the duly authorized representatives of the HEI’s Administration, Student Councils/Governments, Faculty, Alumni and/or non-teaching permanent associations whenever applicable in cases that application of new fees are initiated and agreed upon by the students;

6. The recognized student publication should be allowed to cover the consultation;

7. The Higher Education Institutions shall submit all annual report on increases in other fees and as to how they were utilized;

8. Organization of the Task Force on Tuition and Other School Fees at the regional levels, in lieu of the Multi-Sectoral Committee on Tuition;

9. For applications referred by the CHED Regional Office to the Regional Task Force on Tuition and Other School Fees, the regional office shall enclose the application with its recommendation to the Executive Director within 30 days upon resolution by the Task Force but in no case later than April 15 of the year the intended increase shall be implemented.

Institutionalizing increases

The National Union of Students in the Philippines (NUSP), an alliance of student councils nationwide, said that while it appears that the CHED through Memorandum No. 14 is trying to control fee increases by expanding the coverage to include other fees and new fees; for requiring prior consultations; and providing for stricter monitoring, it actually gives HEIs more leeway to increase tuition. The NUSP said that with the memorandum, CHED institutionalized automatic annual increases in tuition, other fees and new fees as it removes the students’ right to be consulted regarding increases below the prevailing inflation rate. NUSP said that students must be consulted regardless of how high or low the planned increase is.

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