Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts

Vol. V,    No. 18      June 12 - 18, 2005      Quezon City, Philippines











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Bigger Tuition Hikes Greet School Opening

The Commission on Higher Education’s (CHEd) recent claim about a tuition increase freeze this year is turning out to be mainly for public consumption. As schools opened last week, more colleges had actually applied for tuition hike and, to top it all, this year’s tuition increases were higher compared to previous years.

By Carl Marc Ramota

The Commission on Higher Education’s (CHEd) recent claim about a tuition increase freeze this year is turning out to be mainly for public consumption. As schools opened last week, more colleges had actually applied for tuition hike and, to top it all, this year’s tuition increases were higher compared to previous years.

Last year, 381 or 28.84 percent of 1,321 private higher educational institutions (PHEIs) applied for tuition increase. This year, CHEd officials said, fewer private institutions or 205 schools applied for tuition increase this year.

CHEd spoke too soon. Its own report last May revealed that actually 276 or 20.49 percent of the total 1,347 PHEIs applied for tuition hike.

Although the number of schools applying for tuition increase may have been smaller, this year's average tuition hike is just the same higher compared to last year.

In the commission’s partial report, the national average tuition hike is pegged at 11.52 percent from 11.37 percent increase in 2004. Now, the national average tuition per unit is P353.03 per unit, an increase of P36.43 from last year's rate.

In the National Capital Region (NCR or Metro Manila), tuition went up by 11.33 percent, higher than last year’s 10.83 percent hike. At present, tuition rate in the NCR is P722.41 per unit or P15,170.61 for a full 21-unit load.

NCR still tops tuition increases it having the most number of schools that increased tuition at 65. But Regions 10, 6, 9 and the Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR) registered the biggest percentage of PHEIs that increased tuition. Region 10 had 33.87 percent of schools or 21 out of 62 schools increasing their tuition; Region 6, 32.43 percent of the schools or 24 out of 74 schools; Region 9, 31.91 percent or 15 out of 47 schools; and in CAR, 31.03 percent or 9 of the 29 schools.

Highest tuition increase

Compared to other regions, however, Region 8 has the highest average percentage tuition increase with 19.26 percent hike. The lowest recorded tuition hikes are in Regions 10 and 11 with 9.36 percent and 9.78 percent, respectively.

In the NCR, the Asian Theological Seminary (ATS) posted the biggest tuition hike with a 150 percent increase. Tuition per unit in ATS now stands at P1,500 from P600 last year.

Tuition rate is highest at University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center (UERMMMC) with P2,090.91 per unit or PP43,909.11 for a student with a 21-unit load. Closely trailing UERMMMC is the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) with P2,079.82 per unit.

These schools are joined by De La Salle University (DLSU) - College of Saint Benilde, with P1,772.20 per unit; DLSU Manila, P1,696.97; University of Santo Tomas (UST), P1,427.39; Assumption College, Inc.,
P1,361.00; St. Scholastica's College-Manila, P1,335.60; Mapua Institute of Technology (MIT), P1,302.91; Manila Central University (MCU), P1,164.98; and Miriam College, P1,132.00.

New memo, new loopholes

Supposedly to arrest runaway tuition and miscellaneous fee increases, CHEd issued a new order to tertiary schools applying for fee hikes. CMO No. 14 imposes a cap on tuition and miscellaneous fees based on the country's prevailing inflation rate.

CHEd has also included more requirements for tuition increase application. Schools intending to increase tuition must submit a Certificate of Compliance that previous year's incremental proceeds from tuition increase were used for personnel services and improvement of facilities and a Certificate of Agreement in the application of new fees to signify that new school charges were initiated and agreed upon by students.

Youth and student groups have however opposed the new CHEd memo, saying it will only "legitimize yearly increases in tuition and other school fees."  

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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