Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) senatorial candidate Win Gatchalian asked the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to submit a comprehensive report on the compliance to the CHED memorandum of the 313 colleges and universities which were allowed to raise their tuition and other school fees last year.
Gatchalian specifically wants CHED to explain if the higher educational institutions (HEIs) that were allowed to increase tuition fees last year complied with its memorandum that says 70 percent of tuition hikes must go to the salary increase of teaching and non-teaching personnel while 20 percent must go to improvements in school buildings and facilities.
“Before CHED approves a new round of tuition hike applications by HEIs, the Commission should first submit a report on where last year’s tuition hikes were spent. Did these schools follow the CHED guidelines on the allotment of proceeds? Were there sanctions meted out to non-compliant schools?” asked Gatchalian, a majority member of the House Committees on Basic Education and Culture and on Higher and Technical Education.
Last year CHED greenlit the application to increase tuition and other fees of 313 private HEIs, of which 182 would raise both tuition and other fees. The approved increases in tuition translated to an average of P29.86 per unit or a 6.17-percent hike. On the other hand, increases in other school fees have an average of P135.60 or a 6.55-percent rise.
In the CHED Memorandum Order No. 3, series of 2012, proceeds from tuition hikes should be budgeted as follows: 70 percent for increase of salaries and other benefits of teaching and non-teaching personnel, at least 20 percent for improvement of facilities and other costs of operation.
Gatchalian maintained that the creation of an auditing body in the CHED will help solve the perennial problem of exorbitant and unjustified tuition hikes in colleges and universities.
At the same time, Gatchalian is batting for the inclusion of a student commissioner since this will not only institutionalize student representation in CHED but will also pave the way for greater transparency, which student organizations have long been clamoring.
“The proposed appointment of student commissioners in CHED came from the existing practices of student participation in education governance, such as the student regent in the University of the Philippines (UP), and other state universities and colleges (SUCs), as well as the law student representative in the Legal Education Board,” said Gatchalian.
The lawmaker earlier filed House Bill No. 5674 which seeks to expand CHED’s powers to regulate tuition and other fees, requiring the agency to “either disapprove the increase or lower the proposed amount” in cases where a higher education institution (HEI) attempts to impose “exorbitant, unreasonable, or inadequately justified increase in fees.”
Gatchalian’s proposed measure also paves the way for the President’s appointment of a student commissioner to the body to make sure that “primary stakeholders in higher education have a voice in crafting policies and promulgating regulations in pursuance of the Commission’s mandate.
Gatchalian’s bill regulating tuition increases will benefit students coming from poor families but who deserve to be in college to earn a degree. To ensure that school fees will still be affordable, the prevalent inflation rates will be used as a benchmark, he said.
“Any proposed fee increase in excess of the prevalent inflation rates shall be presumed to be unreasonable and must be sufficiently justified by the institution of higher learning proposing the said increase,” said the representative of Valenzuela City’s 1st district. (Monica Cantilero)