An advocate of Education reform in the House of Representatives has questioned the Commission on Higher Education’s (CHED) approval mechanism regarding the tuition hike in 313 colleges and universities nationwide for the new school year in June.
Valenzuela City Congressman Win Gatchalian wants CHED to explain if the higher educational institutions (HEIs) that were allowed to increase tuition fees last year complied with its memorandum, which requires that 70 percent of tuition hikes must go to the salary increase of teaching and non-teaching personnel.
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.
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“Before CHED approved the applications of over 300 schools for tuition and other fees increase, did it monitor where the proceeds of last year’s tuition hike were spent? Did these schools follow the CHED guidelines on the allotment of proceeds? Were there sanctions meted out to non-compliant schools?” Gatchalian asked.
Last year, 287 HEIs increased their tuition and other fees following approval by the CHED. Tuition and school fees increased by P35.66 per unit and P141.55 on average, respectively.
For this year, CHED greenlit the application for tuition and other fees hike of 313 private HEIs, of which 182 would raise both tuition and other fees.
Approved increases in tuition would translate 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.
A majority member of the House Committees on Basic Education and Culture as well as on Higher and Technical Education, Gatchalian strongly reminded CHED of its watchdog function against unreasonable school fee hikes.
Related Post: What is ‘Equity and Justice in Higher Education Act’?
“One mandate of CHED is to make higher education accessible to all, especially to indigents who need it the most for their social mobility,” he insisted.
CHED is mandated to “ensure that quality higher education is accessible to all who seek it particularly those who may not be able to afford it,” following the central government’s “commitment to transformational leadership that puts education as the central strategy in investing in the Filipino people, reducing poverty, and building national competitiveness.”
Gatchalian has filed House Bill No. 5674, to be known as the “Equity and Justice in Higher Education Act,” which proposes the creation of an auditing body that would assess the compliance of HEIs on the allocation of proceeds from the imposition of tuition and other fees.
Those found to be non-compliant shall be banned from imposing any fee hike for three years.
The proposed measure also requires the appointment by the President of a student commissioner 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.”
The student commissioner, who shall serve a one-year term without reappointment, must be 30 years old or below and enrolled in any undergraduate, graduate, or post-graduate degree in an HEI in the country. The student commissioner must also be an incumbent or former student representative to his/her school’s board of regents and has “unimpeachable integrity” and “impressive track record in promoting students’ rights and welfare.”
Prevalent inflation rates will be used as a standard to guard against outrageous fee increases. “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 Gatchalian.
At least two college students have committed suicide in the recent years following their family’s inability to pay their college tuition.
Last year, a respiratory therapy freshman named Rosanna Sanfuego from the Cagayan State University reportedly hanged herself at home over unpaid school fees. The University has been imposing a “no tuition policy” since 2009 but had been collecting miscellaneous and other school fees amounting from P2,000 to P4,000.
In 2013, 16-year-old Kristel Tejada, a behavioral science freshman at the University of the Philippine in Manila, killed herself by drinking silver cleaner after she was forced to file a leave of absence for owing P10,000 in tuition fees. (Monica Cantilero)