Tertiary education costlier under Aquino, youth groups say

Youth groups are set to stage walk-outs to protest rising tuition and other fees.

By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — Tuition and other fees had constantly increased in the past five years under the Aquino administration, bringing in millions of pesos in profits to private companies at the expense of students.

Vencer Crisostomo, Anakbayan national chairperson, said President Aquino has done nothing to stop the soaring cost of tuition and other fees. “He will be remembered for his heartless trampling of the Filipino youth’s right to education,” he said.

This coming academic year 2016-2017, about 400 colleges and universities are planning to increase tuition.

Crisostomo said that the youth groups will protest the increases through a nationally coordinated walk-out this February and March, which will call for a freeze in matriculation rates nationwide in time for next school year. The groups also demand the scrapping of the deregulation policy in education.

Data culled by the Kabataan Partylist from the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Data culled by the Kabataan Partylist from the Securities and Exchange Commission.

A study conducted by Kabataan Partylist showed that annual college level tuition rates have doubled, with tuition at the lower end increasing from around P30,000 to P50,000 ($600 to $1,000), while those at the higher end rose from P60,000 to P100,000 ($1,300 to $2,100).

On top of tuition are school fees which cost as high as P20,000 ($420) annually, the group said.

Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon reported the findings of the study in a legislative forum on tuition and other school fees conducted by the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education (CHTE) on Wednesday, Feb. 3.

Schools make super profits

The same study also shows that the some of the biggest schools at the University Belt in Manila doubled their net profits, earning by the millions in the last five years.

The Far Eastern University (FEU), which consistently appears in Business World’s annual Top 1,000 corporations, increased its net profit by 81 percent from 2010 to 2015, the Lyceum of the Philippines University (LPU) by 140 percent, while the University of the East, by 30 percent.

The study also showed that non-stock, non-profit universities also posted considerable increases in net revenue, or total collection net of operating expenses, from 2010 to 2015. The De La Salle University (DLSU) posted a 62 percent growth in net revenue, while the University of Santo Tomas (UST) increased its net revenue from P941 million in 2010 to over P1.3 billion in 2015 (from $19.7 million to $27 million).

“With the highly deregulated nature of the Philippine education system, college education has become a very lucrative business, with many private universities posting billions upon billions in profit. These data show that under President Aquino, this system of moneymaking in education has clearly gone from bad to worse,” said Sarah Elago, National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) president and Kabataan Partylist first nominee.

Data compiled from the Department of Budget and Management also showed that state universities and colleges’ total tuition collection in SUCs has increased by 55 percent, from P5.3 billion ($111 million) in 2010 to P8.1 billion ($170 million) in 2015.

Data culled by Kabataan Partylist from Department of Budget and Management.
Data culled by Kabataan Partylist from Department of Budget and Management.

Collection from other school fees had also spiked, with SUCs posting an 83 percent increase in total other school fee collection in the past five years.

Ridon said SUCs have been gradually increasing their tuition and other fee rates in the past years in compliance with the “self-sustaining” framework under the Roadmap for Higher Education Reform, Aquino’s masterplan for public higher education.

Various schemes were implemented in SUCs also to gradually increase tuition collection, said Ridon. The University of the Philippines, for one, implements a “Socialized Tuition System,” which categorizes the students’ tuition depending on their assessed financial capacity. In 2014, UP’s tuition collection had increased by $2.5 million compared to 2010.

Elago said the cost of higher education, especially public higher education, is not only a local concern – but a national issue. “The current state of college education in the country – which is highly unaffordable and inaccessible for the common Filipino – is the result of the Aquino administration’s continued push to turn education into a business venture, a luxury commodity, rather than a right,” she said.

She called for a radical reorientation of the Philippines’ education policy. “The fight against tuition and other school fee increases is not just a localized issue – it’s a fight against an extant policy that has eroded and snatched the youth’s fundamental right to education.” ()

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