268 private colleges to increase tuition

Bulatlat file photo
Bulatlat file photo

Data culled by Kabataan Partylist showed that most private HEIs earn billions a year and have been listed in the Top 1000 corporations in the Philippines.

By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
Bulatlat

MANILA – The Commission on Higher Education (Ched) approved another round of increases in tuition and other school fees for 268 private higher education institutions (HEIs) for academic year 2017-2018.

In its statement, Ched said on the average, the approved increase in tuition is almost 7 percent or P86 ($1.74) per unit, and almost 7 percent also, or P243 ($4.87) for other school fees.

The number of approved applications also decreased, said Ched, from 304 last academic year.

But even then, Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago criticized Ched for approving the increases, which, she said, is no different during the previous administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III. School fees then continually increased, resulting to higher cost of education in the country.

Read: Tertiary education costlier under Aquino, youth groups say

“It’s an unconscionable move that will deepen the financial woes of many students and their families,” said Elago. “With the approval of this new wave of tuition hikes, it is not unlikely that more students will be forced to stop schooling due to financial constraints,” she added.

Over the years, Elago said Ched has served as a mere stamping pad of private schools: approving tuition hikes that led to the current situation that tertiary education has become unaffordable.

High cost of tertiary education

Elago said under the Aquino administration, the national average tuition has risen by P115 ($2) per unit or P3,450 ($69) per semester for a student taking 30 units. “A Filipino college student now typically shells out at least P30,000 to P50,000 ($601 to $1,002) per semester,” Elago said.

There is also “double-charging,” in which students are charged with fees that are supposedly already covered by tuition. Elago enumerated examples of such fees, for garbage, athletics, cultural, donation, energy, Internet, and “developmental fee.”

She lamented that Kabataan partylist and other youth organizations have questioned the legality of such fees, but Ched has not acted on their complaints.

Read: Higher education institutions violate guidelines in tuition, fee increases – student groups

“What has the CHED done to address these concerns? Nothing. It has given abusive school administrators and greedy owners a free hand in milking students and parents out of every peso that they have,” Elago said.

Elago also slammed Ched’s statement on the “need to balance access issues with sustainability of educational institutions.”

“Highlighting the absurdity of the situation is the fact that these private schools are in no danger of losing money or going bankrupt anytime soon,” said Elago.

Data culled by Kabataan Partylist showed that most private HEIs earn billions a year and have been listed in the Top 1000 corporations in the Philippines.

Data by Kabataan Partylist
Data by Kabataan Partylist

Most of these schools are owned by the country’s top billionaires, such as Henry Sy, who owns Far Eastern University with 60 percent stake in the institution; Lucio Tan who acquired UE in 1990; Centro Escolar University which is owned by the Yap family whose other business interests include the Manila Hotel and the Manila Bulletin.

Supposed non-stock, non-profit schools also raked in billions.

Data by Kabataan Partylist
Data by Kabataan Partylist

Same neoliberal policies under the Duterte administration

President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign promise of change is not felt in the education sector as the same neoliberal policies opposed by youth groups are still being implemented under his regime, said Mark Vincent Lim, National Union of Students in the Philippines (NUSP) spokesperson.

“The policies of deregulation, commercialization, and privatization in our education remains firmly rooted, as manifested by the continuing collection of exorbitant fees,” he added.

Lim also criticized the pending bills in the Senate and Congress: Senate Bill 1304 or the Affordable Higher Education Act, and House Bill 5633 or Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, which have both been approved in final reading. Designed to implement a socialized tuition scheme, he said these bills will even more limit the number of students who reach college.

Lim said their group will continue to oppose all forms of tuition and other fee increases, and continue the call for free public education at all levels. ()

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