08 June 2012

STRAW Coalition and SCAP 'serenade' CHED to stop unjust tuition increases and to support HB 2190

From the Manila Bulletin:
by Ina Hernando-Malipot
07 June 2012

Photo courtesy of BIGKIS-UPM.

A total of 267 private colleges and universities will raise tuition this school year by an average of 10.11 percent or R40.47 per unit.

The Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) announced yesterday it has approved the schools’ applications to raise fees.

Based on CHEd figures, of the 1,666 private Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the Philippines, 267 or 16.03 percent got the green light to increase tuition.

As of May 31, 289 HEIs applied for a tuition increase but the applications of 22 were rejected for various reasons.

The National Capital Region (NCR) has the biggest number of HEIs with approved applications – 64 out of the 308 HEIs CHEd monitors.

NCR HEIs posted an average tuition increase of 7.5 percent or an average per unit increase of P76.25 from last school year’s fee, CHEd said.

While NCR had the biggest share of private HEIs, it presented the lowest percentage increase among the regions but the highest in terms of peso equivalent, CHEd said.

Region II or Cagayan Valley had the highest average tuition fee increase of 16.37 percent or an average per unit increase of P54.00. Region VIII or Eastern Visayas had the lowest – P20.86 or 8.94 percent.

CHED Chairman Patricia Licuanan said that next school year, data on tuition fee increases released by CHEd will include miscellaneous and other school fees. This, she said, is attributed to CHEd’s enhanced set of guidelines for tuition and other fees contained in Memorandum Order No. 3, series of 2012.

Among the key features of the order are the inclusion of miscellaneous fees during tuition consultations and in cases of violation, the commission may impose penalties and sanctions on erring schools such as the revocation of permits, downgrading of status, phase-out and other penalties after due process, Licuanan said.

Earlier, CHEd said more than three million college students are enrolled in 2,309 public and private schools and universities.

Based on the HEI enrollment by discipline, 3,052,153 students will be enrolled in the 1,666 private HEIs and 110 State, Universities, and Colleges (SUCs) main campuses, 424 satellite campuses, 93 local universities and colleges (LUCs) 16 others including 1 CHED Supervised Institution (CHED-ARMM), 10 other state schools and five Special HEIs.

CHEd also reiterated that the commission "no longer prescribes Academic Calendar to HEIs. "In order to encourage innovation and exercise academic freedom among institutions of higher learning, HEIs may establish their own academic calendars and set their opening days, subject to the guidelines in CHED Memorandum Order No. 1, series of 2011," Licuanan said.

Most private HEIs in Metro Manila start classes on June 14.

With the revised guidelines on tuition and miscellaneous fees increase set for implementation next school year, student leaders on Monday of a "rise of miscellaneous fees" that can be charged by administrators of various Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) this June.

The tuition increase is among the issues that students raised during their rally in front of the CHED office in Quezon City on Monday.

Student-leaders all over Metro Manila and Southern Tagalog "serenaded" CHEd officials for a "yes" to the House Bill 2190 or the Students’ Rights and Welfare (STRAW) Bill.

Led by the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP), the largest alliance of student councils and student political parties in the country, and the Coalition for Students’ Rights and Welfare, student leaders called for the pursuant of the said bill in Congress.

The STRAW Bill is an Akbayan-authored bill refiled in the 15th Congress to uphold and protect the rights and welfare of the students. It is the Grand Charter for students’ fundamental rights and freedoms. The bill is authored by Akbayan Representatives Kaka Bag-ao and Walden Bello.

"We all know that our fight is not only focused on students’ rights violations. We have the root cause of these problems. More complex issues have to be resolved especially in the quality, accessibility and relevant education that our students need," said [BUKLURAN UP System National Secretary General] Kristine Baguio.

Students also sent "love letters" to CHEd officials, calling for a higher education budget, student representation, and a regulated education system.

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