Youth groups warn public of impending tuition hikes

Amidst the wave of toll, fare and price hikes, Rep. Raymond ‘Mong’ Palatino of Kabataan partylist and leaders of national youth organizations today warned the public to prepare for yet another increase of tuition and other fees in schools nationwide.

“The country’s education system has become so commercialized to the point that it is now a custom that private schools increase tuition and other fees yearly. The tuition increase will definitely aggravate the effect of the current price hikes. Preparing the public for this mean fomenting a critical mass movement to curb this trend.” Palatino said.

According to Palatino, the national average of tuition and other fees in Private Higher Education Institutions (PHEIs) in 2001 was P257.41 per unit. The rate in 2010 has gone up to P501.22 (94.72% increase). In the National Capital Region (NCR), the average rate of tuition and other fees in 2001 was P439.59; it has increased to P980.54 (123.06%) in 2010.

Palatino said that this means that a college student in the NCR  with a 21-unit load has to produce around P20,591 per semester. The amount does not include miscellaneous fees which, in many PHEIs, are even higher than the actual tuition.

Based on the trend for the past ten years, Palatino estimates that an average of 10% tuition increase will be proposed for the school year 2011-2012.

Palatino said the for the upcoming tuition consultations, usually done between February and March, students and parents must be “extra assertive” in  ensuring that a democratic process is followed. He said that any form of increase should be a product of consensus among the key stakeholders of any educational institution and not a mere dictate of school administrators.

“The usual conduct of tuition consultations is this: school administrators merely inform the students and parents about the tuition increase. In other words, there is really no consultation that takes place.” Palatino said.

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) makes use of its Memorandum Order no. 13 as the guidelines that schools with proposed tuition and other fee increases ought to follow.

Palatino said, however, that much still has to be fine-tuned in the CHED memo 13 which has been the subject of intense criticism for its removal of a tuition cap and the exclusion of miscellaneous fees tuition from consultations.

Palatino furthered that the Education Act of 1982, which gives private schools the sole right to determine tuition and other fee increases, has to be repealed.

“The CHED memo 13 and the Education Act of 1982 are two major policies which permit the incessant increase of tuition and other fee increase. The efforts of lawmakers to repeal the said policies will only succeed if the youth and the people are also active in the campaign of democratizing education,” Palatino said.

Kabataan Party-list has filed the ‘Tuition Moratorium Act of 2010’ in Congress. Palatino said the the bill aims to put a three-year stop to the increases as legislative bodies investigate on the past increases and determine a regulated rate for tuition and other fees.   D’Jay Lazaro

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