Lawmaker files bill to regulate tuition and empower students, parents

AS THOUSANDS of student stage a nationwide education protest Monday, Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raymond ‘Mong’ Palatino filed in Congress House Bill no. 4286 or the Tuition Regulation Act of 2011 to control tuition and other fee increases and empower students and parents by ensuring a democratic consultation and decision-making process.

“The utterly deregulated character of tuition and other fees sadly finds basis in our existing laws and policies. That should be remedied with the creation of new law that will strictly regulate the tuition increases and allow students, parents and members of the academic community to have democratic participation in the decision-making process,” Palatino said.

Palatino cited that in 2001 the national average of tuition and other fees in private higher educational institutions (PHEIs) was P257.41 per unit. He stressed that the rate has gone up to P501.22 (94.72%) in 2010.

In the National Capital Region (NCR), on the other hand, 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 that a college student in the NCR with a 21-unit load has to produce an average of P20, 591 per semester, excluding other school needs such as food, materials and transportation.

Palatino noted that tuition and other fee in tertiary schools nationwide increase an average of 10-15% yearly. He added that most increases do no undergo any form of democratic consultation with students, parents and other concerned sectors.

“The unabated tuition and other fee increases have effectively transformed our schools as ripe venues for aggressive profit-making. Many rich and powerful businesspeople have already ventured into owning schools, allowing them to rake in millions yearly. Despite their high earnings, yearly tuition and other fee increases are still imposed as schools reason out that more money is needed for operation expenses,” Palatino said.

Palatino clarified however that “while it is true that a number of schools need the increase to prevent themselves from closing down, this remains the exception rather than the rule. The fact remains that the process of increasing tuition and other fees takes place within the context of rampant deregulation, big school earnings and the lack of democratized participation from students, parents and members of the academic community.”

Palatino also hit President Aquino, in light of his pronouncement on Saturday of his initial achievements, for failing to repel various assaults to democracy citing as an example the continuous tuition hikes.

“What achievements? The achievements of administration are for the people to affirm, not President Aquino. Before patting himself on the back, President Aquino should first reverse the anti-youth and anti-people policies like tuition increases and price hikes,” Palatino said.

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