Casiño: Cost of education too high for poor families

CONGRESSIONAL Committee on Higher and Technical Education senior vice-chairman Rep. Teddy Casiño today said that the cost of education now in the country has become “simply too expensive for ordinary families.”

At a media forum on tuition fee increases this morning, the solon slammed the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) for being inutile especially after the agency admitted to Congress last May 8 that it has never actually turned down any application for a tuition increases.

The CHED likewise admitted having no policy on miscellaneous fees which of late, Casiño said, has been used to go around CHED’s circulars on tuition increases.

A study by the Kabataan partylist shows that in 2001, the national average of tuition and other fees in private higher educational institutions was P257.41 per unit. This rate went up to P501.22 in 2010, amounting an increase of 94.72 percent. In the National Capital Region, the average tuition and other fees in 2001 was P439.59; it has gone up to P980.54 in 2010, an increase of 123.06 percent. A college student in the NCR with a P210 unit load has to produce an average of P20,591 per semester, excluding other school needs such as food, materials and transportation.

At present, a student in a private college or university needs an average of P22,552.38 per semester to be able to enrol, this amount also does not include payment for miscellaneous fees, books and other school needs, and allowance.

“The impact of these fee increases is that the poor find it very hard to finish their studies and the consequence is that they can’t go up the income ladder. What is worse though is that this has become a vicious cycle and the CHED has done nothing to stop it,” said the progressive lawmaker.

In the May 8 hearing where CHED officials admitted having approved all applications for tuition increases, Casiño said: “May problema tayo dyan. It’s as if you’re just going through the motions. Do you check their rate of return? Do you check if they are engaged in excessive profiteering?”

“Lumalabas nyan na inutil ang CHED. Walang kapangyarihan, kung meron man ay token. The fact that you have no formula for setting tuition rates, ni walang benchmark for a reasonable rate of return ng schools exposes your failure to protect the public interest,” Casiño admonished CHED  officials.

Casiño, a champion of youth and education issues, said it explains why in his almost 10 years as partylist representative, the problem of tuition increases has persisted.

“Apparently, CHED has no power to deny tuition increase applications, only to approve it, since the only requirements are certificates of compliance (consultation and 70% of proceeds supposedly for salaries of staff), a letter of advice and other pro forma documents. In reality, CHED has no power or ability to check if the increases are necessary and how they figure vis-a-vis the schools’ profits,” Casiño said.

Palace earlier advised CHED to ensure that the fee increases are within reasonable rates but this is actually beyond the power of CHED. The number of higher educational institutions (HEIs) seeking tuition increase only went down from 301 to 222 because the others were not able to comply with the requirements and withdrew their applications.

This coming school year, 222 HEIs will increase their tuition by an average of 10 percent or P41.57 per unit (nationwide average of P475.47 per unit according to CHED data). This is the same as last year’s 10 percent and not far from the highest recorded increase of 11.6 percent in 2005. According to Kabataan partylist, the top 5 biggest earners among the country’s schools amassed P15 billion in revenues with more than P3 billion in profits in the last six years.

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