AN education lawyer on Wednesday challenged the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to bare the list of state universities and colleges (SUCs) that wil increase their tuition and other fees this school year.
According to Joseph Noel Estrada, CHED did not disclose state funded colleges and universities that are poised to raise their tuition for school year 2015-2016 along with more than 300 private colleges and universities.
The CHED has announced that 313 private higher education institutions (HEIs) were allowed to increase their tuition and other school fees.
“CHED released data on colleges and universities that were approved for tuition and other fees increase. But what CHED did not include in the picture are state funded colleges and universities that increase tuition every year just like private HEIs,” Estrada told The Manila Times in a text message.
“Do they [state funded colleges]even apply for increase or consult students like the private schools do? The thing is, SUCs should provide free education because it is state funded,” he added.
Estrada said SUCs should not hike their tuition because they are subsidized by the government.
“Why are SUCs increasing tuition in the first place?” he asked.
Eighty percent of college students are enrolled in private universities while 20 percent go to state universities and colleges, Estrada said.
“Why should SUCs compete with private HEIs for students? And why can’t the SUCs provide education to the 20 percent?” he asked. “These questions must be answered in the light of recent COA [Commission on Audit] findings of CHED’s doubtful distribution of P169 million to scholars; and P1 billion worth of student loan programs.”
Sought for comment, CHED executive director Julito Vitriolo said the commission has asked SUCs not to increase their tuition.
“SUCs are not supposed to increase fees since they have budget subsidy,” Vitriolo said.
He did not disclose how much subsidy has been allocated for state funded universities and colleges.
The CHED official also noted that the commission through the boards may intervene to avert any increase.
“Above board naman lahat ang implementation [tuition increase]because we have guidelines and we made sure the beneficiaries got their benefits,” Vitriolo explained.
The Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (Pasuc), an association of public HEIs composed of 102 state universities and colleges, admitted that a number of state funded universities and colleges will increase their tuition and other school fees this year.
Pasuc President Ricardo Rotoras however said they do not know how many SUCs will be allowed to increase tuition.
Rotoras, also the president of the Mindanao University of Science and Technology, said state colleges and universities hold consultations with the students when they plan to increase tuition.
“When we charge fees, SUCs conduct consultation with the students. As a matter of fact, the student council president sits in the Governing Boards of the SUCs. For the last four years that SUCs received meager increase from the national government, most if not all SUCs did increase the fees. If only funding from the national government is sufficient with the ballooning student population, no additional fees is necessary,” Rotoras said.
“We charge fees so that we can construct more buildings and equipment and we can still accept those who wanted to enrol in SUCs. If we rely solely on the budget given to SUCs, about 70 percent of our students now can’t be accommodated anymore. What the SUCs charge to the students goes back to them in terms of more classrooms, equipment and facilities,” the Pasuc president added.
According to Rotoras, the budget allocation for the SUCs in the past years has been dwindling in real terms.
“Allocation for capital outlay (fund for the construction of additional classrooms and equipment) has been nil for the past 15 years, with the exception in 2013-2014. No funds for additional faculty and administrative personnel for the increasing number of students enrolling in the SUCs since the 80’s. The budget of SUCs now is on the same level as the budget in the early 80’s (in real terms) where the student population was still about 30 percent of what we have today,” he said.