Monday, June 13, 2005


JUNE 4, 2005

“Like the jueteng scandal, higher education in the country has become a high-stakes affair,” says NUSP Deputy Secretary General JPaul Manzanilla, “in which Filipino students will again have lost the biggest gamble of their lives due to insurmountable tuition and other fee increases in the coming school year.”

In the National Capital Region, where most colleges and universities are located, the tuition fee per unit reaches an expensive average of 722.41PhP/unit in which 65 out of 244 higher educational institutions (HEI) or 26.64% applied for tuition fee increases, according to the Commission on Higher Education, notwithstanding the unregulated skyrocketing of dubious miscellaneous and other fees such as development fees, energy fees etc.

Manzanilla laments that though Malacanang froze tuition fee hikes in state colleges and universities (SCUs), the current national average of 353.03 pesos per unit of tuition in private universities is still a far cry from the double-digit tuition fee per unit of SCUs to be an affordable, accessible and quality alternative to Filipino students.

This is too much for a minimum wage earning family that receives less than 66,000 pesos a year, in which half is spent on a college education with bleak prospects in the light of double-digit unemployment rates and high levels of underemployment across the country.

As tuition fees rise inexorably high and with a college dropout rate of 73 percent based on the Wallace report on higher education, the Commission on Higher Education seems to have come up only with a band-aid solution to the education woes of the Filipino student with its CHED Memorandum No.14 seeking to put a tuition cap based on the rate of inflation. “It only serves to institutionalize the unmitigated control of HEIs in raising tuition fees based on their whims and caprices, without the need for genuine student consultations,” he explains further.

According to a recent UP study on education, no direct correlation exists between high tuition fees and the quality of education, as evidenced by 115 HEIs given phase-out orders by the CHED due to very poor passing marks (below 5 percent passing rates) in various licensure examinations for five consecutive years (1997-2001). In that span of time, 35 HEIs got zero-passing rates in Accountancy licensure examinations along with other schools averaging a measly 18.4 percent passing rate.

As such, the National Union of Students of the Philippines is urging Malacanang to declare a moratorium on tuition and other fee increases in all colleges and universities nationwide because increases in tuition and other fees of any kind and at any rate can never be justified nor be acceptable in the eyes of the Filipino students in the wake of a snowballing economic crisis as a result of crippling price increases, fiscal uncertainties and greater economic disparity.

Manzanilla finally asserts that it is the constitutional duty of the state that the right to education is ensured and ceases to be a pipe dream built on the relentless urge of capitalist-educators for superprofits, making milking cows out of the students and their families.

If this demand continues falling on deaf ears, it is absolutely certain that the students and the youth will struggle forward and continue their fight for their right to education, linking arms with the people in advancing their democratic rights and aspirations.

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