Cordillera state schools to hike tuition by 300%

BAGUIO CITY – With measly budget, Cordillera state universities and colleges plan to increase tuition to P100 per unit and another 20 percent every year thereafter until the tuition rate per unit stands on P300/unit ($7.04).

The recently approved proposal by the Cordillera Administrative Region Association of State Universities and Colleges (CARASUC) will take effect next school year.

By June next year, tuition for all SUCs in the region will be at P100 ($2.35)per unit. This will increase to P120/unit ($2.81) on school year 2013-2014, P144/unit ($3.38) on SY 2014-2015, P172.80/unit ($4.05) on SY 2015-2016, P207.36/unit ($4.86) on SY 2016-17, P248.83/unit on SY 2017-18 ($5.84) and finally, P298.59/unit ($7.00) on SY 2018-19.

The continuing decline of subsidy from the national government to the operations of SUCs is the culprit behind the increasing cost of public tertiary education.

“It is vision of CAR SUCs to provide quality education to its constituent, however, the realization of this vision is facing a dilemma because of the continuing decrease in the MOOE (Maintenance and Other Operating Expenditures) subsidy and no appropriation for Capital Outlay for SUCs from the national government,” the minutes of the CARASUC’s meeting last year stated.

There has been a P230 million budget cut from the budget of all 112 SUCs in the country for 2012. The allocation for Personal Services (PS) has been decreased by P403.3 million despite the supposed automatic increase in PS for each year due to the Salary Standardization Law. Like the previous years, there is no allotment for Capital Outlay (CO) or the funds for the construction of new facilities. In the region, there is a minimum eight percent cut in the PS. Among the SUCs in the region, an accumulated P79 million ($1.85 million) is slashed from their total budget.

“This trend merely manifests the orientation of education that Aquino has been pursuing. Also, it shows once again that he is no different from the anti-people president he has replaced. Aquino is only continuing Arroyo’s agenda of making SUCs more “self-sufficient” and “less dependent” on the national subsidy as stipulated in policies like the Long-term Higher Education Development Plan and Higher Education Modernization Act. Evidently, these are only their guises for their actual abandoning of their duty to provide quality and affordable education to their constituents. Again we ask, is this how Aquino perceives the “tuwid na daan? If this is so, then we’d rather not join him in his crusade for short-sighted reformism,” Tracy Anne Dumalo, chairman of Anakbayan Cordillera said in an interview.

‘Socialized’ tuition fee

Aside from the increase in tuition fee, another proposal by the CARASUC in their meeting is the Unified Socialized Tuition Fee for CAR SUCs. As stated in the minutes of the meeting, this proposal, “is in line with the principle of social justice and narrowing the economic gap between marginalized individuals and well-to-do individuals in the whole Cordillera region, and nearby regions.” This proposal claims to base the tuition to be paid by a student on his/her family’s economic and social status. Every enrolling student of any CAR SUC shall be required to submit a copy of their parents’ Income Tax Return (ITR), list of acquired property or fixed assets and a certification from the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

For students whose parents’ annual income is P100,000 and above (Class A), they will need to pay 30 percent more than the standard tuition. For students whose parents’ annual income is P50,000 to P100,000 (Class B), 25 percent more than the set tuition; and for students whose parents earn below P50,000 annually (Class C), they shall pay the base amount of tuition. Ffor instance, when the base tuition rate per unit is set at P100/unit next school year, Class A students would have to pay P130/unit, Class B, P125/unit and Class C, P100/unit. These rates are to escalate as the base tuition per unit also increases 20 percent every year thereafter.

Patterned after UP

The so-called ‘socialized’ tuition rate started with the University of the Philippines (UP) system in 1989. In 2007, UP imposed 300 percent tuition increase and implemented the re-bracketing of the Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP). From the original nine brackets, it was reduced to five in 2007.

“To begin with, this measure is not called-for as it only serves as a band-aid solution hiding the actual, more important problem to be addressed: higher tuition rates imposed on students. While it purports to foster “social justice” by asking for a tuition rate based on one’s capacity to pay, the process by which this “justice” can be obtained is already tedious, and not to say, requiring numerous expenses (i.e. for photocopying certain documents) which some families cannot afford. Moreover, as in the case of UP, the existence of a measure like this cannot be guaranteed to work in the favor of the underprivileged students since they can be overlooked due to technicalities in the process. For instance, there is a deadline for submitting the necessary documents for the tuition discount which usually work against the students especially to those who do not have the money to reproduce the required documents easily. Also, there is question in the integrity of the bracketing since there are a lot of reports stating that some students from more well-off families are able to acquire a lower bracket and hence, pay a lower tuition,” Cielo Marie Bayson of National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) Baguio-Benguet said.

“Even with disregarding these glitches, we must return to the more vital point undermining the merits of a socialized tuition scheme – this scheme shall not be devised at the first place if tuition rates are kept at a low level and farther, if only the national government allots more budget for education and prevent the need for school administrators to look for other means to generate funds for its operations,” she said.

Higher state subsidy

Different youth organizations in the Cordillera like Kabataan Partylist, Anakbayan, College Editors Guild of the Philippines and NUSP conducted a Cordillera Youth Leaders Assembly last February 11 and 12 and came up with a unity declaration addressed to the President of the Philippines, the Senate and the Congress condemning the budget cuts and calling for the rechanneling of funds allocated for debt servicing and military expenditures to the budget for education, health and other social services.

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