Why do youth and student groups demand tuition refund?

In brief, the Commission on Higher Education implemented a new tuition regulation policy (CHED Memo Order 14, series of 2005) which allowed schools to increase tuition without consulting students, parents, faculty and other stakeholders of education if the increase is below the prevailing inflation rate.

According to the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education, in its meeting on 5 June 2006, the CHED Memo Order 14 is illegal since it violated Republic Act 6728 which states that, “In any proposed increase in the rate of tuition fee, there shall be appropriate consultations conducted by the school administration with the duly organized parents and teachers associations and faculty associations with respect to secondary schools, and with student governments or councils, alumni and faculty associations with respect to colleges.” (Section 10)

Because the Commission on Higher Education erred by issuing an illegal tuition guidelines procedure (which private schools followed for their tuition and other fee increases this academic year), students demanded for the full refund of tuition and other fee increases this school year as a rightful remedy.

What is CHED Memo Order 14?

CHED Memo Order 14 (CMO 14), entitled “Guidelines and Procedures to be observed by Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) intending to increase Tuition and Other School Fees and introduce New Fees” is the Commission on Higher Education’s (CHED) response to the growing resistance of Filipinos over increasing tuition and other fees, which render access to education more difficult during these times of economic hardship and crisis. It has the following features, according to CHED (non exhaustive):

> it covers not only tuition but “other school fee” increases including “new fees”;

> allowable increase in both tuition and other fees less than or equivalent to the prevailing year’s inflation rates, shall not be subjected to consultations; increase of tuition and other fees over the prevailing year’s average inflation rate shall require a consultation process with the concerned sectoral representatives;

CMO 14 is the revised guidelines of the previous CHED Memo Order 13 series of 1998 underlining the procedures for schools intending to increase tuition. However, CMO 13 proved to be ineffective in tuition increase as private schools evaded the memorandum through institution of new fees and circumvention of the consultation process.

The National Union of Students of the Philippines, along with other youth and student organizations and student councils, organized protest actions and pressed upon reforms in the regulation of school fees. Hence, on 9 May 2005, CHED adopted CMO 14. However, the struggle for accessible education in the country remains as the new memo order, in fact, aggravated the school fee increases and leaves much to be desired by the Filipino people.

What are the contentions of the students with regard to CMO 14?

Foremost of these, CMO 14 explicitly provided exemptions for consultations in Article 3, Sec 10, and they are as follows:

“Consultations shall not be required for the following:

> The rate of increases in tuition and other school fees is less than or equal to the rate of the prevailing year’s national inflation rate as determined by the National Economic Development Program.

> Tuition for incoming freshmen. However, any increase shall be based on prevailing national inflation rate.”

CHED employed a false sense of logic for using the prevailing inflation rate as an index to the rate of tuition and other fees. By allowing increases without student consultations, the CHED institutionalized annual increases in tuition, other fees and new fees as students are stricken off their role to confront these increases through student consultations. There must always be student consultations regardless of how small or big the rate of increases will be.

CHED, itself, stripped itself off its regulatory function (and responsibility) in CMO 14 because of the consultation exemption based on the National Inflation Rate. CHED Regional Offices (CHEDRO) would only need to check the documentary requirements (article 5, sec 13, except letter b) of schools proposing within the NIR. Hence, the schools shall only wait for ministerial confirmation of their fee proposals.

The basic point is that, at these times of increasing prices of consumer goods and utilities, an increase in school fees, even though within the inflation rate, is already an injustice to students and parents alike. Access to quality education, thus, becomes narrower to the Filipino people.

Secondly, CMO 14 did not regulate the kinds of “other fees” that may be collected by schools. In fact, it even legitimized those anomalous fees’ existence:

“Charges in addition to tuition that are collected for a specific purpose or service, as may be identified by the school authorities such as medical and dental, athletic, audio-visual, guidance, insurance, laboratory fee, laboratory deposit, library, student organization, internet, school publication, energy, developmental, related learning experience, study tours, miscellaneous, etc.” (Article 2, Section 6)

Thirdly, the consultation process stipulated in CMO 14 remains to be a “sermon at the mount” because a) the number of student participants were reduced to “at most three representatives”, and b) students’ ideas and dissension to fee increase proposals are not necessarily incorporated as they are only “noted” and needs only to be reflected in the minutes of the meeting.

Take note that consultations in CMO 14 are only required for those fee increases above the inflation rate.

How did the Congress Committee on Higher and Technical Education (CHTE) came up with the pronouncement of the illegality of CMO 14?

The National Union of Students of the Philippines, along with fellow national youth and student organizations College Editors Guild of the Philippines, Anakbayan, League of Filipino Students, Student Christian Movement, and Kabataan Party, continuously informed the studentry and the public about the faults of CMO 14. These organizations launched a campaign against CMO 14 and lobbied it at Congress.

At the June 5, 2006 meeting of the CHTE, students revealed to the committee that CMO 14 provided exemptions to fee consultations. With this revelation, the committee members responded that this should not be the case because the CHED should follow its mandate to regulate tuition. Cong. Abayon expounded on this:

“Rep. Harlin Abayon (1st District, Northern Samar), chairman of the Committee on Higher and Technical Education said CHED was not only negligent in its mandate to regulate tuition increase but it also violated Section 10 of RA 6728.

Abayon said a feature in CHED Memo Order 14 (CMO 14) allows increase in both tuition and other fees less than or equivalent to the prevailing year's inflation rates without consultation.

Abayon cited Section 10 of RA 6728 that states ‘In any proposed increase in the rate of tuition fee, there shall be appropriate consultations conducted by the school administration with the duly organized parents and teachers associations and faculty associations with respect to secondary schools, and with student governments or councils, alumni and faculty associations with respect to college.’

’This memo does not only violate RA 6728 but in fact amended the provision on consultation,’ Abayon said.” (
12 June 2006, Congress Public Relations and Information Department,

Because of this pronouncement, the Tuition Refund Campaign was launched as early as June and July in the first semester of academic year 2006-2007.

What were the activities of the Tuition Refund Campaign?

The convening student organizations of the tuition refund campaign launched a Student Manifesto of Unity and quickly conducted information campaign to students nationwide. A blog site ( was also launched to be the carrier of all pertinent documents and updates of the campaign.

Likewise, protests were launched at the CHED’s offices to push it to adhere to the pronouncement of Congress that CMO 14 is illegal, and that a full refund of tuition and other fee increase should ensue. Student leaders from various schools also lodged their complaints to the CHED regional offices against several schools to add up to the pressure for refund, in general and a resolution to the complaints, in particular. Notable campaigns were launched in UE Manila and Caloocan, UST, DLS-AU, and the private schools in Davao City.

How did the CHED react to the call of Tuition Refund?

CHED did not answer squarely the call of the students for full refund of the fee increases. The Commission insinuated on July 2006 that they adopted a resolution en banc prohibiting tuition increase above 7.6 percent, or the declared national inflation rate for 2006. The said resolution is thus stated:


RESOLVE AS IT IS HEREBY RESOVED, that the Commission agreed that no private higher education institutions shall be allowed to increase tuition, miscellaneous, and other fees beyond the National Inflation Rate of 7.6% for School Year 2006-2007. (8 May 2006)

Take note that the resolution was dated 8 May 2006. However, CHED did implement this resolution in July 2006 only because of the clamor of the students for a full refund of fee increase. This action is, in fact, admittance on the part of CHED that it did erred in coming up with CMO 14. Aside from that, CHED also created a Technical Committee for the Review of CMO 14 in September 2006.

Because of the CHED resolution, around 140 schools nationwide has to refund their tuition and other fee increases until it reaches the limit of 7.6%. Students recognize this achievement as a small victory in the campaign. However, the campaign still remains to push for the full refund of tuition and other fee increases even in schools which have only increased fees by 7.6% because the fact still remains that they violated a law that necessitates consultations in any amount of increase.

How many schools should refund their tuition fees to students?

This school year, out of 1,428 private higher education institutions (PHEIs), 27.31 percent or 395 schools have increased their tuition. Of that total number of schools increasing tuition, 194 are increases above the inflation rate while 201 are below or equal to the inflation. This data was given by CHED in June 2, 2006. Hence, the number of schools that have increased their fees must have increased since that date.

Based on this number, there should be no less than 395 schools which must fully refund their fee increases to the students. According to CHED, in their adjusted number of schools that increased above 7.6%, there should be around 140 schools that will have to partially refund their fees to students in adherence to the CHED en banc resolution.

More or less, two million students nationwide would benefit in the refund of fee increases.

Is tuition refund possible when classes have already started in the second semester?

A quick answer: yes. Supposedly, schools should have refunded in the first semester. Some schools, for example, UE, DLS-AU, University of Batangas, have partially refunded their tuition collected in their adherence to CHED’s en banc resolution in the first semester. So, it is but proper for the other schools which have not done their refund in the first semester to conduct the refund now. And since it is already the second semester, the schools must roll back their tuition to reflect the refunded percentage in the first semester.

Student leaders take note: we have to reiterate that while it is proper for the schools to partially refund in accordance with the May 8 CHED resolution, schools must refund the fee increases in full because they violated the law for their non-consultation.

How can the schools refund the tuition and other fee increases?

Firstly, schools must organize a refund monitoring committee (multi-sectorally composed) to ensure the proper implementation of the refund. In most cases, student leaders have to assert for the creation of this committee. Take note that the refund also covers miscellaneous and other fee increases.

Secondly, schools can either give the refund in cash or it may be deducted to a student’s fee balance if he/she pays on installment. In both cases, the percent of refund should be reflected so that the students will know what they are getting.

Lastly, schools must practice transparency and accountability in the process of refund. Information must be disseminated to all students about the process to ensure that everyone will receive their just amount of refund.

How can schools be pushed to implement a tuition refund?

CHED must issue another memorandum requiring schools which implemented a tuition increase for the current schoolyear to refund the students. Public pressure on CHED to order a refund must continue. Students should file petition letters and complaints addressed to the leadership of CHED. Lawmakers can ask CHED to implement a tuition refund.

The key is for the continuance of the campaign to refund the illegal tuition and other fee increases. Students have gained some victories in the months that passed. The struggle continues for a true tuition regulation policy that will protect the rights of each citizen for quality education. ###


Anonymous said...

How if the university increas already the tuition last March 2008?,the university increase again this coming school year?maari b kami pumayag ?Pta officer

cagayan de oro schools said...

I think the universities must pay a closer attention to this. because they just cant increase if they want to. nice post!

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