8 February 2007
This month, students from different colleges and universities nationwide face another round of tuition and other fee increase (ToFI) proposals. Private schools have made a routine out of the annual increases in school fees as they mouth “inflationary adjustment” to justify their motive. Quite unfortunately too, CHED memo order 14, as amended, implicitly echoes the same argument of school owners.
But, as student leaders, we are borne with the responsibility to critically analyze the situation and campaign for the protection of our right to education against incessant school fee increases. We are tasked to confront the problem head-on through well-planned mass campaign, creative and sustained collective actions, and well-strategized dialogues and negotiations.
This academic year (2006-2007), we pressed for the scrapping of CHED Memo Order 14 as we criticized its bias towards school owners and administrations regarding tuition and other fee increases. Our main points of criticism to CMO 14 (not exhaustive) were:
1. It provided exemptions to consultations if the increase is within the declared national inflation rate and when the increase is applicable only to incoming freshmen;
2. It legitimized exorbitant fees and new fees to be collected by the school without proper guidelines on the nature of fees allowable to be collected;
3. It lessened student and multi-sectoral participation in the consultations and reiterated the long-criticized faulty consultation processes allowed by the CHED memo.
In addition to the first point of criticism, we found out that CMO 14 violated RA 6728 as the former contradicted the consultation requirement of the latter. To be more specific, the exemptions to consultations in CMO 14 violated Section 10 of RA 6728, which states that “In any proposed increase in the rate of tuition fee, there shall be appropriate consultations…”
Because of this, we called for the refund of the illegal tuition and other fee increases. Hence, we launched the Tuition Refund Campaign. Aside from this, we also encouraged student leaders from various schools to lodge their complaints at CHED and call for the same refund.
INITIAL STUDENT VICTORIES
In the local scene, students from NCR schools UST, UE Manila and
In the national scope, CHED issued an ante-dated memorandum that nullified ToFI above 7.6% (national inflation rate). CHED en banc Resolution 334-2006 dated
Last September 2006, CHED called for a meeting of the Technical Committee for the Amendment of CMO 14. NUSP is a member of that committee, and we asserted for urgent reforms in the memo. It is not until January this year that we found that CHED issued another antedated memo that amended CMO 14. CHED memo 42, s.2006, dated
1. Section 8 of CMO 14 was amended as follows:
“Section 8. Tuition and Other Fees. The allowable increase in tuition and other fees in all levels should not be more than the prevailing national inflation rate.
Any increases in tuition and other fees in all levels to be made by private Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) shall be subject to consultation with stakeholders, in accordance with the processes set forth in this Order, and approval of the Commission on Higher Education through the CHED Regional Offices.” (CMO 42 s.2006 section 1)
2. Section 10 of CMO 14 was deleted. (CMO 42 s.2006 section 2) Remember that sec10 of CMO 14 is the provision that provided for the exemptions to consultations.
TASKS AND PROSPECTS
The amendment of CMO 14 further validated the correctness of our call to refund the illegal tuition and other fee increases, and in essence, proved the rightness of our criticisms against CMO 14. As such, we must learn to utilize these victories and developments to further the cause of the studentry and restrain the round of ToFI for the next school year.
Primarily, we have to campaign to “STOP ToFI!” or to stop tuition and other fee increases in schools. Student leaders must take the step forward to arouse, organize, and mobilize the students to stop ToFI in their schools. This will be done through mass campaign and collective action.
Secondarily, we have to continue to campaign for the full REFUND of illegal ToFI in the present academic year. This secondary call should be made complementary to the primary by using the argument that schools must not venture to another round of ToFI because their previous ToFI is still on question because of the illegality of the process it underwent. (non-consultation with sectors involved; also because of the exemptions provided by CMO 14 before it was amended.)
Translating that to the national level, we must assert to the Commission on Higher Education that they should finally issue a memorandum ordering the refund of the fee increases in AY 2006-2007 in the schools nationwide. Also, further progressive amendments to CMO 14 must be pushed.
Local (in schools) and national campaigns must complement each other.
GUIDE IN THE CAMPAIGN AGAINST TOFI THIS YEAR
Because of CMO 42, which amended CMO 14, we expect consultation notices to be posted in conspicuous places around campuses as early as January. (Some had their consultations at the last quarter of 2006.) Strictly speaking, according to CMO 14, consultations must be “conducted not later than February 28 prior to the Academic Year the intended increase shall take effect.” Therefore, we have every right to question if the consultation of a school shall be conducted after February 28.
Particularly, here are some pointers for student leaders on what we should do in case the school proposes tuition and other fee increases:
Ø Build on the principle that education is a right. It is not acceptable, fair, and just for schools to increase their fees at a situation when the Filipino youth has already been eased out of education because of its inaccessibility.
Ø Conduct extensive research on the fee increase proposal (How much? For what purpose? Is it acceptable?), current school fees collected, and the financial stature of the school. Demand for the pertinent documents. It is your right. (RA 6728 and even CMO 14)
Ø Inform the students about the issue. Conduct forums and symposia regarding the subject matter.
Ø Organize tactical and issue-based alliances with fellow students, parents, faculty, and non-academic personnel against the new round of fee increase.
Ø Student councils/members in the consultation panel must ally and prepare negotiation tactics with the other like-minded members of the panel (i.e., faculty association, alumni association, employees union)
Ø Mobilize students on the call. Conduct creative and sustained collective actions like manifesto signing, colored-shirt wearing, streamer hanging, pin-wearing, mass actions, and the like.
Attachments and immediate references:
CHED Memo Order 14, s. 2005.
CHED Memo Order 42, s. 2006.
NUSP Campaign Memo, November 2006.
Students’ Critique to CMO 14, prepared by NUSP, May 2006.
Restrictive school fees reduce access to college education, NUSP, June 2006.