MANILA, Philippines – President Arroyo yesterday appealed to private colleges and universities to defer any increase in tuition and other school fees due to the economic difficulties.
Deputy Presidential Spokesman Anthony Golez said the appeal was made following reports that private schools are set to increase their fees for the coming school year in June despite a request from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to postpone the tuition hikes.
“The President feels for the families, especially the students. What’s in her heart is for the benefit of Filipinos, particularly the students,” Golez said.
Golez said he spoke with CHED chairman Emmanuel Angeles III and the official expressed optimism that the schools will heed Mrs. Arroyo’s appeal.
“He (Angeles) told me that more often than not, such appeals would be respected by the universities,” Golez said.
Reports said some 258 private and public universities and colleges are planning to raise their fees in June because of the economic crisis.
CHED officials, however, said the schools would have to justify their planned tuition adjustments.
Angeles said that he has so far made the appeal to colleges and universities in 14 of the 17 regions during his public consultations for school curriculum reforms.
“We’re counting on their sense of service. There’s an economic crisis. It’s worldwide. We’re also affected,” Angeles said.
Angeles said that CHED, however, would not compel any school to follow the tuition fee hike moratorium they were asking for.
“We’re a democratic country,” Angeles said.
Lawyer Julito “Lito” Vitriolo, CHED acting executive director, admitted that the number of schools planning to hike tuition could increase since the deadline for schools to file their petition for tuition increase is on Feb. 28.
Vitriolo said that they were not ruling out a withdrawal of the petitions in view of Angeles’s appeal.
He said that with the chairman’s appeal, the schools might have a change of heart by the time enrollment season comes in April and May.
The National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) lambasted CHED for what it said was the agency’s weak stand against tuition hikes.
The NUSP said that CHED’s Memorandum No. 13 currently in effect was useless in ensuring that students and parents are duly consulted regarding proposed miscellaneous fee increases.
Einstein Recedes, NUSP executive vice president, said that the CHED order only compelled schools to hold consultations with students and parents on plans to raise tuition but does not stop the schools from adjusting fees. – Paolo Romeo With Rainier Allan Ronda, Philippine Star