This was the call made by the National Union of Students in the Philippines (NUSP) to the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) as the country’s largest consortium of private schools expressed willingness to hold tuition increase for the school year 2009-2010.
The NUSP made the appeal after lauding the decision of the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (Cocopea) to defer any tuition increase next school year in light of the global economic slowdown and mounting workers’ layoffs in the country.
The NUSP also acknowledged Cocopea’s pronouncement is “not a guarantee” that member schools will not raise their tuition.
The NUSP said it is open to discuss with Cocopea the recent situation in the country, adding they need to come up with a common unity that would prioritize the needs of students and their families struggling to make both ends meet in these times of economic hardship.
“While we continue to hope that school owners and administrators find the right answer during their serious contemplation of the implications of hiking tuition and other fees, we recognize that private schools in the country are essentially profit-oriented institutions operating in an essentially deregulated environment,” the NUSP said in a statement.
The NUSP also lamented the continuous failure of Ched to regulate tuition and other fee increases, citing last year’s lifting of a tuition cap which “never saw the light of day.”
“We are demanding that Ched intervene in the matter of tuition and other fee increases, especially since schools are currently in the process of holding consultations regarding their proposed tuition and other fee increases for the next school year,” the students group said.
It added the NUSP is calling for a moratorium, effective immediately, on all tuition and other fee increases.
“Ched should immediately implement a tuition and miscellaneous hike freeze, especially now that more students are grappling with the insurmountable cost of education,” it said.
The NUSP announced that the group had reactivated its Tuition Monitor program whose purpose is to consolidate students’ complaints regarding tuition and other fee increases in their respective schools. The Tuition Monitor hotline is 09328177804.
Earlier, The Cocopea Board had urged its member schools to hold any tuition increase for school year 2009 to 2010 in light of the global economic slowdown.
But the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines said the general agreement with Cocopea is to let schools decide individually on tuition increases.
Ched, for its part, said it would exhort “social responsibility” among private school owners. On the other hand, some privately owned universities expressed sympathy for the parents and are adopting a “wait-and-see” attitude on the issue. –Jason Faustino, Daily Tribune