Education and inflation. Thomasians find themselves paying higher tuition this school year as UST tries its best to make ends meet amid the skyrocketing prices of other goods and services. Photo by L.A.C. BUENAVENTURATHOMASIANS are paying five percent more in tuition this school year, an increase that the UST administration says is reasonable given higher increases in the prices of other goods and services.

An administration official said a five-percent tuition increase in all courses was needed “to sustain quality education” in the University, which remains more affordable than in other private universities.

Students leaders agreed to the tuition hike following a consultation last February 23.

With the suspension of the Commission on Higher Education’s (Ched) Memorandum Orders (MO) No. 14 series of 2005, No. 42 series of 2006, and No. 7 series of 2007, which prohibit private colleges and universities from increasing tuition beyond the national inflation rate, UST, being a private university, has the autonomy to set its tuition at whatever rate it deems necessary.

But Marissa Gonzales, assistant chief accountant, said UST took into account the economic situation and would like to continue the University’s Catholic identity by being “just” in its fees.

The tuition increase was smaller than the inflation rate of 9.6 percent in May, although in 2007, the inflation rate was only at 2.8 percent.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas defines inflation as the rate of change in the weighted average prices of goods and services typically purchased by consumers. The weights of goods and services are based on the Family Income and Expenditure Survey periodically conducted by the National Statistics Office.

“The administrators decided to increase fees only by five percent relative to inflation because they know parents could no longer tolerate another price increase along with (that of) other basic commodities,” Gonzales said.

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The increase will go to the salaries and benefits of the faculty and employees, electricity, and the development of the University’s facilities.

“Seventy percent of the generated money from each student’s tuition goes to all the necessary sustenance of the University’s functions. Only 30 percent is allotted for operations and infrastructure,” Gonzales said.

Based on the latest financial report available, UST collected P1.93 billion from tuition and other fees in academic year 2006-2007, with an enrollment level of 35,388 students. After deducting expenses, the University earned a net income of P53.76 million.

The student population, however, has gone up to 37,000, compensating for the small tuition increase.

From a population of 35,388 students, total revenue in the year 2006-2007 was P1.93 billion with a net income of P53.76 million.

Prior to this year’s tuiti–on increase, the University invited all deans, outgoing and selected incoming Central Student Council (CSC) officers, local council presidents, academic and non-academic unions, faculty members, and heads of various administrative departments to a consultation in accordance with Ched rules, which require private colleges and universities to conduct a consultation before any tuition hike.

“Contrary to what others think, the University had a consultation before implementing an increase. It was done the previous academic year where the outgoing CSC members had the official say,” CSC president Angelo Cachero said.

Sliding effect

There was some confusion between student leaders and administrators in the rector’s committee on tuition and other fees because of the apparent 6.5-percent increase for third year students.

“It appears to be a 6.5-percent increase, but in reality it is still five percent. It only appears as such because of the sliding effect,” Gonzales said.

A pit of hell?

The so-called sliding effect comes about by comparing the new tuition rate per unit for third year students to the rate for third year students in the previous academic year. Compared to last year’s rate for second year students, the increase is only five percent.

“The basic premise is that a student should not compare his rate with students in the previous year because they have different rates, especially if an increase was implemented,” Gonzales added.

But for John Constantine Valeroso, former Faculty of Arts and Letters student council president, the consultation was a mere formality.

“A consultation should be an agreement between two parties and not a mere one-sided discourse,” Valeroso said. “I gave a suggestion to have a forum about fees a month before the actual consultation among students and parents in every college to clarify cases like this.”

Still lower

In all the faculties, colleges, and institutes of UST, the lecture fee per unit for first to third year students now costs P1,072.90, from the previous P1,021.80 rate for freshmen and sophomores and P1, 007.45 for junior students, because of the five-percent increase. Meanwhile, the seniors’ lecture fee per unit now costs P1,057.85, from P1,007.45 last year.

Laboratory subjects went up by an average P111.30 per unit in all levels. From P2,043.60 last year, the laboratory fee now costs P2,145.80 per unit for freshmen, sophomores, and juniors. Seniors now pay P2,115.70 per unit from P2,014.90 last year.

Other private colleges and universities, which cater to almost 70 percent of students in the tertiary level nationwide, raised fees by eight to 10 percent.

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Among private universities in the country, the Ateneo de Manila University has the most expensive tuition at P2,517.03 per unit, a Philippine Daily Inquirer report last May 26 said. The University of Asia and the Pacific placed second with a P2,400 per unit, followed by De La Salle University which charges P2,045.33 per unit. State-run University of the Philippines now charges P1,000 per unit because of a 300-percent hike, only P72 lower than UST’s rate.


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