STUDENTS will have to shell out a little more money to study in UST next schoolyear.

The University will raise tuition for freshmen by seven per cent and tuition for old students by 5.5 per cent, after a tuition consultation with student leaders last March 1 at the Rector’s Hall. The rate is 1.5 points higher than last year’s four per cent.

According to Vice Rector for Finance Fr. Melchor Saria, O.P., the increase is intended to cushion the impact of projected expenses, chief of which are employee salaries and benefits, campus maintenance, and staff development projects, among others.

“We have to foresee the expenses we will be making in the future,” Saria said. “Raising the fees will also help the next batch of students come in”

To support the increase, Saria presented a comparison of tuition in other Universities to show that UST tuition is relatively low. According to him, Mass Communication costs P59,000 and P48,000 per semester in Ateneo De Manila and De La Salle University, respectively—almost double of what UST charges its students, which is P29,000, for the same course.

Meanwhile Nursing students of Centro Escolar University and Far Eastern University pay P34,316 and P27,500 per semester as compared to UST’s P29,859. This is a steal considering that the University’s nursing program is a Center of Excellence, as declared by the Commission on Higher Education (Ched), Saria said.

Saria explained that the administration tries to keep tuition increase at a minimum as a consideration for students and parents alike.

“We would not price ourselves (out of) the market and so that it won’t be a burden for the parents,” he said.

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Freshmen tuition will increase next year in all courses, including the postgraduate courses. Tuition for undergraduate courses will increase by P62.95 per unit, while rates of Medicine and Law will increase by P2,669.30 and P87.30 per unit, respectively.

The UST administration initially proposed a six-per-cent tuition increase for old students. But student leaders were able to haggle it for 5.5 per cent.

The administration predicts that the total estimated increase next school year is around P92,648,891.

The increase in revenue will be divided, with 70 per cent of the total increase going to employees’ salaries and benefits, and 30 per cent for improvement of facilities and and electricity and water utilities, as mandated by law.

Regulating tuition increase

The Commission on Higher Education (Ched) implemented Memorandum Order no. 14 in May 2005 to set guidelines and procedures for any plans of tuition increase of Higher Educational Units (HEI), after students and parents asked the commission to regulate tuition increases. The order pegged the allowable tuition increase to the prevailing inflation rate for purposes of consultation.

A consultation is required if there would be an increase in the existing tuition, miscellaneous, other school fees, and new fees that are higher than the prevailing inflation rate, as determined by the National Economic Development Administration. However, the tuition increase for freshmen does not need a consultation as long as it is based on the prevailing inflation rate.

Consultations must be done within campus premises. Moreover, HEIs are ordered to make the college’s latest audited financial statements available.

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While the administrators did not encounter any stiff resistance from student leaders regarding the tuition increase, they had to face a “stinking issue.”

Student representatives asked Saria to inspect the alleged lack of running water to flush and sanitize the toilet bowls in comfort rooms.

Saria cited as reason University sewage treatment plant’s inability to catch up with the needs of the buildings, resulting in the unpleasant situation involving the comfort rooms. However, he said that the Buildings and Ground office is already looking into a proposal to add chlorine to the recycled water to reduce odor. He said the upgrade will be included in the University budget next year, with the proposed UST gym facelift and the rehabilitation of some roads on the campus, among others. Miko L. Morelos

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