IT’s Good and bad news for UST students as they brace for a “slightly lower” tuition increase next school year: four per cent against last year’s five.

According to Vice-Rector for Finance Fr. Melchor Saria, O.P., the University needs to increase tuition due to rising inflation, which affects the faculty and the non-academic employees.

“We cannot (subsidize the costs) from the operations alone,” Fr. Saria said. “If we do not increase (the tuition), we won’t have anything to (pay) our (employees), and they might become restive.”

According to the National Statistics Office, the inflation rate rose from 8.4 per cent in January 2005 to 8.5 per cent last February.

But Fr. Saria said UST has “streamlined” the number of employees to cut costs.

“In terms of the non-academic employees, we have reduced their number. We’re trying to control the number of the workforce because the labor cost is high,” Fr. Saria said.

The personnel department reports that the University has about 550 non-academic employees compared to about 600 since 1997, and about 750 faculty members as of January this year.

Fr. Saria also said scholars will not be compromised by the tuition increase, but added that the University might not be able to accommodate more.

Despite the increase, the University hopes to accept about 7,000 freshmen next school year, roughly 200 less than this year’s total of greenhorns.

“UST’s vision is to make education affordable, but there are economic implications involved,” Fr. Saria said. “You have to maintain a competitive edge and provide the needs of the employees—realities that entail a lot of costs.”

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According to Fr. Saria, UST is “at par” with other schools but its tuition is almost half of what De La Salle University and Ateneo de Manila University charges.

Fr. Saria also clarified that the tuition increase is not caused by the UST Hospital’s (USTH) financial problems, which was reported in the Varsitarian last year.

“USTH has a separate financial system. Even if it goes in the red, the University will not be affected,” Fr. Saria said. Reagan D. Tan

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