THERE’S no stopping UST from imposing a hefty P1,000 fine for late enrollees, an amount a Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) official described as “too high.”

CHEd executive director Julito Vitriolo admitted that the commission could not keep universities such as UST from imposing such a penalty, in the absence of a formal memorandum regulating the collection of additional fees.

“We advise them (schools) to waive the penalty in meritorious cases because it adds to the burden of the students,” Vitriolo told the Varsitarian.

Told that UST charges P1,000 for late enrollment, he said in Filipino: “It seems too high. P500 would probably be enough.”

UST assistant treasurer Leonardo Syjuco said the school would comply in the event that a memorandum is issued by the commission. But he warned that removing the fine could prompt UST not to accommodate latecomers.

“We would probably not accept late enrollees anymore—that would be a heavier penalty,” he said in Filipino. “The problem is that some students do not enroll until the finals.”

The penalty took effect starting June 14 or eight days after the opening of classes. Syjuco said the amount to be collected would go to scholarship grants.

One parent said the school administration should also consider that late enrollment happened because students were still raising money.

“Why should there be a late enrollment penalty? To penalize the people for being poor?” said lawyer Encebrin Inanuran, mother of a second-year student at the Conservatory of Music.

Vitriolo acknowledged that imposing a penalty for late enrollment was up to a university as a matter of “institutional policy.” He said it was “within the discretion of the school in order to discourage late enrollees.”

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He said the Ched might issue a memorandum against unwarranted school fees after holding consultations.

“We will study the matter. If there is a strong justification, then we might issue a memo, [that prohibits] excessive or exorbitant late enrollment fees,” he said.

Said Syjuco: “If there would be a memo, then we have to abide by it. [But] unless there is a memo, we are not governed by [any] statement.”

He said the fine was not intended to raise additional income for UST, but “to discipline students” into enrolling within the prescribed period.

He said the number of late enrollees had significantly decreased since the policy was implemented three years ago. He gave no figures.

“I think there is also a problem with the students,” he said. “Filipinos love to do things at the last minute.”

Syjuco sought to further justify the fine, saying UST also incurred additional costs in paying for the salaries of contractual employees, who were tasked to process late enrollment.

Assistant comptroller Marissa Gonzales said the University allowed students to enroll even with a partial payment.

“We allow them to pay partially,” she said. “That’s why we have promissory notes, so that, if ever they would not be able to pay their tuition, we can help them enroll.”

Syjuco said the school needed cash payments, considering that majority of the tuition went to the salary of faculty members. “We can’t give promissory notes [to] faculty members. We have to pay them in cash,” he said. Daphne J. Magturo

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