THE ADMINISTRATION has proposed a five-percent tuition increase for the coming academic year, alongside a hike in miscellaneous and other fees.

If approved, education in UST will be more expensive by P62.45 per unit, at P1,311.45 per unit, from last year’s P1,249 and 2011’s P1,207.

According to the proposed fee increases by the Office of the Vice Rector for Finance, the installment fee will balloon to P1,500, a 150-percent increase from the P600 installment fee implemented in the previous years.

Incoming freshmen will pay P800 for psychological and drug testing fee, a 144-percent hike from last year’s P328.

There will also be a 52-percent hike in the guidance fee to P600 from P395. The energy fee will rise to P2,000, four times higher than the present P500. There will be a 25-percent hike in learning materials used for examinations to P125 from P100; a 22 percent increase in the Student Activity Fee to P275 from P225; and a five-percent hike in the library fee, to P1,137 from P1,082.

Some fees for sophomores will also be adjusted to equal the fees already being paid by freshmen, such as a 100-percent increase in the cultural fee to P200 from P100; 20 percent for the athletic fee to P1,500 from P1,250; and 53 percent in the learning management system, to P110 from P65.

For seniors, there will be a 25-percent hike in the thesis advising fee to P1,000 from P800, and also in the thesis defense fee, to P1,500 from P1,200.

If applicable, there will also be five-percent increases in the fees for the National Service Training Program, Reserve Officers Training Corps, and Physical Education.

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Commercialized education

Some student leaders believe the increase is a manifestation of the commercialization of education in UST.

“Sa halip na ibigay sa mamamayan bilang isang batayang serbisyo ang edukasyon, itinuturing itong isang pribilehiyo at isang kalakal na ang maaari lamang magtamo ay ‘yung may kakayahang magbayad ng napakataas na halagang itinatakda nila,” said Majan Lazo, secretary general of the student rights group Alliance for Concerned Thomasians. “Tinitingnan ng mga administrador ng mga pamantasang ito ang mga estudyante bilang mga gatasan ng pera.”

In a “manifesto of unity” signed by various political parties and local student councils, the students said it would be “insensitive” for UST, a Catholic school, to implement another tuition increase amid the “worsening economic crisis.”

“The rising cost of education indicates the reason why more and more students continue to drop out of school, leaving them with no choice but to stop [schooling],” the manifesto read.

They described other school fees as “dubious, redundant, absurd and ambiguous of its allocation,” particularly the Special Development, Physical Infrastructure Development, Energy, and Information Development Fees.

The UST administration was also criticized for the proposed increase in the installment fee and for charging a P1,500 late enrollment penalty. Students claimed the University has been violating the Commission on Higher Education’s policy that requires schools planning to increase fees to post notices on bulletin boards 15 days before the consultation.

“Public consultations are not being held to avoid opposition from the student body,” the memorandum read.

The Varsitarian tried to reach the Office of the Vice Rector for Finance, but it has yet to respond. DAPHNE J. MAGTURO

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