EDUCATION BLUES: A bULATLAT Special Report
CHEd Admits Issuing Flawed Memorandum
The Commission on
Higher Education admitted that private schools have been invoking its
Memorandum Order No. 14 to bypass the required consultations before
effecting increases in tuition and other fees. Because of this, it said
that it is open to amending the memorandum.
BY JHONG DELA CRUZ
(The CHEd is evading responsibility.)
This is what the
National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) believes as it
stressed that the Commission on Higher Education’s (CHEd) Memorandum Order
No. 14 is used as an excuse to bypass consultations before effecting
increases in tuition and other fees.
The CHEd admitted
that private schools have been invoking the said memorandum and that it is
open to amending the memorandum.
But NUSP said it is
too late for CHEd to recall the order because at least 196 or 13.73
percent of the 1,428 higher education institutions (HEIs) in the country
have been given the go signal to raise their tuition.
In a joint hearing,
the Committees on Higher and Technical Education, and Basic Education of
the House of Representatives berated the CHEd for its apparent refusal to
forward pertinent documents during yearly hearings on tuition increases.
As early as 2004,
committee member Rep. Teodoro Casiño of Bayan Muna (people first) asked
the commission to submit a 10-year report on tuition hikes since CHEd’s
inception in 1996 to aid the committee in determining the extent of
tuition increases. The committee also asked CHEd to furnish it with copies
of financial statements of HEIs.
The report has not
yet been submitted as of the committee hearing last May 31.
The committee, headed
by vice-chair Harlin Cast-Abayon (1st district Northern Samar),
said that it would issue a subpoena to the CHEd should it fail to submit
the needed documents by Wednesday.
Casiño said the CHEd
has not been taking the committee hearings seriously and that its
officials refuse to answer the queries of students. He said that if this
persists, it may be better to create another body that would best
safeguard the interests of concerned sectors.
Marco delos Reyes,
chair of NUSP, reiterated that Memorandum Order No. 14 has been bleeding
the students and their parents dry since its implementation in June last
The new memorandum
replaced Memorandum Order No. 13. The latter stipulates that all
application for increases should pass through consultations with sectors
concerned. Memorandum Order No. 14 allows tuition increases without prior
consultation if the adjustments are within the prevailing inflation rate,
now at 7.6 percent.
In 2004, delos Reyes
said that according to his group’s data, CHEd had approved fee adjustments
even beyond 12 percent. Last year’s average inflation rate, said de los
Reyes, was six percent. This year he said, 458 or 32 percent of the total
number of HEIs have applied for fee adjustments beyond the 7.6 percent
prevailing inflation rate.
The committee said
that CHEd has been “playing games” with the cap. It noted that during the
past three years it has been approving rate adjustments by schools up to
100 percent, even without proper consultation with stakeholders.
Of the total number
of HEIs in the country, 194 or 13.59 percent applied for tuition increases
beyond the set cap. The National Capital Region account for the biggest
number of schools, at 269, applying for tuition hikes beyond the inflation
Region I, comprised
by the Ilocos provinces, with 79 HEIs, recorded the highest percentage
increase at 20 percent amounting to an increase of P324.88 ($6.11 at an
exchange rate of $1=P53.17) per unit.
But the 269 schools
in NCR, which applied for increases, maintain the highest average hike at
P863.71 ($16.24) per unit or 13.44 percent.
This year’s average
tuition increase is at 12.82 percent translating to some P350.10 ($6.58)
This figure, noted
Gabriela Women’s Partylist Rep. Liza Maza does not yet include HEIs that
increased their miscellaneous fees instead of tuition, or both.
De los Reyes said
that the CHEd is ill-equipped in monitoring those that had increased their
tuition beyond the inflation rate. He said that the CHEd is only paying
“lip service” when it announced that it would impose sanctions on schools
violating the memorandum.
Maza said that
Memorandum No. 14 runs counter to Presidential Proclamation No. 232, which
requires consultations for all types of increases in school fees. This,
Maza said, is irregular since a mere memorandum cannot supersede a law.
Maza is seeking a review of the memorandum.
Romeo Isaac, CHEd
director on policy, planning, and research, said that amendments to
Memorandum No. 14, which will be a new issuance, could only take effect by
the following school year. He added that over 200 schools are about to
implement their respective adjustments.
Isaac said that the
commission is open to new rounds of talks regarding amendments to the
Casiño is pushing for
House Bill 4449 that seeks to create a Private School Fee Regulatory
Board. The Board will be tasked to regulate tuition and fees adjustments
The bill also
provides that HEIs will not to be allowed to exceed a 6 percent return on
investment. It also mandates that 70 percent of the approved increase will
be allocated to upgrading teachers’ salaries while 30 percent will be used
as additional capital outlay.
Delos Reyes said that
militant youth groups are supporting the bill. He said that the CHEd,
since its establishment, has consistently earned their ire “for having
been co-opted by big school owners.”
“We see the CHEd as a
vehicle of school owners for bleeding the students dry. Worse, students
don’t even get their money’s worth. The most affected are poor students
who strive hard to access quality education but eventually fail due to
sky-high fees of schools,” he said. Bulatlat
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