WHY THIS FACULTY REGENT DOES NOT SUPPORT
TUITION FEE INCREASES
Roland G. Simbulan
Professor and Faculty Regent
University of the Philippines System
Last March 30, 2006, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) in an en banc Resolution No. 208 directed all state colleges and universities in the country not to increase tuition and miscellaneous fees for Academic Year 2006-2007. The reason given in the CHED resolution and subsequent press release for disallowing tuition fee increases was “to make higher education more accessible to a greater number of Filipino college students” in the wake of the spiraling inflation brought about by the effects of the oil price hikes and the implementation of the 12% Expanded Value Tax. Because I believe that U.P. students and their parents are not immune from these spiraling costs/inflation given as the reason for the tuition moratorium by CHED and that they must not suffer the added calvary of tuition fee hikes, I vigorously opposed the proposed tuition and laboratory fee increase of the College of Medicine.
I have been made to understand that U.P. is not under CHED and is exempted from CHED directives especially in the case of accreditation, monitoring and evaluation of academic programs. U.P. is one of the largest beneficiaries of CHED graduate fellowships and scholarships. Do we apply CHED directives to the premier state university only when it suits us? CHED is organically linked with the University of the Philippines because whoever is the Chair of CHED sits as the presiding Chair of the U.P. Board of Regents.
In these times of national economic crisis that is further complicated by a continuing political standoff, parents and students should not be further burdened with another round of increases in tuition, laboratory and miscellaneous fees.
My position however, is not an absolute rejection of any tuition fee hikes in the future especially in our graduate programs where most students are already professionals who are earning income. Perhaps we should also revisit the Socialized Tuition Fee Program(STFP) of U.P. so that students from low income families are not made to pay more just because they use cell phones. My position is that if you are a U.P. student coming from a wealth family living in an exclusive enclave like Forbes, Dasmarinas, Ayala Alabang, to name a few, then you rightly deserve to pay adjusted tuition comparable to those paid by students at Ateneo and De La Salle University. But we should give our people, namely parents and students, a respite or relief from the spiraling cost of living that has hard hit most of the nation’s poor, including middle class families. But at the very root of these “revenue-generating initiatives” including the “privatization of services” even among government agenices providing basic social services like education and health, is the lesser priority given by the state to these basic social services while the budget for foreign debt service and the military and police establishments continue to increase.
Most Filipino families are already suffering the double whammy of successive oil, gas, LPG price increases and the inflationary impact of the expanded value added tax. Because of the wide gap between the minimum wage and the cost of living, many urban and rural families are suffering a disparity or income shortfall. 8 out of 10 families or some 83% of the country’s families are now classified as poor, based on the January 2006 national average daily cost of living for a family of six of P 654.96 and the 2003 Family Income and Expenditures Survey (FIES). The daily minimum wage in MetroManila is P325 (275 legislated wage plus P 50. emergency cost of living allowance). If the international poverty measurement counting those living under $ 2. a day as poor is used, then over 87% of the country’s families are poor. The impact is so economically traumatic that it is pushing most and more Filipinos and their children out in the streets homeless, begging and unemployed.
U.P. officials like to show statistics before Congress during budgetary hearings that most U.P. students still come from the nation’s poor and lower middle class. In the case of the U.P. College of Medicine, the income profile of their students show that 50% are said to belong to families whose gross incomes are below P 400,000. a year, according to U.P. Manila statistics provided to us.
May I also use this occasion to challenge the Iskolar ng Bayan and the alumni of the University of the Philippines to selflessly dedicate their lives and professions in the service of the nation so that this country and its people can liberate itself from the morass of mass poverty and social inequality. Once you graduate from this great University, you should prove that the Filipino people did not make a mistake in investing their hard-earned money in your education. Your teachers and professors too, with their measly salaries and allowances, have invested a lot for your U.P. education. As U.P. Diliman Chancellor Sergio Cao stated during the recent 2006 Commencement Exercises, “U.P. did not train you to be exported abroad.” We hope that when the time comes, you will join the ranks of the excellent liberators of this country, and not the ranks of its corrupt oppressors who are a disgrace to our University’s values and principles.
The battle against further tuition fee increases has begun and will continue, and I hope to have your support for the sake of the Iskolar ng Bayan. I dread the day when U.P. will become a school mainly for the children of rich families and will not anymore be accessible to the nation’s poor namely the peasants, workers, urban poor and our indigenous peoples.
April 28, 2006
The date posted here is due to our website rebuild, it does not reflect the original date this article was posted. This article was originally posted in Yonip in May 4th 2006