Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, around 89 private higher education institutions (HEIs) nationwide have applied for tuition increase for this coming school year, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) said on Thursday, July 9.
CHED Chairman Prospero De Vera disclosed this during a joint virtual meeting of the House Committee on Basic Education and Culture and House Committee on Higher and Technical Education on Thursday.
He said they received a total of 393 applications, 89 of which sought tuition increase, while 304 HEIs withdrew their bid to impose tuition hike.
"I'd like to inform the committee that out of 393 applications, 304 or 77 percent withdrew their applications for tuition fee increase. The remaining 89 applications is about five percent of the total private higher education institutions in the whole country. It is a very, very small number of private higher education institutions that have submitted an application for tuition fee increase in our regional offices," De Vera told the House joint panel.
He noted that usually 25 percent of private HEIs apply for tuition hike.
"So the idea of a moratorium may not be needed given the fact that very few have actually applied for tuition fee increase," he said.
De Vera was asked by Pasig City lone district Rep. Roman Romulo, chairperson of the House Committee on Basic Education and Culture, to discuss the CHED's position on House Resolution No. 657, which is being tackled by the panel.
HR 657 urged the Department of Education (DepEd), CHED, and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to impose moratorium on tuition and other fee increases on all educational institutions in the wake of calamities.
The resolution was filed by Kabataan partylist Rep. Sarah Jane Elago in January this year to assist families affected by various calamities, including those affected by the January 12 eruption of Taal Volcano.
According to De Vera, the HEIs were given until July 1 to submit their applications.
"It is with our regional offices now. The Commission does not know what is the status of these applications because the evaluation of these is done in regional offices," the CHED official said.
He noted that 70 percent of any tuition application goes to the salary of faculty members.
"Some schools applied for tuition fee increase to make the salaries of their faculty competitive. This is not directly connected with flexible learning at all, it is a mechanism for schools to remain competitive because they are losing their faculty to state universities and colleges in significant numbers," De Vera explained.
"I don't know in practical terms how can we determine what are the areas where they can seek a tuition fee increase at this point because the costs vary from school to school and how they are adjusting. Will it be Congress who will tell it through a resolution or through legislation on what are the allowable areas for increase?, " he added.
Elago proposed that CHED, Department of Education (DepEd) , and Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA) should come up with a "clear advisory" on the determination of school fees.
"Magkaroon sana ng malinaw ng advisory from DepEd, CHED at COCOPEA kung ano lang ang puwedeng singilin at kung ano ang bawal para malinaw sa lahat," she said.
(There should be clear advisory from DepEd, CHED and COCOPEA on which fees can be collected and which are prohibited so that is clear to all.)