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CHEd chair Licuanan should resign

Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) chairperson Patricia Licuanan should resign from her post for failure to stop tuition and other fee hikes for the past years and in light of looming tuition hikes set again this year. CHEd under Licuanan has failed to fulfill its duty to regulate school fees and stop annual tuition hikes, causing an ever increasing number of drop-out rates among the youth.

It should be noted that Licuanan, in behalf of the Aquino government promised greater access to education and regulation on fees at the start of their term. After more than a year in office though, nothing has been done. The problems regarding skyrocketing tuition rates have worsened and the number of drop-outs have increased.

Tuition hikes are again expected this year, as the deadline for consultations for tuition hike proposals end on February 28. According to the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP), about 400 schools this year are proposing tuition increases ranging from 10 to 15 percent, not including other miscellaneous fees. According to data from CHEd, more than 80% of college students drop out due to rising tuition rates.

Not a few student leaders have filed complaints regarding unjust tuition increases and other fee impositions during the past years but CHEd approved these increase proposals anyway. Due to the increasing number of complaints, Congress held several hearings and agreed that government should address “unjust and absurd fees” which prompted a statement from Malacanang promising the public that CHEd will soon come up with new guidelines.

To the dismay of students, CHEd has not issued new guidelines in time for the consultation period. They presented various drafts, but said they intend to implement new guidelines not this coming school year but in 2013-2014. This is tantamount to tolerating abusive and questionable fee impositions. CHEd executives should be ashamed of themselves.

The government should be more sensitive to the plight of the poor families which, due to increasing tuition rates, are not able to send their children to school. Licuanan shoulde explain personally to the families which will not be able to enroll their children to school this year.

Directly or due to their gross neglect, CHEd has been in cahoots with capitalist-educators in raking record high profits while robbing the youth of their rights.

The financial records of the top 5 highest earning schools reflected net profit of P3.45 billion during the past 6 years, raking P15.43 billion in gross revenues. In 2010 alone, Far Eastern University (FEU) posted P585 million in profits, while University of the East posted about P300 million. FEU also registered an increase in profits in the past 9 months after it increased tuition rates last year.

Some of the schools set to increase tuition this year are University of Santo Tomas, which proposed a 3-6%  increase for most colleges and as much as 19% for freshmen; University of the East will likewise increase tuition by 3-6%; FEU by 4.8%; and De La Salle University by 5%.

ANAKBAYAN, NUSP and other youth and student groups said a moratorium on all tuition and other fee hikes should be imposed by the government this year and a thorough review of all tuition increases during the past years should be done.

The youth and people have had enough of government neglect regarding tuition hikes. Ultimately, government should make sure that every Filipino has access to free and quality education at all levels and should stop further commercialization and privatization of the educational system.

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