February 12, 2018
QUEZON CITY – A nationwide student union is calling to investigate the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) regarding the use of over eight billion pesos allotted to free tuition for calendar year 2017.
National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP), the broadest alliance of student councils in the country, expresses grave concern over the disbursement of the Higher Education Support Fund (HESF), which is supposed to cover the tuition of students enrolled in state universities and colleges (SUCs) for the first and second semesters of Academic Year 2017-2018.
“CHED should have already given each SUC its share of the free tuition funds. But up until now, CHED has not released any report as to how the funds have been disbursed,” said Raoul Manuel, NUSP Deputy Secretary General.
Based on Joint Memorandum Circular 2017-01 released by CHED and the Department of Budget and Management, CHED must post on its official website the amount of HESF funds disbursed to each SUC within one month after the end of each enrollment period. However, no official documents pertaining to this have been released by the Commission to date.
Impact on student fees
For the NUSP, the delay in the release of funds has adversely affected students enrolled in SUCs. “We have gathered numerous reports from students who were compelled to pay tuition fees despite the existence of the free tuition policy. More stringent requirements were imposed on students so that many would be exempted from the policy and be forced to pay tuition,” lamented Manuel.
“Others were not charged tuition but were compelled to pay higher miscellaneous fees in their schools. This is part of the measures taken by SUCs to secure their profits at the expense of the students,” said Manuel.
He added that some schools like the University of the Philippines (UP) introduced new fees this academic year “to ensure their profits while CHED has not yet given them their share of the funds. In UP, students must pay hundreds to thousands of pesos simply for the use of classrooms, conference rooms or outdoor venues.”
“Decades of implementation of government policies that commodity education, have pushed SUCs to become profit-oriented. Looking more deeply into the problem, it is not surprising that SUCs are doing this. Thanks to our commercialized educational system: it has become the instinct of schools to charge higher or new fees to keep their bank accounts filled to the brim.” ended Manuel.