Tuition fee rates for the upcoming academic year (AY) 2017-2018 may see a potential five percent increase for incoming ID 117 freshmen and a 4.5 percent increase for ID 116 and above upperclassmen following the recommendation from the Multi-Sectoral Consultative Committee on Tuition Fee (MSCCTF). The recommendation, however, will still have to be approved further by the DLSU Board of Trustees and Commission on Higher Education.
The MSCCTF conducted discussions on the tuition fee increase (TFI) proposal last November 9 and 25 of last year and in January 6 and 18 and February 10 of this year. Members of the administration, faculty, employees, parents, and student sectors were present during the said assemblies.
In the development of the proposal, members from each sector had the chance to share various concerns that needed improvement in their respective sectors. University Student Government (USG) Executive Treasurer Brian Chen states, “All sectors were given the freedom to craft their own proposals to be discussed in and by the committee.” Each sector, according to him, was able to share what they deemed as necessary for their constituents.
The MSCCTF’s final proposal consolidated all the recommended TFI proposals and rationales from the five key sectors of the University, namely, the administration (six percent), faculty (5.26 percent), employees (5.5 percent), students (two percent), and parents (4.5 percent for upperclassmen, five percent for incoming freshmen).
The multi-sectoral committee also took into account the results of numerous consulting initiatives enacted by the Office of the Executive Treasurer (OTREAS) through on-ground interviews, focus group discussions, online surveys, and social media campaigns. Through these actions, OTREAS was able to acquire responses from around 2,100 undergraduates and 200 graduate students.
On the TFI proposal
Being a non-profit and non-stock educational institution, the tuition fees gained from the students per term serve as the University’s main source of revenue. The tuition fee covers the amount needed to pay for the salaries of faculty and personnel (70 percent), capital expenditure (20 percent), and administrative use (10 percent). This fee excludes miscellaneous fees, which are added to the tuition fee, such as library fee, student services, and laboratory fees.
During the first Town Hall Meeting on tuition fee-related matters organized by the USG last March 16, Chen stressed that the recommended TFI intends to resolve several crucial issues on campus. These include the continued impact of the lean years on the University’s capacity to sustain its operations and faculty salary adjustments following the passing of the Salary Standardization Law. Further determinants for the need of an increase in tuition fee are the varying Philippine inflation rates and internal administrative needs, among others.
The lean years faced by the University has already generated an adverse effect on the school’s services. With the potential increase in tuition fees, it is projected that the number of incoming ID 117 students will be greatly affected. However, Chen expresses that DLSU may not be the only University to have a possible increase in tuition fee. There is also a possibility that other universities or colleges may ask for a higher TFI.
Furthermore, he shares how some universities made the decision to decline freshmen due to implications on costs. Other schools opted to offer less degree programs to reduce the cost that can be allocated as compared to offering all their programs. He adds, “I would also want to believe that incoming freshmen, and their parents, seek for quality tertiary education, and that is what DLSU can and has to offer.”
Through the USG OTREAS’ #ThisIsTransparency Recommended Tuition Fee Increase Information campaign, the approved minutes of discussions in the MSCCTF were also uploaded online. “This would be the first time ever that the approved minutes of the meetings of the MSCCTF will be released. Ito yung pinaglaban namin ni [USG President] Zed [Laqui] nang maigi kasi we wanted transparency this year,” explains Chen. This year also marks the first time that the OTREAS openly disclosed the MSCCTF’s recommended TFI to the Lasallian community.
In line with ensuring the TFI addresses the issues it is intended for, the MSCCTF also granted the USG the opportunity to involve the student body in creating a wish list of desired improvements and additions to the University. The initiative aims to push for the institution’s continued development as a “Student-Centered University”, particularly in the areas of services, campus facilities, student life, and academics.
“There seems to be a concern [among] students that there is a barrier between them and the administration and other sectors, [which] makes it hard for them to voice out their concerns. With this initiative, we want to lift that barrier and bridge a communication channel between the students, faculty, parents, employees, and administration of the University,” emphasizes USG Vice President for Internal Affairs Karl Ong.
Additionally, he explains that the collated insights from the students will be presented to the administration so that the concerned parties can agree on what commitments they can fulfill. The wish list will also serve as a metric for the University to track its progress and as a basis for future meetings of the MSCCTF.
The abovementioned campaign was officially launched by the USG on March 17, while booths were set up in various areas of the campus on March 28 and 29 to allow students to formally voice their opinions.