De La Salle University’s Multi-sectoral Budget Committee

DLSU’s Multi-sectoral Budget Committee (MSBC) is a result of a clashing viewpoints. Brought to life by a student barricade on Oct. 10, 1984 led by then Student Council (SC) President Nani Braganza, DLSU students protested a tuition fee increase (TFI) of 25 percent. During that time, the University regularly increased tuition by 20 percent for incoming freshmen and a lesser 15 percent for undergraduate students.

Today, the main purpose of the MSBC is to facilitate discussions on tuition fee increases though generally, student and parent sectors in the University do not accept such high increases, even if faculty and staff representatives stand to benefit from the additional compensation and fringe benefits. Having multi-sectoral meetings to discuss budget matters is mandated by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

The DLSU MSBC commission is comprised of students represented by the University Student Government (USG), teaching staff from the Faculty Association (FA), non-teaching staff from the DLSU Employees’ Association (DLSU-EA), parents from DLSU-Parents of University Students Organization (DLSU-PUSO) and the central administration.

The MSBC, through a series of meetings, collaborates to reach a unified decision on tuition related matters, particularly the TFI.  In reaching a decision, the mentioned sectors compute and negotiate for an acceptable TFI after considering the concerns of each sector. The MSBC considers internal factors, such as the projected increase in operating expenses for the coming school year and external factors, the most important being the inflation rate.

According to CHED, 70 percent of the TFI should go to salaries. The University allocates the remaining 30 percent to infrastructural improvements and facilities. Tuition fees are used for operating expenses and are the primary basis for salary and compensation. Nonetheless, the University relies heavily on tuition fees for development.

Tuition fees are distinct from the University’s endowment funds. Endowment funds are long-term revenue-generating investments that serve as the backbone in financing scholarships and the University’s expansion projects.

USG President Cabe Aquino, as the student representative in the MSBC, shares that the student government initially proposed a 3.5 percent increase based on factors such as odd growth of expenses, excessive restricted funds and the implementation of RCU, which widens the admissions cap of enrollees, effectively increasing the University’s revenue. She also explains they will try to make it lower, with the negotiable threshold not exceeding four percent at the worst circumstance.

Participation of the student body is not neglected. Djon Nacario, USG treasurer clarifies that before the start of the meetings of the MSBC, they ask students if they have any concerns regarding their fees.

The faculty under the FA, have not released an official stance, even if they already suggested proposals. Unofficially, the FA’s proposed increase is 10.793 percent and it plans to stay on that percentage.

“What the FA values is that the tuition increase should consider the time value of money, which increases by an approximate 4 to 5 percent per year,” affirms FA president Dante Leoncini. He explains that TFI is often below inflation. This makes the faculty ‘subsidize’ student education and offers less of a competitive advantage in attracting the best faculty, as there is in effect no ‘growth’ in faculty salaries, but rather deterioration in the time value of money. Their stated TFI makes recovery feasible and sustains competitiveness because if salaries remain below inflation, excellent faculty will be tempted to leave for better paying institutions abroad.

For the central administration and the employees’ side, negotiations prompted an initial 4.5 percent increase to an 4.93 percent TFI. According to sources, the central administration and the EA worked backwards and examined the appropriate salary and then accounted for the necessary TFI. DLSU-PUSO and the parents of students have generally fixed it at 0% TFI.

This academic year, the first multi-sectoral meeting took place on mid-November of 2011; there are ongoing negotiations among the sectors. This month, the five sectors will meet again to arrive at a final decision.

Nina dela Cruz

By Nina dela Cruz

Juan Batalla

By Juan Batalla

Leave a Reply