Behind tuition increases

Edmar Borromeo-2

Brace yourselves — a tuition increase is underway for AY 2014-15, but final decisions are still being deliberated by the Multisectoral Committee on Student Fees (MSCSF).

As a channel for University stakeholders, the MSCSF formally convenes to review tuition fee increase proposals and reconcile concerns between different sectors of the University. After which, the decision is announced by the administration.

The MSCSF is composed of representatives from the University Student Government (USG), the Parents of University Students Organization (PUSO), the Employee Association (EA), the Faculty Association (FA) and the DLSU administration.

This potential hike adds to tuition increases in the past five years —notably last year’s 4 to 5 percent increase for tuition, and 3 percent for miscellaneous fees. In addition to 3.5 percent for AY 2012-13; 3.5 percent for AY 2011-12; 3 percent for all fees for AY 2010-11; and 5 percent for AY 2009-10.

For an average student with 18 units, current tuition reaches Php 43 ,000 – 45,000. On top of these are miscellaneous fees, which amount to around Php 5,891. If a student’s course requires additional laboratories and special fees, the trimestral outlay may reach Php 55,000 – Php 60,000+.

A major factor that arguably necessitates this tuition increase is ongoing heavy development in the DLSU Science and Technology Complex (DLSU STC), the impact of K+12, as well as rising inflation rates.


Infographic by Denver Banlasan

Slow and steady

Tuition hikes are not the bane of DLSU alone; other private universities are experiencing around the same tuition hikes every academic year, along with the rest of the Philippines.

Ateneo de Manila University’s annual hike was at 5 percent from a base tuition and fees of approximately Php 75,000. On the other hand, University of Santo Tomas (UST) usually sees a tuition increase of 3.5 to 4 percent in the past few years, according to UST student publication The Varsitarian. UST merely saw a 2.5 percent increase in AY 2013-14, though saw 100+ percent increases in miscellaneous fees. However, UST’s tuition rose by as much as 6 percent (8 percent for sophomores) in 2009. The average tuition and fees of students ranges from approximately Php 40,000 to Php 50,000.

In comparison, the average national tuition increase for colleges and universities in AY 2013 -14 was 8 percent, according to CHED.

In DLSU, tuition increases happen separately from miscellaneous fees, i.e. restricted funds that go to office-specific facilities and services. Tuition may increase while miscellaneous fees do not, and vice versa.

As mandated by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), employee and faculty salaries depend on 70 percent of the tuition, while the remaining percentage goes to operation, maintenance costs and investment returns.


A spectrum of stances

This academic year’s tuition is a result of the decision to push a 5 percent tuition increase for freshmen, 4 percent increase for upperclassmen and a 3 percent increase in miscellaneous fees.

Like this year, factors that primarily influenced the outcome is the Science and Technology Complex’s integration, where several construction projects and renovations are scheduled in the next few years.

In addition, the current student population and student intake forecast plays a contributing factor. The previous year’s increase would gradually compensate for the decreased freshman intake after K+12, explains former USG Executive Treasurer Carlo Inocencio.

According to incumbent USG Executive Treasurer Kayne Litonjua, the USG stands for a 3 percent increase by considering several factors. The USG’s calculations include the USG’s scholarship grants, student loans and assistance funds. In the past years, Litonjua explains that the USG’s average tuition bid increased to 3 percent, from a lower figure.

Granted these factors, he expounds, “The tuition fee increase came from our realistic measures. That was from Djon Nacario [treasurer preceding Inocencio]. He didn’t push for, compared to the other treasurers before; they proposed a 1 percent increase, 2 percent increase, negative increase… [he] pushed for a realistic increase which is around 3 to 4 [percent].”

According to Litonjua and Inocencio, a realistic tuition increase takes into account factors like DLSU’s projects, national shifts in the economy and the country’s inflation rate.


The cost of inflation

On the other side of the spectrum, the FA initially pushes for higher tuition increases, sometimes reaching up to 11 percent in the past years. Usually, their proposals range between 7 to 9 percent.

FA President Dante Leoncini explains that the FA wants salary compensation to catch up with inflation. Given that wages do not align with tuition increases, he furthers, “The result of the losses when the wage increase was less than the inflation rate… These would be accumulated,” he says. “We’re also saying that they should take that into consideration.”

According to Employee Association (EA) head Hever Barrina, the EA sides with the proposal of the FA, as they would reap the same benefits and compensation from higher salaries.

Even then, the inflation rate alone does not determine the increase percentage. Explains Litonjua, “There’s also a factor on how the University or the admin spends, and where do they allocate our money. There’s a question on allocation all the time.”

The University administration straddles as the middle ground between the two opposing spectrums (around 5 percent). In the past year, primary concerns have been the funding of campus development plans and K+12.


Efficiency concerns

Given that salaries are sourced from 70 percent of tuition, reconciling campus development initiatives, such as the one in STC, and the need to accommodate the employee and faculty population clashes with stakeholders who insist in a 0 percent to negative increase, such as PUSO.

PUSO President Iluminado Montemayor emphasizes that these tuition increases can strain the monetary resources of many parents, who often do not receive salary increases to compensate for the losses from increasing academic expenditures.

He clarifies that PUSO is not against competitive salaries and faculty quality. In addition to the University’s upcoming projects and expansion efforts, Montemayor and former directors of PUSO believe that operational expenditures should be more efficient: the core is efficiency, alongside true classroom utilization, utility conservation and budgeting initiatives.

With regards to campus expansion costs, Montemayor clarifies PUSO’s stance. “The profit of the University should not stem from the parents and students,” he says. “Developmental projects should be funded through loans and be properly amortized so that there is proper matching of revenues and expenses.”



These factors and more will be discussed when MSCSF deliberations resume on January 24.

From the meeting last January 10, predictions range between a 3 to 5 percent increase in tuition, according to preliminary interviews from several sectors.

Michelle Sta Romana

By Michelle Sta Romana

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