HINDI KAMI TUTA: CHED exec decries ‘rubber stamp’ tag, says it’s private schools’ right to hike tuition

Citing an existing law issued more than 30 years ago that allows private schools to set their own tuition rate, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has dismissed anew an old criticism that it serves as a mere rubber stamp of higher educational institutions (HEIs) on increasing tuition and other school fees (TOSF).

When asked for his reaction on the allegation during a recent press briefing at the Palace, CHED Executive Director Julito Vitriolo said it is wrong to perceive the governing body as such; stressing as in his previous statements that unlike state universities and colleges, private-owned HEIs primarily depend on tuition as their lifeblood.

The CHED official pointed out as well that private schools are “regulated by a provision” in Batas Pambansa (BP) bilang 232, issued in 1982 under the term of Ferdinand E. Marcos, which “gives them the right to increase tuition.”

“The Congress hasn’t touched that provision (yet),” Vitriolo said.

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Section 42 of BP 232 or the “Education Act of 1982” states that private schools, whether primary, secondary or tertiary, can “determine its rate of tuition and other school fees or charges…subject to rules and regulations promulgated by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports (MECS).”

(MECS has since been segmented as CHED, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and Department of Education as part of the reform to “trifocalize” the country’s education system.)

Alongside DepEd, CHED is not new to getting flak from various youth-oriented groups and lawmakers alike over round after round of approving tuition hike applications over the years.

A youth group once described CHED as an institution catering “to the interests of profit-seeking capitalist-educators while betraying the youth’s right to education.”

Critics lament that average tuition in private HEIs has skyrocketed over the years. A militant youth group leader, for instance, had claimed that during the administration of former president Benigno Aquino III, the national average tuition rate ballooned from P30,000 to P50,000 in 2010 and from P60,000 to P100,000 in 2015.

In June, CHED approved the applications of 304 private universities and colleges to raise their TOSF for academic year 2016-2017, with average tuition hike pegged at P43.39 per unit while other school fees were allowed to increase by 5.41 percent or P115.58.