The approval from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) that paved the way for the hike should likewise be reversed, the petitioners, led by Kabataan party-list, said in a 46-page petition for certiorari, mandamus, and prohibition.
“The Commission on Higher Education violated the petitioners’ constitutional right to accessible and quality education for failing to perform its constitutional duties to take appropriate steps to make education accessible to all and to exercise reasonable supervision and regulation of all educational institutions,” the petition read.
The petitioners asked the SC to issue a writ of preliminary injunction and a temporary restraining order/status quo ante order to prevent the schools from implementing the tuition and other fees hike.
The group accused CHED of failing to exercise “reasonable regulation and supervision” when it approved the increase without “implementing the statutory procedure for tuition consultation” as prrovided under Section 10 of Republic Act 6728 or the Government Assistance To Students and Teachers In Private Education Act.
Section 10 states that “[i]n any proposed increase in the rate of tuition fee, there shall be appropriate consultations conducted by the school administration with the duly organized parents and teachers associations and faculty associations with respect to secondary schools, and with students governments or councils, alumni and faculty associations with respect to colleges… In case of disagreement, the alumni association of the school or any other impartial body of their choosing shall act as arbitrator.”
The petitioners said that particular portion of the law was crafted as a “statutory limitation” to Section 42 of the Education Act of 1982, “in order for the students not to be powerless in their opposition to tuition increases, despite a seeming grant to HEIs of the power to determine the rate of tuition and other fees.”
They also said that all non-tuition school fees by HEIs should also be deemed illegal and should be reversed for being imposed without CHED’s reasonable regulation and supervision.
In this light, the petitioners asked the high court to also declare as unconstitutional Section 42 of Batas Pambansa No. 232, which gives private schools the authority to determine the rate of tuition and other school fees.
“This is an unconstitutional position by the CHED and HEIs, as such position essentially removes the State’s constitutional power to regulate and supervision educational institutions,” the petition read.
The petitioners feared that the tuition hike would “prejudice severely” the students’ right to continue their course up until graduation, in violation of Section 9 of the Education Act of 1982.
“While it may be argued that HEIs have the right to determine the rate of tuition and other school fees, subject to rules and regulations by the CHED, it does not necessarily follow that such determination of the rate of tuition is immediately imposable upon the students,” they said.
The petitioners also claimed they did not violate the heirarchy of courts when they filed the petition immediately with the Supreme Court, stating Article VIII, Section 5, paragraph 2 (a) of the Constitution that states the high court can hear cases on “constitutional issues of transcendental importance to the public.”
In their petition, the petitioners also asked for a refund of previously colleted unlawful increases in tuition and other school fees.
CHED: Balance access with sustainability
But in an earlier statement, CHED had said it will ensure that HEIs meet the guidelines provided by law, especially the requirements of:
- allocation of tuition fees
- strict adherence with the processes that seek to make tuition increases transparent, reasonable and affordable.
CHED also said that in approving the applications for tuition hikes, “there is a need to balance access issues with sustainability of educational institutions.”
CHED said only 21 percent of some 1,683 private HEIs constitutes the number of schools that were allowed to hike their fees.
The CHED said 451 or 27 percent of 1,683 private HEIs had originally applied for an increase this year in tuition and other school fees, but the CHED, in its 413th Regular Commission En Banc Meeting, approved only 354 applications.
“The average tuition… increase per unit for school year 2013-2014 is P37.45 or 8.5 percent nationwide. This is the lowest percentage increase in the past 10 years,” it said.
It also said other school fees nationwide saw an average increase of P194.62 or 7.58 percent.
CHED said that in terms of the biggest increase, Metro Manila had a per unit tuition increase of P64.04 or 6.79 percent, followed by Region IV-A with P48.81 or 7.86 percent, and Central Luzon with P44.48 or 8.86 percent.
In Cagayan Valley the increase was at P31.26 or 12.25 percent, Bicol was at P44.77 or 11.83 percent, and Ilocos was at P34.10 or 11.12 percent.
Metro Manila, Region IV-A and Central Luzon have the most HEIs with 308, 230 and 202, respectively.
Of the 95 HEIs in Metro Manila that applied for tuition increase, 72 were approved. In Region IV-A, 52 of 64 that applied for a tuition hike got the CHED’s nod.
In Central Luzon, 37 of 55 applications were approved.
The CHED reminded HEIs that for every incremental tuition increase, they are to allocate 70 percent for the payment of salaries, wages, allowances and other benefits of teaching and non-teaching personnel; 20 percent for improvement and/or acquisition or modernization of facilities; and 10 percent for the return on investment for the HEIs if they are stock corporations. — KBK, GMA News