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Monday, May 20, 2024

Student leaders say no to TOFI for next academic year

3 min readStudent leaders underlined that increasing school fees is unnecessary given that the country is experiencing an economic crisis which can only place an additional strain on the students and their families.
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Published about 1 year ago on April 28, 2023

by Alexandria Grace Magno

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(Photo by Ernest Martin Tuazon/TomasinoWeb)

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Student representatives from different universities gathered in front of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to hold a press conference to discuss the tuition and other fees increase (TOFI).

In the press conference held on Monday, April 24, the student leaders urged CHED to impose a moratorium on tuition and other fee hike for the upcoming academic year, given the economic status of the country.

The student leaders underlined that increasing school fees is unnecessary given that the country is experiencing an economic crisis which can only place an additional strain on the students and their families.

"Marami sa ating mag-aaral at kanilang pamilya ang naghihirap ngayon dahil sa pandemya at 'di dapat dagdagan pa ang kanilang pasanin sa pamamagitan ng pagpapataw ng mataas na bayarin sa kolehiyo," Ateneo De Manila representative Heather Andres said.

Each representative also shared their sentiments on TOFI, and how it concerns not only the student body but also the staff of their respective universities.

Student leaders from the University of Santo Tomas, Ateneo de Manila University, and the University of the East Manila and Caloocan together with NUSP spokesperson Joshua Aquiler submitted position papers to CHED opposing the implementation of tuition and other fees hike.

In the end, the representatives of various universities call on more accessible and affordable education for all.

Calling for transparency

"It happened not once, but twice," outgoing Conservatory of Music student council president Benedict Kawi said, pointing out the unbureaucratic means of the University in proposing the tuition fee increase.

He mentioned that the students were supposed to be included in the consultation, but it appeared to be more of a notice of hike than a consultation with the student body.

Similar to last year, student leaders involved in the consultation were only given 30 minutes to discuss their inquiries and concerns on the topic.

"Within these 30 minutes it will only be through chat and not through microphones*. *Not through opening your mic," he added.

Kawi also drew attention to the University's lack of transparency over the fee increase, compared with other universities who have previously disclosed their proposed breakdown of fees to their student bodies.

"Sa 27 pa natin malalaman kung ano ba yung proposed fees natin...may tactic talagang ginagawa ang UST para i-delay ang lahat so when it's there wala na kaming masasabi," he said.

Kawi explained how the possible hike was unjust considering the current economic crisis, citing the blanket policy on energy fees implemented last year, which was an unjust move to other colleges that remained in a virtual setup.

"But not all colleges [are conducting on-site classes during that time] such as AB*, hindi naman sila *face-to-face," he said.

The tuition fee increase — specifically during the pandemic — became an added burden to parents, the incumbent Conservatory of Music student council president said..

"Hindi naman makatarungan na mag impose ang University ng ganon kataas, especially during a crisis na ang daming nawawalan ng trabaho*," he argued.

According to Kawi, requesting for the breakdown of fees, utilizing and conducting ground data, and launching social media campaigns are highlighted in the plans of action prepared by the Central Board.

'VeriTAAS,' Thomasians oppose TOFI

Outgoing CSC president Nathan Agustin shared in a tweet the summary of the tuition and other school fees consultation with the University's administration on Thursday, April 27.

In his tweet, Agustin mentioned that there would be a 7 percent increase in tuition fees, miscellaneous, and other expenses.

"All details were overwhelmingly announced at once...and they were staggering," he wrote.

Agustin highlighted the absence of details on TOFI despite their request that was supposedly given ahead of time, outgoing LSC officials that were no longer invited, and the Q & A segment of the said consultation that only lasted 30 minutes.

Agustin also noted that the newly-elected members of the CSC executive board, together with the outgoing members, are still waiting for the delayedresponse on their request for further consultation.

"Lumagpas na sa isang araw. Was it really a legitimate consultation? Let the facts speak for themselves," he added.

Agustin assured the Thomasian community that although their term in office was coming to a close, they would continue to stand firm on what they were fighting for.

On the same night, incoming CSC vice president Aiah Jacinto — on behalf of the CSC-elect executive board for A.Y. 2023–2024 — published a statement addressing the tuition and other student fees hike.

In their statement, the next council firmly opposed the University's proposed tuition and other student fees increase.

"Now more than ever, we need your compassion, UST. Please heed our call," the statement read.

The incoming student leaders emphasized the burden of the proposed 7 percent hike, and a 40 percent flat rate as a down payment in installments to the students of the University, considering the current economic situation and how it will be a barrier to accessible and high-quality education for everyone.

Similar to the sentiments shared by Agustin, the incoming CSC executive board also highlighted the insufficient time given to process the information they received during the consultation.

The said consultation with invited stakeholders occurred just a day before the deadline set by CHED for private schools and universities to communicate with their constituents regarding the TOFI for the next academic year.

In line with student's resistance, a protest on the impending tuition increase will be held at University Avenue in UP Diliman today, April 28, at 4:00 p.m. — with reports from Ernest Tuazon

Tuition Fee Increase

University of Santo Tomas

TOFI

CHED

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Alexandria Grace Magno

Managing Editor

Alexandria Grace Magno is the Managing Editor of TomasinoWeb. She is a third-year Journalism student with almost nine years of experience in Campus Journalism, particularly in the Radio Broadcasting and Scriptwriting category. She has experience writing for live shows and university programs under Tiger Media Network. During her vacation, she worked as a volunteer for Move PH, Rappler's civic engagement division, where she gained skills in covering and writing wrap-ups as well as human-interest stories.

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