As universities are set to apply for fee increases before the Commision on Higher Education (CHED) this February, students and a tuition hike watch in Far Eastern University (FEU) unite under one rallying call: “Ayaw naming magmahal, FEU!”
“Taon-taon na lang ang pagmamahal ng matrikula at iba pang bayarin sa FEU, habang nananatiling sarado ang institusyong ito sa tunay na hinaing ng mga mag-aaral,” said Jilliane Gonzales, Ayokong Magmahal FEU Network spokesperson, an alliance of students and organizations led by Anakbayan–FEU.
[Every year, tuition and other fees increase in FEU, while the institution remains closed to the true calls of the students.]
Few days following the annual University Tuition Consultation on January 30, the group along with some other students, held a Black Friday Protest on February 21 to express their opposition to the administration’s new round of tuition hike proposal.
During the protest, Gonzales condemned the school’s administration for saying that the surge in fees were “primarily prompted by academic development plans,” emphasizing that administration-led “development program” must not be solely shouldered by and be imposed as a burden to students.
“Hindi katanggap-tanggap ang sinasabi ng pamunuan ng FEU na ang pagpapaunlad ng mga programang pang-akademiko ang batayan ng muli na namang pagtataas ng matrikula at iba pang bayarin dahil hanggang ngayon ay kinakaharap pa rin ng mga kapwa naming estudyante ang samu’t saring suliranin sa enrollment at mga binabayarang fees ng mga organisasyon para makapaglunsad ng mga aktibidad,” she expressed.
[The FEU administration’s basis for raising tuition and other fees anew for development of academic programs is not acceptable because our fellow students continue to face problems in enrollment and fees paid by organizations to hold activities.]
According to the Network, this February, the University’s administration is set to push a 3.5% hike in tuition; 89.2% increase in student insurance fee; change in downpayment from P8,500 to P10,000, among other ‘dubious’ and ‘exorbitant’ increases for the next academic year.
In its official statement, FEU Central Student Organization (FEUCSO) also aired concern over the administration’s action: “[We are] not in favor with the proposed 3.5% Tuition and Other Fees increase….We firmly stand that education is a fundamental right guaranteeing equal, quality, and affordable access to basic student services whether in public or private academic institution.”
Failed education system
Gonzales, opposing the looming surge in tuition and other fees, pointed out that the administration never tried to hear the cry of students for genuine school services.
“Ang mga polisiya at panukala ng unibersidad ay patunay lamang ng edukasyong nakabatay sa kita, tinatratong negosyo, at hindi sa pagseserbisyo sa mga mag-aaral ang pinayayabong ng mga opisyal nito,” she said.
[The policies and proposals of the university is proof of education based on profits, treated as a business enterprise, and not for the service of the students that its officials allow to prosper.]
According to her, the university should reconsider its bid to increase fees as most of the students come from families whose providers are either farmers or overseas Filipino workers.
With the looming increase, Gonzales slammed the “subservience” of Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to “capitalist-educators”, citing its “rubber stamp and passive role in the face of attacks on students’ right to education.”
”CHED has failed the Filipino students for decades and enabled the neoliberal attacks on education. It continuously disregards the students’ demands for genuine education while obediently following the policy impositions and tuition increase proposals of capitalist educators,” the network said in a statement.
Relenting draw of campaigns, support
Amid the threats posed by the school officials to students who hold protests, as what they did to student leaders last year, the Ayokong Magmahal FEU Network, launched protests inside the school, including a signature campaign and wearing of black ribbons.
“Ang mga opisyal mismo ng unibersidad ang nagtulak sa amin na maglunsad ng mga protesta at kampanya laban sa tuition increase dahil ipinakita nila na hindi consultative at democratic ang University Tuition Consultation. Ito ay isang porma lamang ng anunsyo ang muling pagmamahal ng matrikula at gagawin nila ang pagpigil sa anumang uri ng oposisyon laban sa naturang pagtataas ng mga bayarin,” said Gonzales.
[The university officials push us to protest and campaign against tuition increase because they showed us that the University Tuition Consultation is not consultative and democratic. The information on increasing tuition is a form of announcement and they will suppress opposition to the increase of fees.]