It was intended to set allowable rates of tuition and other school fees, the manner by which such fees are imposed and collected and to impose guidelines on tuition and other fee increases (ToFI).
The memorandum, however, was not without its share of opposition.
Under Section 8 of CMO 14, “Increases of in tuition and other fees above the national inflation rate shall be subject to consultation with stakeholders and approval of the Commission on higher Education.”
The provision allowed HEIs to forego consultations if the proposed ToFI is below the national inflation rate set by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).
For the academic year 2006-2007, the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) has been actively campaigning for the scrapping of CMO 14, mainly for the following:
1. It provided exemptions to consultations if the increase is within the declared national inflation rate and when the increase is applicable only to incoming freshmen;
2. It legitimized exorbitant fees and new fees to be collected by the school without proper guidelines on the nature of fees allowable to be collected;
3. It lessened student and multi-sectoral participation in the consultations and reiterated the long-criticized faulty consultation processes allowed by the CHED memo.
It was also discovered that CMO 14 violated Section 10 of RA 6728, which states, “In any proposed increase in the rate of tuition fee, there shall be appropriate consultation with… student governments or councils, alumni and faculty associations with respect to colleges.”
As a response, CHED released Memorandum Order No. 42, which amended CMO 14. Thus, Section 8 now reads, “The allowable increase… in all levels should not be more than the prevailing national inflation rate. Any increases… shall be subject to consultation with stakeholders…”
The move by CHED further validated the criticisms of NUSP against CMO 14 and their call for a refund of the illegal ToFI. However, NUSP only received the memo in January of this year, while CMO 42 was dated
Another amendment, this time in the form of CHED Memorandum Order No. 7, included the following: “The prevailing national inflation rate shall refer to the average annual headline inflation rate at the national level of the immediately preceding year prior to the Academic Year for which the intended increase shall take effect.”
See memos get suspended
During the opening plenary session of the 2nd National Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA) Congress at the Manila Hotel last February 19, CHED Chairman Carlito S. Puno announced the suspension of CMOs 14, 42 and 7, effective immediately. A week before, Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had a meeting with the (COCOPEA), during which she ordered the creation of a review team to evaluate CHED policies, procedures and practices. In place of the aforementioned CMOs, CHED Memorandum Order No. 13 would be observed, allowing school owners to increase tuition fee without any cap.
On the other hand, various groups condemned the questionable suspension of CMO 14, done in the middle of the consultation period. According to Kabataan Partylist president Raymond Palatino, private schools could use CMO 13 to wantonly increase miscellaneous fees, which the memorandum does not require for a consultation.
Kabataan Partylist and NUSP were also able to secure a copy of COCOPEA’s advisory to its members, dated February 20, containing the aforementioned reports.
Palatino said the advisory proves that PGMA “had a hand in the suspension of CMO 14 days after the end of the consultations for tuition and other fee increase proposals.”
He also said that Kabataan Partylist received reports from the student councils and organizations of University of the East,
Palatino further stated that the government “should implement a moratorium on tuition and other fee hikes to avoid a repeat of the collection of illegal tuition and miscellaneous fee increases last year.” He added that implementing an obsolete CMO 13 will only make matters worse.
Puno initially stood firm on his decision not to remove the tuition fee cap. The granting of COCOPEA’s request was due to NEDA’s issuance of 6.2% inflation rate and the positive growth in the Gross National Product (GNP).
He added that COCOPEA have been negotiating for the removal of the cap in increases for the last four years but he rejected it.
Puno allayed fears of skyrocketing tuition rates, stating that school owners are very much aware of the decrease in enrolment and implementing such increases is not feasible.
Run memo, run!
The new procedures regarding ToFI and new fees might not be around until February of next year, when consultations usually take place. For the meantime, students would have to survive the approved tuition fee increases in what could be a harsher, new school year.
CHED Memorandum Order No. 14, series of 2005
CHED Memorandum Order No. 42, series of 2006
CHED Memorandum Order No. 7, series of 2007
NUSP Campaign Memo, February 2007