Despite financial losses in recent years, Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU) will not be implementing a Tuition and Other Fees Increase (TOFI) next school year 2021-2022, Vice President for Finance and University Treasurer Jimmy Delgado disclosed in an online discussion with students Thursday.
Although this is still tentative, Delgado said that there is a ‘99% chance’ that the proposal will be approved by the Board of Trustees (BoT).
The VP for Finance shared that the decision not to have a TOFI was made possible by the concession of the College Faculty Union (CFU) to put salary increases on hold in the meantime.
“As agreed by the Union, there is no salary increase, so meaning the tuition fee that will be assessed is still the same as the tuition fee of 2019-2020,” he said.
According to Delgado, a probable increased tuition fee might be implemented in 2022 or when the economy recovers, as per the faculty’s salary-raise request.
Since AdDU plans to implement blended learning for the next SY, he added that some miscellaneous fees that had been previously discounted might also be reinstated, “if the services are necessary for the school to operate.”
Those that will likely be reinstated are the Audio Visual, Laboratory, Guidance and Counselling, Medico-Dental, and Publication fees. Additionally, the Energy, Development, and Laboratory fees will be checked according to their usage.
For SY 2020-2021, the University had decided not to increase tuition and miscellaneous fees. Some of the miscellaneous fees had also been discounted, between 50% to 100%.
Alongside the proposal for no TOFI, Delgado said that the University also plans to implement blended learning for the next SY. If approved, SY 2021-2022 will begin in July.
Delgado said he hopes for a blended mode of learning so that “the students can.. access the school, can spend their time in the library, ask questions to the teachers, collaborate and learn from each other..”
“Kasi may mga courses na mahirap talaga kapag ikaw lang mag-isa,” he added, citing the importance of collaborative learning, particularly in Accountancy.
Pursuant to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) guidelines, however, Delgado said certain limitations will be imposed if blended learning is to be implemented.
“There could be a possibility that there is limited access. Baka during summative exams lang, laboratory or P.E or very specific portion lang ng campus is allowed for students to enter,” he said.
Between blended and fully online learning, Delgado also shared that enrollment figures are expected to be higher with the former.
“Blended Learning is only possible when the economy has recovered, meaning restrictions are eased, and when we do the enrollment, it’s gonna be higher compared to the online,” he said.
As projected, 7,596 students will be enrolled in Blended Learning, while Fully Online enrollees will be only 7,372.
If the proposal is approved, the enrollment period for first-year students starts in April, and the higher years may follow in July based on estimates.
“So, at least mahaba-haba yung relaxation niyo. And we need that because it’s transition year this year,” he said.
No vaccination, no entry
During the discussion of proposed blended learning, students raised concerns about safety and vaccination.
Delgado said the University is considering these, hence the policy that only vaccinated individuals will be allowed to enter campus.
“It’s mandatory when you enter the campus. But if you will not [enter the campus], then you don’t really need to get vaccinated… but you are highly encouraged,” he said.
According to Delgado, they are planning to provide vaccines for students and faculty. The vaccine fees may be added to students’ tuition fees and reduced from employees’ salaries.
Meanwhile, proper health protocols will also be enforced and health workers will be stationed on campus.
With some vaccines being approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently, Delgado said there is “a big chance that students can access the school this July.”
Even if the University decides not to go blended, Delgado said they are considering allowing students to enter the campus for wifi connectivity purposes.
“It’s one of the main considerations. That’s part of our plan to allow students, even if it’s fully online, but I think this is not for all. We have to be selective.”
Delgado further added that the University President ordered the survey preparation and gave the URC a due ‘within the week’ to finish it.
“Most likely next week, you all are going to receive a questionnaire about the vaccine via email,” he mentioned.
Reversing loss before CapEx
Discussing the impact of the pandemic and the shift to online learning towards the overall budget, Delgaldo explained that the school aims to “reverse” the loss in their operating income before capital expenditures (CapEx) which is at -2% this year.
While operating income refers to the university’s profit after deducting expenses incurred for operation, CapEx pertains to the funds used by the university in the acquisition or maintenance of long-term assets such as property, plant, and equipment or technological investments.
“Accounting-wise, that’s really the operations of the school. Capital Expenditure kasi is an asset, and financing expense is the payment of our building,” he said.
He noted that the management aims to make the loss in the operating income before CapEx to reach at least zero.
“Next school year, whether we will be fully online or blended, we are still negative. But by 2022-2023, we’re hopeful that we can make that [a] zero, meaning that’s ‘break-even,’’ he elaborated.
The University Treasurer said that it’s not financially good if the school will always be negative, exemplifying the Holy Cross Davao College close-down case.
The school last gained a positive record way back in 2015 before the K-12 transition started.
Delgaldo further reiterated the financial differences between the two modes of learning considering that some fees needed to be reinstated.
“Whether fully online or blended learning, there are some fees na kailangan na talagang ibalik,” he said recalling that the budget cuts for the current SY was in consideration of the online shift.
Among the removed fees are the Athletics, Audio Visual, and Publication fees. However, the school cut in half the Facility Improvements, Energy, and Development fees. Only the guidance fee and Medico-dental had a partial cut of about 75-80%.
According to Delgado, they did not alter the budget for Library, Information Technology (IT), Institutional Research, and DACS fees since it was deemed “important”.
Both modes of learning varied only in fees, with an initial approximation of 73 million in a Fully Online setting and 136 million in Blended Learning with several fees reinstated.