May 20, 2024 (4:28 PM)

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As the semester ends, AdDU students line up to pay their remaining tuition fees for the last time before the proposed implementation of the 7% TOSFI in the upcoming academic year 2024-2025.

Photo by Seth Melvyn Gatinao

With the Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU) administration imposing another tuition and other school fees increase (TOSFI) for the next academic year 2024 – 2025, members of the University community expressed mixed reactions and concern with the fee hike given today’s economic climate.

The proposed 7% increase will be centered on personnel’s salary raises and meeting the University’s increasing expenses and developmental needs as presented to representatives of the University community in a multi-sectoral consultation meeting last February 23. 

During the meeting of the University’s Board of Trustees last May 11, 2024, the trustees approved the tuition and miscellaneous fee increase to ‘maintain financial stability and educational quality.’

Students’ perspective, concerns

Amidst the increase, students of various disciplines voiced their unease regarding the potential financial implications of the TOSFI. 

The rising inflation rates and ongoing financial challenges heightened by the global pandemic contributed to the raised concerns, particularly those from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

As enrollees with the highest units taken and fees paid in the university, students from the School of Engineering and Architecture (SEA) and the School of Nursing (SON) will be most affected by the tuition fee hike. 

In an interview with Atenews, BS Chemical Engineering student Sky Clint Liquit stated that although he is under a scholarship program, he would need more to shoulder the increasing tuition fee.

“As a DOST-SEI scholar student, I use 100% of my allowance and book incentives from the program to pay for my school assessment fees. So, as a student with 30 units, I will tighten my belt more.”

The increase has pushed Liquit to search for other universities that accredit his scholarship program and his undergraduate course.

Student-nurse Chino Isaiah Canete shares the same sentiment, emphasizing that despite the university not being considered the number one nursing school for many people in Davao, Ateneo’s tuition fee is almost twice as much as that of other schools.

“I think it’s fair to claim that AdDU is already the most expensive nursing program not just in Davao but Mindanao as a whole, as even XU had a lower tuition fee in their nursing course than us.”

TOSFI to respond to faculty, staff, and student needs

Finding a balance between financial sustainability and ensuring equitable access to education remains a significant consideration for faculty members.

Industrial Engineering Department Chair Francis Christopher “Kid” Bation told Atenews the importance of added compensation and benefits for the employees through the TOSFI. 

“I believe that these funds are crucial for hiring qualified faculty, investing in infrastructure and technology, and offering various academic and non-academic support services that enhance the overall learning experience of Ateneans,” Bation stated.

In the multisectoral consultation meeting held for the proposed TOSFI, Academic Vice President Gina Montalan said that the administration hopes to give the university employees a higher take home salary through the fee hike.

Further, Bation emphasized the need to improve the needs of the teaching staff aside from their take home pays.

“It’s crucial for the administration to prioritize other faculty needs, like enhancing faculty development and research support. This will surely benefit both faculty & students and will promote lifelong learning,” he noted. 

SAMAHAN President-elect and incoming 4th year Nursing student Leen Lapatis also told Atenews that the proposed increase will compensate for the needs of the University.

“I strongly believe that having the tuition fee increase can help us [nursing students] in learning and improving our skills needed in the hospital and clinical setting,” Lapatis added.

Bation also urges the administration to be more transparent when allocating funds, given that budget reserves will balloon because of tuition hikes.

Lapatis shared the same sentiments, expressing her expectations that the school will be able to properly inform the students of where the fees will go, considering that they are the top stakeholders of the University.

Administrative rationale of TOSFI

University Vice President for Finance and Treasurer Jimmy Delgado specified the factors driving the need for such fee adjustments behind the TOSFI.

The rise in miscellaneous fees will be mainly allocated to accommodate the increasing operational expenses, as well as additional maintenance and security personnel. 

Upgrades for school facilities, labs, and equipment, such as installing more Ruckus Wi-Fi Access Points and replacing the Jubilee Hall elevator, also cover part of the increase. 

The Vice President for Finance also emphasized that the 7% tuition fee hike is to cope with the rising inflation rates and increase the salary of the University’s faculty and staff as the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) for the union is about to end.

“In the CBA, 3% lang dapat ang increase but 5% was proposed this year since [the] inflation is [recorded at] 6.5-6.8%… kung 3%, aangal itong mga teachers kasi masyadong maliit, di sila makahabol sa 6.5%,” he said.

Delgado noted that spreading the CBA budget over three years is necessary, as condensing it into one year would result in a single lump increase. 

As for the students currently in the University, Delgado said that the administration is taking several measures to maintain the number of students presently enrolled, explaining that the tuition fee mainly depends on the number of students enrolling in the academic year.

“With the recent opening of the Advancement Office by Fr. Karel [the University President], the main purpose is to look for funds for scholarships and donations for capital expenditures for equipment. Isa yan sa mga target namin mangyari this year na we will look for funds mainly for scholarships so that we can increase the number of scholars that will be funded externally.”

Currently, the VP for Finance encourages more students to enroll in the following years so that the University does not need a tuition fee hike.

This article was published in the April 2024 Tabloid Issue of Atenews. Read it here: https://tinyurl.com/AtenewsTabVol69No3



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