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Enrollment in peril? Students protest DLSU tuition increase 

by Gaby Agbulos

AMID the rising prices of commodities, students of the De La Salle University will be facing another burden in the 2023-2024 school year: a 4 percent tuition increase. 

DLSU’s University Student Government announced last week that the increase was decided following the meeting of the Multi-Sectoral Consultative Committee on Tuition Fees.

The 4 percent increase would be implemented because of rising inflation, the need to increase the salaries of university employees, and the planned improvement of school facilities in the coming months. 

The USG, which had taken the position that there should be no tuition increase at all, condemned the decision of the university, pointing out that not all students have the financial capability to cope with higher school fees. 

Prior to the decision, more than 4,600 DLSU students signed a petition for the #AyokongMagMahal campaign, which called for a zero percent tuition increase. 

Hot topic 

Even prior to the announcement of the increase, it was already a hot topic among students, some of whom feared they would be unable to continue their schooling. 

During the 2020 to 2021 school year, the tuition at the university ranged from P59,000 to P76,000 per semester. The DLSU has a trimester system. 

“The tuition fee hike was already a prominent topic even during the online classes,” said Faye Abiera, a 3rd Year student at DLSU. “With the announcement of the attempt of the university to return to face-to-face classes, the implementation of [an] increase in tuition fees was also declared to the student body.”

Students worried about continuing their studies 

With the official decision to increase the fees, some students are up in arms. 

“Considering the country is in an economic crisis, the university should be at the vanguard in ensuring that every student is able to enroll, because not every Lasallian comes from a very wealthy background,” said Mark Cachero, a member of Kabataan Partylist DLSU. 

The struggle is real for Jazel Aguatis, a 2nd year student.

“I’m struggling to pay for tuition because of my family’s current financial standing, and I’m actually on Student Loan this term. An increase would just drown me in these student loans further, which takes [up] a lot of mental space for me, and results in me struggling with my studies too,” Aguatis said. 

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Raylynne Estrella, a 3rd year student, felt that the tuition increase does not promote the students’ best interests.

“A tuition fee increase in an ongoing pandemic is against the university’s promotion of a pro-student learning system. Furthermore, it can be overwhelming for a lot of people as not everyone is in a privileged position,” said Estralla. 

Janela Grande, another 3rd year student, shared the same sentiment and said some students may be forced to stop schooling or would be forced to take on jobs that could affect their studies. 

A tuition fee increase may also affect the ability of low-income students to complete their degree programs”

Janela Grande

“If they are unable to afford the cost of tuition, they may be forced to drop out of school or take on additional work to cover the costs, which can negatively impact their academic performance and ability to succeed,” she added. 

Parents’ burden 

Similar to the reactions of the students, there were no smiling faces when the news was extended to the parents. 

“My mom was surprised, but she said that we cannot do anything about it,” Grande shared. 

Cachero’s parents felt the same. 

“Although they have saved up for my college funds, the tuition fee increase would greatly compromise our budgeting,” he said. 

Many other students are scared to break the news to their parents. 

I still haven’t extended the news to my family, but I know that this would stress them out and would again lay the option to pull me out from the university” 

Jazel Aguatis

A call to the DLSU administration 

Even though DLSU is known as one of the country’s top universities with above average tuition, Abiera said the school should also consider the welfare of those who would be affected. 

“We understand that DLSU is a top university, however, its student body should not struggle to afford quality education from it,” she said. 

“I know the administration can still push for a zero percent  increase and hope that they too should look at this issue through the eyes of those who are affected, the Lasallian community,” she added. 

Estrella called on the DLSU administration to listen to the students’  concerns and to rethink its decision. 

“I understand that everyone is affected by the toiling economic conditions of the country but we have to think of what is beneficial for everyone. The students’ welfare should be the top priority of the university as the school is built upon the foundation of providing quality education to all,” she said.

Members of the Lasallian community have, since the announcement, clamored for reconsideration of the increase. People like Abiera, for example, have participated in a petition in protest against the issue. 

Cachero said that at present, 20 percent of the student body have signed the petition against the tuition increase. 

“We get that the need for a salary increase for teachers and new facilities is crucial, but we heed the admin to not take this burden to the students and parents who are struggling in the midst of an economic crisis,” he said. 

“We were always taught the core value of the Zeal for Service, but how can we give our students a quality education if we impose a [tuition fee increase] that makes it inaccessible?” he added. 

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