Monday, July 15, 2024

The Price of Quality Education at Silliman University

by Argielyn Kate P. Vergaño | May 3, 2023

Silliman University, established as the first American and one of the leading Christian institutions in the Philippines, has been refining its image in recent years while maintaining its record as one of the top universities in the country. As a result, the institution anticipates higher enrollment in the next academic year at the cost of potential tuition hikes. Meanwhile, in order to maintain quality education as well as safe and well-managed facilities for the entire Silliman community, the Silliman University Vice President for Finance and Operations (SU-VPFO) has proposed a 7% increase in miscellaneous fees for the academic year 2023-2024 based on the rationale of inflation, which is putting a strain on the economy. On the other hand, students have expressed reservations and concerns about their families’ limited financial resources as well as the quality of education they are experiencing at the moment.

When assessing the possibility of tuition and other fees increasing, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) considers the following: the inflation rate—7.6% as of March 2023 (PSA)—the financial condition of the school, the student’s financial capacity, and their educational track record. In this regard, the SU-VPFO appears to have based the 7% increase primarily on the high inflation that continues to strain and tighten Filipinos’ belts. However, from an economic standpoint, examining economic indicators such as the Consumer Price Index is merely one approach to determining whether the university’s goals are in line with the economic well-being of students and the entire Silliman community. On the contrary, poverty, unemployment, generational burdens, and regional economic disparities must also be thoroughly investigated. The region’s cost of living and commodity prices, which are cheaper than those in the National Capital Region should also be taken into account.

The administration must also undertake a comprehensive survey of its students in order to thoroughly assess their current income condition and the repercussions of rising prices on their households. Although the economy is slowly growing and recovering from the depths of the pandemic and other adversities, a lack of financial resources makes it difficult for Filipino households to meet a decent living standard, particularly in education, because Higher Education Institutions have become increasingly expensive and inaccessible over the years, far exceeding the capacity of Filipino households.

Nevertheless, tuition hikes are necessary to support teachers and enhance the quality of education. Likewise, I believe that the SU administration should be specific and transparent about its goals for raising the fees. Despite the fact that a financial breakdown has been provided, the objectives and goals remain vague and unattainable at this time. Fee changes can be distributed efficiently provided that the projected goals and targets are adequately stated. 

We students are currently hoping for greater transparency and accountability from the SU administration so that any cost adjustments benefit both students and the entire Silliman community. Finally, if the goal is to strive for a more comprehensive, high-quality education and learning environment, the increase in tuition and other fees should be reasonable. As a student, I support high-quality, innovative education, but not at the expense of my family’s limited financial means or other students who are struggling to make ends meet.


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