The Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) held its fifth and final consultation meeting with stakeholders on its proposed adjustment of tuition and other fees it is collecting from the Commission on Higher Education’s (CHED) Unified Financial Assistance System program or UniFAST on Wednesday, January 25, 2023.
University officials reiterated that undergraduate students who are within the maximum residency requirement or MRR period, referring to the number of years to complete academic requirements to obtain a bachelor’s degree, will continue to enjoy tuition-free education as provided by Republic Act No. 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act.
“The proposed adjustment of the tuition fees reimbursed by PLM from the UniFAST Program seeks to reflect the true cost of education in our University. Additional funds to be invested and spent on continuing upgrades to our facilities and equipment as well as the recruitment of additional full-time faculty members,” University President Emmanuel Leyco said.
“These efforts will allow PLM to keep up with the challenges of 2023 and the years ahead and to sustain our academic goals of providing free high quality tertiary education to our Filipino youth,” he added.
PLM Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Clydelle Rondaris noted that the additional funds which the University will potentially receive will be allotted to additional library resources and new equipment for laboratories.
“We have facilities improvement projects from various colleges put on hold due to a budget constraint. These will be our priority expenses once we secure additional funding through UniFAST,” Dr. Rondaris added.
PLM’s current UniFAST reimbursement rates were set five years ago and are now unable to cover the true cost of education in the University. Additional costs have been incurred for adjustments in physical and digital infrastructure amid blended learning due to the pandemic, as well as the high inflation rate.
From a rate of P585 per unit for the College of Physical Therapy and P293 per unit for all other undergraduate programs, PLM is looking to raise the UniFAST reimbursement rate to P950 per unit. The rate is higher for Physical Therapy students due to their equipment-intensive laboratory classes (e.g., training mannequins).
Vice President for Finance and Management Luzviminda Landicho explained that laboratory fees are also up for correction. PLM initially proposed to adjust lab fees from a flat rate of P146 per student to a three-tier scheme: P300 for enrollees in courses that require basic equipment, P450 for those under programs requiring special programs for hands-on instruction, and P600 for those enrolled in courses that need special equipment and programs for applied training.
On average, PLM spends P42,384.25 per student across various undergraduate programs. UniFAST reimbursements are unable to cover this full cost, with a funding gap of at least P11,578.25 for Physical Therapy students and as wide as P28,437.25 among BS Nursing students.
To put into context, the University of the Philippines charges P1,500 per unit for non-MRR undergraduate students through UniFAST while the Polytechnic University of the Philippines is reimbursed at a rate of P1,600 per unit per student under the same free tuition program.
The adjusted UniFAST reimbursements are proposed to take effect in the first semester of Academic Year 2023-3024. If approved, the additional financial resources accrued to PLM is expected to reverse the P114.28-million budget deficit of the University in 2021 into a slim P1.5-million funding surplus.
Members of the PLM community have expressed full support to the adjustment of tuition fee reimbursement rates for UniFAST in all consultation sessions, which culminated in the signing of a joint statement of support on Wednesday.
PLM previously held four other consultation meetings on January 16 for the Science and Technology Cluster (College of Engineering, College of Science, and College of Architecture and Urban Planning), Jan. 19 for the Education and Humanities Cluster (College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences; College of Education; and School of Social Work), Jan. 20 for the Health Sciences Cluster (College of Nursing and College of Physical Therapy), and Jan. 23 for the Business and Management Cluster (PLM Business School and the School of Government).
The series of consultations are in accordance with CHED Memorandum Order No. 03, Series of 2012 that prescribes the procedure for increases in tuition and other school fees. PLM’s proposal will then be forwarded to CHED for evaluation.
“We are hopeful that CHED will heed our call for greater state support to PLM as we continue to contribute to nation-building. There is no better way to invest in the future than by dedicating more resources for our youth and their education,” President Leyco added.
PLM has been consistently performing well to nurture learners into industry professionals, as evidenced by strong performances in various licensure examinations.