/ 18 July 2021

A COALITION of student groups at the University of the East-Caloocan asked the Commission on Higher Education to investigate the excessive fees the university allegedly imposed during distance learning setup.

In a letter addressed to CHED Chairman Prospero de Vera III, the Central Student Council and College Councils found UE’s realignment of miscellaneous fees as absurd.

“The constant annual fee increases unfairly burden the students who, in return, would only be given inadequate or even non-existent facilities and services,” the student councils said.

“With the struggles being faced up to this day, it is inappropriate to allow such an increase to push through on account of these preposterous costs,” they added.

Since electrical consumption is limited to only few facilities and skeletal working arrangement is being implemented, the groups questioned the increase of energy fee by about P250.

“Again, students do not even directly benefit from this because all classes are conducted online. The current set up has long resulted in significantly less use of the university’s physical resources and, consequently, lower energy consumption,” they stressed.

The coalition claimed virtual laboratory fees which range from P5,000 to P10,000 are underutilized and not used by students.

Citing students are paying for their own internet connection during online classes, the groups also criticized the increase of technology fee by P2,000.

They also asked to remove the health service fee as there is no student physical-medical exam ever since the start of the remote learning.

Similarly, the councils revealed student-athletes have not received their monthly allowance, thereby paying for the sports development fee is debatable.

“We would like to acknowledge your good office for paying attention to the issues raised by the students. We hope you will do the same with these recent concerns as we continue our fight for everyone’s benefits,” they said.

In a separate statement, UE President Esther Garcia maintained fees being collected are just and necessary.

Garcia said the university cannot revoke nor refund these fees because of the ongoing contract with service providers.

“We have to pay what we contracted for. We’ve been negotiating with them (internet/electricity service providers), but we have not been lucky enough,” she said.

“We are still required to maintain a library, and we are required to maintain them online. We have to have people who’d come in to do research for students and faculty members and do their classes.”

Garcia reiterated the university is trying its best to give “as many discounts as it can.”