MANILA (UPDATE) - The Commission on Higher Education on Monday said it was expecting an increase in tuition and other fees in colleges and universities to offset revenue losses linked to the coronavirus crisis.
A "decline in enrollment for the succeeding semester" will most likely force academic institutions to raise tuition and other fees, CHED Commissioner Aldrin Darilag told the Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals.
The COVID-19 crisis has affected about 3.5 million higher education students, Darilag added.
The commissioner did not detail the likely rate of tuition increase, but told senators that the global pandemic is also expected to result in the "displacement of part time and non-regular faculty."
After the hearing, Darilag clarified that CHED would not "impose or even influence hiking tuition and other school fees in the middle of a pandemic."
"We in CHED are aware of the financial burden that our learners and their parents bear during this unprecedented crisis," he said in a statement.
"Rest assured that we are doing our best to at least take the worries of matriculation out of their minds by making it possible to retain if not lower the existing tuition fee rate," he added.
CHED chairperson Prospero De Vera earlier told lawmakers that the higher education governing body cannot accept new merit scholars this coming school year as part of their budget for the Merit Scholarship Program was reallocated "to urgently support and contribute to the government's efforts in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and to prioritize need-based scholarships rather than merit-based scholarships."
CHED has asked the government to provide vouchers for students whose parents are overseas Filipino workers (OFW) who were temporarily barred from leaving the country due to worldwide lockdowns meant to curb the spread of the global pandemic.
Last month, private schools also appealed to lawmakers to include them in the government's wage subsidy program, noting that about 300,000 private school teachers are hired on a "no work, no pay" basis.
-- With a report from Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News