International students in Silliman University (SU) are asking the administration for a breakdown of their fees after it implemented an unannounced increase in their fees which started this semester.
Fine Arts junior Heun Yang said that some international students were surprised to learn upon enrolment that their fees have increased.
The international students noticed a 30 per cent increase in both their tuition fees and miscellaneous fee.
“We were told that our Php5,000 international students fee is included in the miscellaneous fee. [Aside from that], we already pay a large amount in tuition fee so what is the purpose of [the rest of the] miscellaneous fee? Where does the money go?” Yang said.
Removal of subsidy
According to Atty. Fe Marie Tagle, vice-president for Finance and Administration (VPFA), the change in fees “is not an increase; it is actually the removal of subsidy from foreign students.”
The subsidy, which is 30 per cent of the fees, will be removed from the foreign students’ fee starting this semester. All pure and half Filipinos are still benefitting from the subsidy.
“What they [foreign students] are paying now is actually the full cost of education in Silliman. It’s actually not an increase. The subsidy is supposedly for Filipinos only,” Tagle said.
Tagle added that it has been evaluated by former VPFA Cleonico Fontelo whether SU can continue to subsidize everyone, including the foreigners.
According to Soyoung Min, senior psychology student, that prior to the increase, they heard that “since there will be less students, [SU] will increase foreign students’ fee…”
“There would be no freshmen [this year], ok, but I expected that they would increase the fees of everyone,” Min said.
However, Tagle clarified that the study they conducted before implementing the change showed “that the timing coincides with the full implementation of K-12” so removal of the subsidy for foreigners was “one of the measures used to prepare for the possible losses that might incur come 2016-2017.”
“They got to enjoy it in the past, but at this time, we can no longer afford the subsidy to be extended to them that’s why they have to pay the full cost,” Tagle said.
According to HISAW officials, however, the changes in their fees were not announced before enrolment.
“I guess in other countries they give more advantage to the locals. We understand that, but the thing is, they could have told us in advance,” Yang said.
Yang added that they can make the announcement either online or offline.
“If they have proper announcement…that will make us feel respected. That’s the minimum respect the staff can give us,” Yang said.
According to HISAW president Anthony Heitzeberg, their adviser, Moses Atega, explained to them the side of SU president Ben Malayang III regarding the international students’ fee.
“I have done some research. I’m actually thankful that it’s [international students’ fee] cheaper here in Silliman…We don’t want to question the faith of this school…we believe it’s good, it’s a Christian institution,” Heitzeberg said.
However, Heitzeberg added that they just want to know where the money goes since they were told it would be spent in their organization [HISAW] but they still pay another amount for that.
“We are Sillimanians and we really love this school. We just want to work hand in hand. We are not trying to make a revolution…We just want to know where the money goes,” Heitzeberg said.
Meanwhile, Yang said that she doesn’t expect the fees to be lowered, but she is asking for clarification as to “where they are using the miscellaneous fee for.”
International student concerns
According to Yang, they have been trying to ask administrators for an explanation concerning their fees.
“We don’t get clear answers. We are always referred from one office to another,” Yang said.
Heitzeberg said that they are planning to have an open forum with the administration for this and other concerns of the international students.