By Pet Melliza/The Beekeeper
In school year 2010-2011, the University of Iloilo’s – Phinma’s college of nursing had 699 senior nursing students. That’s only the graduating class and not counting those of lower years which could be more than four times that figure.
Today, had management not gone astray, its entire nursing student population might still approximate that number or slightly less considering the decline in the demand for nurses.
However, UI-Phinma failed 325 out of its 699 senior its nursing students in 2010-2011 for outrageous reasons. It ensured that low figure of graduates by raising the cut-off average from 75 to 77. Pure sadistic and arbitrary.
UI-Phinma reaps what it sowed, since then. Its nursing enrollment plummeted; This school year, only 16 enrolled for the first semester. Its faculty or the bulk and the best thereof, migrated to rival schools like St. Paul University, St. Therese College, and John B. Lacon Maritime University.
Phinma stands for Philippine Investment Management Consultants, Inc. It got its corporate charter in 1957 under the name of Bacnotan Cement Industries, Inc. (BCII). In the same year, with Phinma in control, it bought Cebu Portland Cement Company.
The acquisition of in 2007 UI is just a chapter in its corporate quest. But it appears that it mixes up business and education when a thin line supposedly separates each from the other. Our 1987 Constitution lumps education and religion in the same genre of tax-exempt sectors.
That means, neither religion nor education deserves to be treated and taxed like any business venture. Neither is supposed to be treated to be in the league of other corporations whose first and last aim is profits.
What happened to UI-Phinma merely points to the sad reality that its bigwigs confuse education, supposedly “non-profit” with regular business; they want nothing short of profit.
We had a chance to interview UI-Phinma’s senior nursing students, among the 325 that did not make it to graduation. UI-Phinma flunked them because they failed the “comprehensive examinations”. Each of the 669 coughed up P15,000 to take the “compre”. It later renamed it “comprehensive enhancement program” (CEP) as the controversy heated up.
Multiply that amount with the number of graduating students (P15,000 x 699) and you have P14,485,000. No sweat. That’s on top of the regular tuition students must pay.
Aside from the CEP, UI-Phinma further fleeced its graduating students P1,000 to attend the “emergency nursing seminar” (ENS) as another imposition. The school has no qualified staff to train students in “basic life support” (BLS), so it contracted the RGO Review Center which in turn, tapped the Iloilo City Emergency Response (ICER).
UI-Phinma collected P699,000 for the ENS. The students demanded for BLS certificate which they needed to apply in hospitals for volunteer work. Darwin Joemel Papa, ICER chief, was embarrassed after learning that. He thought his group was only providing the students an “introductory training for paramedics.”
ICER trains people in emergency response to include first aid “for free”. Papa was surprised after learning that UI-Phinma charged the students. He had a glimpsed of the amount charged after RGO “donated” to the emergency responder P180,000 worth of rescue equipment.
In W. Visayas, only one entity is qualified to issue BLS certificate and that is the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC), Papa says. ICER is not yet qualified to issue that document.
The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) rebuked UI-Phinma for its arbitrariness. CHED chair Carlito S. Puno in Memorandum No. 13, series of 2006, reminded the school that its “comprehensive enhancement program” was a “forced review”, thus, was not an approved curriculum for nursing. In other words, senior students who complied with all other requirements were not supposed to be barred from graduating just because they had not taken or failed the “compre” exam.
Further, CHED Region 6 director, Virginia P. Resurrection amplified that in her memorandum dated March 24, 2011 stating that nursing schools were prohibited from: (1) forcing students to enroll in their own review centers or facilities of their preference; (2) charging exorbitant rates for the review, and (3) withholding grades and other documents from graduates who did not review in their review centers.
Justice remains elusive to Class 2010 of UI-Phinma College of Nursing.