‘Students’ voice matters,’ says iACADEMY amid complaints on tuition refunds, suspension of classes

April 30, 2020 - 5:22 PM
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Access to streaming site YouTube was disrupted for at least two hours on Wednesday morning in Manila (Philstar.com/File photo)

A private academic institution in Makati City on Thursday stressed that its students’ voice matters amid their online complaints on tuition refunds and suspension of online classes.

“We have heard your voices and it matters to us. I would like to thank all of you for your show of solidarity and continued dedication to completing your chosen course,” Vanessa Tanco, president and chief executive officer of iACADEMY said in a statement.

“The spread of COVID-19 has caused a lot of anxiety and uncertainty, not just amongst ourselves but all throughout the county and the world for that matter. But I would like to assure you that we have the institution’s, the student’s the faculty and every employee’s good at heart. It is a struggle to put a balance on everyone’s interests but we do what we can to ensure the continuity of the institution you have chosen for your education,” she added.

The iACADEMY, a school specializing on programs in  Computing, Business and Liberal Arts, and Design, released the statement on Thursday afternoon after its student leader Kyle Montoya shared on Facebook that the academic institution allegedly dismissed students’ complaints.

Among these complaints was the call for suspension of online classes which is also being petitioned by other youth groups amid the enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila.  

In his Facebook post last Friday, Montoya shared his tale on how the school administration allegedly outrightly dismissed the concerns he raised on behalf of the student body and their parents. 

Hi, my name is Christian Kyle Montoya, a Software Engineering, Senior Year, and a student leader. For the majority of…

Posted by Kyle Montoya on Friday, April 24, 2020

 

I felt so, so freakin‘ bad, my mentality literally crumbled on the spot. I was shaking, but not because I was scared; it was because I felt disappointed and absolutely betrayed by the very institution I tried so hard to serve and protect,” Montoya wrote.  

Montoya recalled that since the start of April, he had compiled the concerns of the students and their parents about their classes and tuition and then sent them via email to the school administration.  

From April 1 to 22, he detailed how he followed up for their response every day and the back-and-forth email exchanges he had with the iACADEMY representative.  

On April 22, iACADEMY announced a refund on fees on its official Facebook page, which Montoya said they were initially satisfied about.  

Given recent developments related to COVID-19 and considering all the recommendations relayed to us, the Finance department will release information and guidelines on fees and refund via email, neo and isims,” the post read.  

Heads up, Game Changers!Given recent developments related to COVID-19 and considering all the recommendations relayed…

Posted by iACADEMY on Tuesday, April 21, 2020

 

The refund initiative, he said, however, was just a fee credit which could be carried over to the next semester.  

Sure, it is a refund if you’re graduating, but our graduating batch is way less than the entire population of the school. So what was exactly that post about? A clickbait for everyone to positively react to and share, or just an honest error?” Montoya said.  

When he emailed the administration again, Montoya got a call from a representative via Viber, whom he claimed told him that the school will no longer respond to his emails in the future.  

How dare you deny me, and all of the students vital information as to what exactly happened to our parents’/guardians’ hard-earned money? How dare you point out that I am “harassing” the institution when all I did is for the betterment of the students, the parents, and the school?” Montoya said in the post.  

The student leader claimed that he and other students have proofs of their messages and copies of the comments iACADEMY deleted from their Facebook posts.  

He also encouraged his fellow students that they should not be afraid to voice out their complaints and criticisms to the administration in the future.  

Don’t be scared because “they’re your superiors”, because let me ask you this: “What is a school without its students?” he said. 

Echoed sentiments on online classes  

When Montoya’s post reached local Twitter, other students echoed his sentiments through the hashtag #GisingiAcademy and #stoponlineclasses. 

Others shared a screenshot of iACADEMY’s deleted post showing a graphic with the slogan: “Be inquisitive,” claiming that the deletion was the school’s attempt to silence its students.  

Screenshot by Interaksyon

In view of this, iACADEMY’s Tanco said she released the statement to address pressing matters brought to the administration’s attention.

Among the issues are addressed are the following:

Online classes

Tanco said the iACADEMY “made available alternative online classes for those who wish to continue with this lessons.

“Our institution was built to reinvent education to address the ever changing needs of our society,” she said, adding that “this isn’t mandatory.”

“We understand that there maybe difficulties for some to sign up for online classes so we provided the option to do face-face classes as soon as the government allows it,” Tanco said.

The iACADEMY said it would observe necessary precautions once the onsite classes resume.

Mass promotion

The iACADEMY administration said it has “made considerate adjustments and have devised means for students to continue that learning.” It stressed that the school’s “mandate is to deliver quality education to our learners.”

“We have to continue to use all means possible to give each and everyone of you the best quality education. We do this in spite of the circumstances,” the school said.

“Given these we cannot go along with the call for mass promotion

We would like you to come out of the institution well-trained and skilled to perform the specifics of your courses as you join the professional world,” it also said.

It concluded that since the school is an institution of game changers, it “cannot let this most game changing event lower our guards and standards.”

Graduation

Tanco also said that the graduation ceremony “is only indefinitely postponed and not canceled.”

She added that the school will find ways to conduct this in accordance with the government’s directives.

Under the enhanced community quarantine, mass gatherings are temporarily prohibited.

Fee refund

For refund, Tanco said the school can only pass on the savings from the operating activities of the school.  credit to its student.

“We have computed this to be an 8% credit on total 3rd trimester fees for College students and a 5% credit on the total second semester fees for Senior High School students, aking into consideration the differing start dates and the differing allocation of expenses of each,” Tanco said.

Graduating students, on the other hand, are advised to contact the finance department for refunds. While continuing students’ refund will be credited on the next term.

“The total refund cost both cash and credit will amount to about (P11,000,000.00) eleven million pesos, equitable distributed according to aforementioned percentages,” iACADEMY said, adding that it would defer collection of tuition fees until June 1.

Employees were also provided salary since the implementation of quarantine.

Meanwhile, Tanco also stressed that the school is not insensitive to the needs and concerns of students.

Tanco apologized to Montoya following the alleged verbal harassment he experienced from a staff. She said that as president, she does not tolerate this and already called to investigate the matter.

“I apologize to Mr. Montoya for whatever inconvenience this issue may have caused him. I laud him, the student council and others who made an effort to bridge the student concerns to the administration especially those who have bravely expressed their sentiments be it for or against the institution,” she added.

Filipino students’ concerns 

Student organizations from the University of the Philippines, the University of Santo Tomas and other universities and colleges have also previously launched online campaigns to suspend the online class programs and end the semester, citing that such activities are no longer conducive during the health crisis. 

A Twitter shared a video that showed the struggles of a student from Mapua University to pass the semester. She shared that she had to climb a mountain for a finals late night.

“I am just one of those Filipino students trying to learn despite these present adversities,” Franz Berdida said, adding that she did not mean to denigrate any person or entity.

Berdida also said she would continue “to comply and learn, regardless how hard it is.”

Her video had since made rounds more than 4,000 times and has over 200,000 views on the microblogging platform.