Right and basis in contesting imposition of additional school policies
"I was a graduating student when the school administration changed and a new dean was installed. The dean laid down additional requirements for graduating students that needed to be complied with to pass the course and complete it. Those requirements were not originally in place when I enrolled, and we were belatedly apprised of the same. I did not meet the requirements so my name was not included in the list of graduates. I want to vehemently protest the additional requirements that cost me my degree. Do I have the right and basis to do so?Marv
Dear Marv,It appears that the issue falls within the ambit of academic freedom and an educational institution’s discretion to impose policies to ensure quality education. The Supreme Court had, in many occasions, recognized said
right and its exercise, but clarified that it is not unbridled. In the case of Saint Louis University, Inc. et al. vs. Baby Nellie M. Olairez, et al. (GR 197126, Jan. 19, 2021, Supreme Court First Division Resolution), the Supreme Court stated: “By virtue of academic freedom, schools have a wide discretion in determining its own set of academic policies and this Court has recognized that this matter is within the expertise of educational institutions.The academic institutions are competent to determine whatever parameters, examinations, minimum average grade, or failing limit it will impose on its students and courts will not step in and review decisions which are done in exercise of academic freedom unless there was grave abuse of discretion.
“Nevertheless, an educational institution’s discretion on the exercise of academic freedom is not absolute.Like other constitutional rights, it must on occasion be balanced against important competing interests. xxx”
In the cited Resolution involving a case with similar facts, the Court went further and stated that “SLU acted with grave abuse or patent arbitrariness” in the “sudden imposition of harsher and more punitive requirements to its graduating students in the middle of what was supposed to be their final school year is not as simple and telling respondents and their parents to bear with them.” Moreover, the same Resolution emphasized the following:“[W]hen an academic institution accepts its students for enrollment, there is established a contract between them, resulting in bilateral obligations which both parties are bound to comply with. In this case, the relationship between SLU and respondents was encapsulated in the 2001 Student Handbook which clearly defined the parameters for respondents to obtain their Doctor of Medicine degrees which, as far as their respective official transcripts of records are concerned, they did. SLU’s immediate imposition of the Revised COWE (Comprehensive Written Examination) is capricious and inconsistent with an institution of higher learning’s contractual obligation to afford its students a fair opportunity to complete the course they seek to pursue.”All told, you have the right and basis to contest the imposition of additional policies.We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org"
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"Right and basis in contesting imposition of additional school policies"
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comments. The article was created on 15 September 2021
and updated on 15 September 2021