`OPF schools increased tuition fees unilaterally for three years`
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By Kashif Abbasi | 9/13/2017 12:00:00 AM
ISLAMABAD: Overseas Pakistan Foundation (OPF) educational institutions have been increasing their tuition fees unilaterally for the last three years, the Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) state minister revealed on Thursday.

Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, in a written response during a question hour session, said OPF schools have been increasing their fees without seeking permission from the Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Authority (Peira) a CADD subsidiary.

According to Piera`s rules, the upper limit for monthly fees is Rs8,350 for matriculation, FA and FSc and Rs12,525 for O and A Levels. If schools want to raise their fees beyond the limit, operators have to provide justification to Piera, which in turn will determine its fees.

Dr Chaudhry, who was responding to a question pertaining only to OPF institutions, also revealed that two schools were not registered with the regulator.

`Previously, two institutions of OPF were registered with the PEIRA... OPF Boys College Sector H-8/4, Islamabad. ii.

OPF Girls College Park Road, Sector F-8/2, Islamabad, at present none of the OPF institutions have valid registration,` he stated. Both the institutions` registration expired in 2015, and Dr Chaudhry added that OPF`s management has been asked to apply for the registration of all its campuses in Islamabad.

Sources in Piera said that almost all the schools that charge high fees do not have valid registrations, and are therefore operatingillegally.

Piera Chairman Hasnat Qureshi said: `Yes, OPF has increased its fees beyond the set limit. We have directed them to explain their position, [and] they were also asked to [seek] registration.

Mr Qureshi said seven schools last year also got a stay order from the Islamabad High Court (IHC) barring the regulator from interfering in their fee mat ter.

`Some schools are increasing their fee because of stay orders, but the problem is that some other schools, that do not have any stay orders, also increased their monthly fees.

We have decided to take legal action against them,` he said.

In July, Piera petitioned the Supreme Court against the long stay granted by the IHC in favour of private schools regarding fee increases. The SC last month directed the IHC to fix the case in September for an earlier decision.

According to Piera officials, the Beaconhouse School System, City School System, Roots International, Roots Millennium and Roots School System, Headstart and Lahore Grammar School got stay orders from the IHC regarding their fees.

The Piera chairman also agreed that `almost all elite schools do not have valid registration`. `We have issued notices to them, and after completing legal formalities, we will take action against them,` he said.

In various meetings with CADD officials and the federal education ministry, private school operators argued that Piera had no justification to determine their fees, as they have to meet expenditures.

Meanwhile, parents of students have demanded for over a year that CADD strengthen Piera to implement its notified rules capping schools` fees. They have regularly filed complaints with the regulator against high fees, but to no avail.