ISSUE: Wheter or not the That Mandamus will not lie to compel the respondents to enroll petitioning students because of their academic deficiencies and that this refusal of respondent university falls within its right to do so under the academic freedom clause o
FACTS: Private respondents Antonio Marco Ho, Ma. Elaine Magante, Roy D. Sancho, Michael Kim So and Bernardita Cainoy were third year Nursing students of petitioner University of San Agustin (USA) who were refused re-admission in the summer classes of 1989 and last two semesters of school year 1989-1990 on the alleged ground that they failed to obtain grades of not lower than 80% in Nursing 104 (Nursing Practice II With Related Learning Experience). Its persistent refusal to re-admit them prejudiced their right to freely choose their field of study and finish a college degree and worse, no other school within the city and nearby areas is willing to accept them due to the difference in the curriculum and school residency requirement. Thus, they filed a petition for mandamus before the Regional Trial Court of Iloilo City, to command petitioner USA to re-admit them. Aside from the prayer for re-admission, they also prayed for actual and moral damages in the amount of P50,000.00 for each of them. Submitting a joint answer to the petition, petitioner USA and the other petitioners, Dean Concepcion Cajilig and Clinical Instructors Nenalyn Abioda, Mary Espino, Rhodora Azucena, Ma. Dulce Socorro Posa and Cosette Monteblanco admitted having barred private respondents from finishing their Nursing course but justified the decision not to re-admit them as being in pursuance of the school's policy that only students with grades of at least 80% in any major Nursing subject, including Nursing 104, and two minor subjects, are allowed enrollment in the following year. Private respondents were duly informed and forewarned of their below 80% performance rating. To buttress petitioners' stance, they placed reliance on Section 9(2) of the Education Act of 1982 (B.P. Blg. 232) which recognizes the right of students to freely choose their field of study subject to existing curricula, and to continue their course up to graduation, except in cases of academic deficiency or violation of disciplinary regulations; and Section 13(2) thereof vesting in institutions of higher learning the right to determine on academic grounds who shall be admitted to study, who may teach, and what shall be the subjects of study and research.Additionally, petitioners contended that private respondents have no cause of action for mandamus under the premises because there is no clear and well-defined right of the latter which has been violated neither do the former have a corresponding ministerial duty to re-admit them, since petitioner USA is a private educational institution not performing public functions and duties. Under the Manual of Regulations for Private Schools, petitioner USA enjoys the right to academic freedom.
RATIO DECIDENDI: Equally mandated by Article XIV, Section 5(2) of the 1987 Constitution is that academic freedom shall be enjoyed in all institutions of higher learning. Academic freedom of educational institutions has been defined as the right of the school or college to decide for itself, its aims and objectives, and how best to attain them - free from outside coercion or interference save possibly when the overriding public welfare calls for some restraint. It has a wide sphere of autonomy certainly extending to the choice of students. Said constitutional provision is not to be construed in a niggardly manner or in a grudging fashion. That would be to frustrate its purpose and nullify its intent.