No More Free Tuition in 2018? Here's What We Know so Far
Uh-oh! How true is it that the Free Tuition program of the government for State Colleges and Universities (SUC) won't be a thing in 2018 anymore? Here's what we know so far:
Senator Bam Aquino filed four bills to improve Filipinos' access to quality education in the country. One of which was specifically to make tertiary education in all State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) free for all students.
The Congress granted the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) an additional budget of P8 billion for the SUCs in the country to receive free tuition in the academic year 2017-2018.
The Senate approved the bill providing free tuition for students in SUCs.
CHEd posted an update about it, one of which was that the program is under conditional implementation. In short, not all students can avail of it.
A few days after, the office of Sen. Bam Aquino released a press statement that the bill filed for free tuition in all SUCs has passed the Bicam process. "Pirma na lang ng Presidente ang kailangan para maging batas ang Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act," says Sen. Aquino.
Commissioner Prospero de Vera III of CHEd shared a press statement that Doctor of Medicine students in select SUCs can also avail of the free tuition this school year.
Early this month, University of the Philippines Diliman chancellor Michael Tan announced that no tuition fee will be collected from its students during the first semester of academic year 2017-2018. In a statement released to the Philippine Collegian, the uni's official student newspaper, he said, "They are not clear yet as to how much the subsidy there will be, [whether it be] partial or complete, and who will be eligible. Until they clarify, we will not collect any amount from students."
Towards the end of this month, the Manila and Los Banos campuses of UP followed suit, noting that the suspension is applicable to undergraduate students only.
Four days ago, the ACT Teachers Party-List revealed that the Duterte administration has discontinued the funds intended for the program in their 2018 budget proposal.
This means that from this year's P18.7 billion allocation, CHEd's budget would shrink to P12.42 billion next year. Meaning, there's a huge chance that the undergraduate and medical students from SUCS won't be granted free tuition next year anymore.
Meanwhile, the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Bill is currently in the president's office, awaiting his signature. If it remains unsigned in the next 30 days, the bill will lapse into law unless the president vetoes it. Here's hoping he signs it!
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