By Merlina Hernando-Malipot and MB Online
If implemented fully, tuition in all state universities and colleges (SUCs) next year will be totally free.
Commission on Higher Education chairperson Patricia Licuanan confirmed on Friday, December 16 that an additional P8.3 billion was added to the commission’s budget for 2017 that will go solely to subsidizing the tuition of over 1.4 million students of SUCs.
“That’s purely for tuition, to purely remove tuition from the student expenses so now we they can say all SUCs will not charge tuition,” Licuanan said.
But she issued a caveat that implementation “will be a little difficult” as CHED has to find the right formula on how to divide the additional budget in the country’s 113 SUCs. “There are challenges like that but we are working on it.”
Senate minority leader Ralph Recto, who sponsored the free public tuition clause in the 2017 national budget, assured the “free tuition fund” will greatly help indigent students in rural and urban areas so they need not “shell out money for basic matriculation.”
Recto also sees no difficulty in disbursing the fund to all public universities and colleges as this will be implemented “wholesale” and not “retail spending.”
He also believes the row inside the commission should not hinder the fund disbursement.
In a statement, Kabataan party-list said that the Filipino youth should celebrate and embrace this “mighty development,” potentially putting the Philippines at par with countries like Norway, Sweden, Finland and Germany where state schools charge no tuition.
“This simple yet game-changing move has shattered the illusion cast by naysayers and conservatives who have long sought division and spread cowardice by saying that this is not possible,” the group said.
Netizens also largely welcomed the news of subsidized tuition.
Free tuition fee for State Universities in the Philippines is approved
— Kish (@kezhiadiezmo) December 16, 2016
Tuition-free education for State Universities and Colleges in 2017, approved by both houses. Way to go, Philippines!
— Dave Henson (@DaLoGoHe) December 16, 2016
Free tuition fees for all SUCs in the Philippines! Finally, Pilipinas!!Thank you
— bhia (@manumbasbea) December 17, 2016
State Universities and Colleges in the Philippines – Free Tuition Approved. SERYOSO?
— renren’s (@renzibells) December 17, 2016
The Philippines just approved free tuition. Lol bye going back to the motherland.
— Sam (@SGIbay) December 16, 2016
But while hailing this a victory, Kabataan said the real challenge is on the schools’ implementation.
While the allocation of P8-billion budget for free tuition in SUCs is a victory, the Partylist said that it should not stop there.
“Immediately, student regents and student trustees in all SUC boards of regents and trustees need to immediately prepare for the implementation of a tuition-free policy,” the party-list urged.
It called for student consultation summits to be conducted by the student councils and student governments, as well as the schools’ regents and trustees.
“We must do everything in our power to have it implemented quickly and with a positive effect on students and the SUC community,” said Kabataan, which is pushing for the legislation of a comprehensive Free Public Education Law in Congress.
Tags: CHED, Commission on Higher Education, free tuition, Kabataan, Manila Bulletin, Patricia Licuanan, Ralph Recto, state universities and colleges, SUC, ‘Free tuition’ in state universities and colleges eyed for 2017