By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
More Filipino students, particularly those coming from poor families, will now be able to go to college using government support after the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) approved the inclusion of 27 additional Local Universities and Colleges (LUCs) to implement the free tuition law.
CHED Chairperson J. Prospero De Vera III, in a statement, announced that 27 more LUCs have been newly-approved by CHED to implement the Free Higher Education (FHE) and Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES) programs of Republic Act No. 10931, known as Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act starting Academic Year 2019-2020.
Citing Section 3 of RA 10931, De Vera explained that LUCs “must be compliant with the policies, standards and guidelines of the CHED in order to be included in the coverage of the law.” He noted that the 27 LUCs “were evaluated by the Commission and have obtained institutional recognition or full program compliance of CHED policies and standards.”
De Vera, who is also the Unified Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) Governing Board Chairman, reiterated that the CHED remains “committed to fully implement RA 10931 to increase access to higher education so that more Filipino students, particularly those coming from the poor families, can go to college with government support.”
Considered as the “centerpiece social legislation” of the Duterte Administration, De Vera said that there are currently a total of 76 LUCs that are eligible for FHE – 53 in Luzon, nine (9) in Visayas, and 14 in Mindanao.
“The addition of 27 LUCs will increase the number of public Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) for incoming AY 2019-2021 to 111 that will implement FHE,” De Vera said. The National Capital Region (NCR), he added, has the “highest number of CHED-recognized LUCs with seven (7) additional public HEIs,” he added.
De Vera noted that the 523rd Joint Management Committee and Commission en Banc (CEB) Meeting of CHED approved the list of institutions recommended by its Office of Institutional Quality Assurance and Governance (OIQAG) – subject to the existing laws, policies, guidelines and implementing rules and regulations governing the programs under RA 10931.
Under the CEB Resolution No. 247-2019, the 27 newly CHED-recognized LUCs are Dr. Filemon C. Aguilar Memorial College of Las Piñas, Navotas Polytechnic College, City of Malabon University, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Pasig, Valenzuela City Polytechnic College, Pateros Technological College and Taguig City University in NCR; Gordon College in Region III; One Cainta College in Region IV; Tiwi Community College in Region V; Bacolod City College in Region VI; Mandaue City College in Region VII; Cordova Public College, Talisay City College, Madridejos Community College, Consolacion Community College, Lapu-Lapu City College, and Talibon Polytechnic College in Region VII; Burauen Community College, Abuyog Community College, and Colegio De Las Navas in Region VII; Community College of Gingoog City, El Salvador City College, Salay College of Arts and Sciences, Tubod College, and Don Carlos Polytechnic College in Region X; and Sto. Tomas College of Agriculture Sciences and Technology in Region XI.
De Vera explained that the FHE provision “covers all Filipino students who are either currently enrolled at the time of its effectivity, or shall enroll at any time thereafter, in courses leading to a bachelor’s degree” in any State Universities and Colleges and CHED-recognized LUCs. CHED, he added, will “continue to monitor the compliance of these LUCs with respect to their operation as an HEI and the offering of programs, and assist them as needed to ensure that they will provide quality education.”
Signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte in 2017, the RA 10931 provides free higher education which will cover tuition, miscellaneous, and other fees in SUCs and CHED-recognized LUCs; a Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES); free Technical-Vocational Education and Training (TVET) for those enrolled in state-run Technical Vocational Institutions, and a Student Loan Program (SLP).