By Chito Chavez
The implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the free higher education law do not expand access to free education in public schools.
The youth group National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) issued the claim as it criticized the IRR insisting that it legitimizes the collection of more fees in state universities and colleges (SUCs).
“Instead of genuinely making education free by abolishing tuition and other school fees altogether, the Duterte government upholds the collection of fees from students in SUCs,” NUSP argued.
The P40-billion funding for the policy is allotted in this manners: P16 billion and P7 billion for free education in SUCs and in technical-vocational programs, respectively; P16 billion for the Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES), from which the tuition and other school fees of students in private higher education institutions (HEIs) can be billed, and; P1 billion for the National Student Loan Program (NSLP.)
NUSP claimed the TES and NSLP are devices for private HEIs to “tap into people’s taxes to secure their profits.”
“Rather than channeling public funds to SUCs so that they can accommodate more free education beneficiaries, the government connived with capitalist educators in preventing the exodus of students from private HEIs to SUCs. That is why they created the TES and NSLP,” claimed NUSP national spokesperson Mark Lim.
The NUSP also criticized the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) for the recently released IRR, which extends the powers of the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) Board, the body mandated to oversee all financial assistance programs offered by the government.
It added the IRR grants the UniFAST Board the power to impose additional restrictions in admitting and retaining students in SUCs by 2020.
Lim said the IRR does not make free public education more available to the youth as it limits enrollment in SUCs.
He added by doing this students will not be driven out of private schools where millions are collected with the perennially increasing fees they charge their students.
“We will continue to demand that CHED declare the collection of tuition and other school fees illegal, refund fees collected from students within this semester, and junk petitions for fee increases in private HEIs,” Lim concluded.