Two committees of the House of Representatives approved on Thursday, May 27, the bill that would grant free examinations to graduating high school students applying for admission in state universities and colleges (SUCs).
House Bill No. 647 was approved during a joint hearing of the House committees on higher education and on basic education, chaired by Baguio City Rep. Mark Go and Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo, respectively.
The bill also covers examinations in local universities and colleges (LUCs), and likewise includes high school graduates, college entrants and transferees who are applying for college admission.
All private universities, colleges, or institutions of higher education or degree-granting programs, meanwhile, shall be required to give free entrance exams to underprivileged public high school students belonging to the top 10 percent of the graduating class and who are applying for admission.
The bill proposes a penalty of imprisonment from six months to six years and a fine of P750,000 for higher education institution (HEI) officials found guilty of violating the proposed requirement.
The Commission of Higher Education (CHED) may also impose disciplinary actions against HEI officials or employee found violating the proposed law.
"The House bill...is definitely one appropriate step in making education accessible to all, as this will give equal opportunity for our underpirvileged and deserving high school students to pursue their dream college education," Department of Education Assistant Secretary Alma Torio said during the hearing.
The proposal was also "very much welcomed" by the CHED.