‘No free tuition for moneyed students’

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Student organizations particularly in state universities and colleges (SUCs) should help the government in ensuring that poor college students would be given priority under the free college education program.

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The call was made over the weekend by Francis Escudero, chairman of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture, who said student organizations that have been demanding free education from the government should also raise their voice against rich students who can afford to pay tuition but are taking advantage of the state’s subsidy for tuition.

He noted that the government budget for education is limited and it is only proper to make sure that student who really cannot afford to pay tuition should be given priority in SUCs as well as local state universities and colleges (LSUCs).

Escudero said student organizations could launch a humiliation campaign and identify rich college students to force them to pay for tuition instead of availing of the free college education program of the government.

President Rodrigo Duterte on August 3 signed Republic Act (RA) 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act that would provide full government subsidy for tuition in SUCs, LSUCs and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority-accredited institutions.

But funds for implementing the law are not included in the 2018 national budget submitted by Malacañang to the House of Representatives.

“We have to make sure that poor students will be able to avail of this program so it will be better if there will be a humiliation campaign or a campaign that those who can afford to pay tuition should pay,” Escudero said.

Parking lots at the state-run University of Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, according to Escudero, is a clear example on how rich students are taking advantage of government subsidy for tuition in SUCs.

“If your father is a congressman and you want to study in UP, then you pay for your tuition,” he said.

Escudero also noted that although the Budget department and the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) could include in the implementing rules and regulations of RA 10931 a provision that would give priority to poor students, it would be better if such move would come from the students themselves.

Students “driving a Porsche going to school” should pay tuition, he said.

Congress is yet to find the source of P30 billion required to cover the tuition of college students enrolled in 114 SUCs, 16 LSUCs and 122 vocational schools in the country for a year.

The House appropriations committee is looking at various scholarship programs being implemented in different SUCs, CHEd and other government agencies as the source of the needed funding.

The plan is to consolidate all scholarship program funds and spend them to bankroll RA 10931.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson is eyeing realignment of “pork-like” allotment in the proposed 2018 national budget, which was submitted by the President to Congress in July.

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