Tertiary education now in the Philippine context

ON JUNE 13, 2018, the heads of fifteen (15) state colleges and universities (SUCs) and Commission on Higher Education (CHED)-recognized local colleges (LCs) in Region VI signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the CHED and the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST), which was witnessed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte among others, at Malacañang.

This MOA signing will allow the downloading of funds to the SUCs and CHED recognized LUCs so they can avail of the benefits under RA 10931. This Php40-billion “free education program” in the Philippines started this academic year (AY) 2018-2019. The program will accommodate more or less 1.3 million tertiary students enrolled in 112 SUCs and 78 CHED recognized LUCs in the country regardless of the status of family income and courses they take.

It should be noted that on August 3, 2017, President Duterte made history in the Philippine educational system when he signed into law Republic Act No. 10931 known as “Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act 2017.”

This Act gives tertiary students’ access to quality education: free Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET); free Higher Education; Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES); National Student Loan Program (NSLP) and comprehensive student guidance, counseling and career development services. This made the Philippine educational system unique compared to that of the other countries in Asia.

The historical highlights of RA 10931 are that all Filipino undergraduates enrolled in state colleges and universities (SUCs) and CHED-Recognized local colleges and universities (LUCs) shall no longer pay tuition and other school fees for as long as they pass or meet the following criteria:

– meet the admission and retention policies of the institutions;

– have no previous undergraduate degree; and

-are not overstaying in college.

There are 11 SUCs based in Western Visayas – the Aklan State University (ASU), University of Antique (UA), Capiz State University (CAPSU), Northern Iloilo Polytechnic State College (NIPSC), Iloilo State College of Fisheries (ISCOF), ISAT University (ISAT-U), West Visayas State University (WVSU), Guimaras State College (GSC), Carlos Hilado Memorial State College (CAHMSC), Northern Negros State College of Science and Technology (NONESCOST) and Central Philippine State University (CPSU).

The four CHED-recognized local colleges out of 10 in Western Visayas are Iloilo City Community College, Passi City College, Libacao College of Science and Technology and Bago City College.

Republic Act 10931 emphasized “Quality” tertiary education. The CHED is the determining agency that issued Certificate of Program Compliance (COPC) to programs offered by SUCs and Government Authority or Permit and Recognition to programs offered by CHED recognized local colleges. These are the mechanisms of quality higher education. Hence, students are advised to enroll in programs with COPC if offered by SUCs and programs with Government Authority, Permit or Recognition if offered by CHED-recognized local colleges.

On the other hand, more than one-half of the higher education institutions (HEIs) in the region are private schools. Lately, the CHED Regional Office VI reviewed and endorsed to CHED Central Office applications of 34, or 44%, of the total number of private HEIs in the Region to increase tuition and other fees for AY 2018-2019.

The colleges are from Aklan (1), Iloilo City (14), Negros Occidental (8), Roxas City (3), Bacolod City (7), and Iloilo (1).

The average tuition fee increase is 10.35% or Php58.00 per unit. The average other school fees increase is 10.15% or Php88.00. These increases in tuition and other school fees are subject for review and confirmation by the CHED Central Office.

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