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CHED launches guidelines for free higher education law implementation

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) on Monday formally launched the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the law providing free higher education for students enrolled in state universities and colleges (SUCs) and local universities and colleges (LUCs).

The launching of the IRR came seven months after President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law Republic Act 10931, or the "Universal Access to Quality Education Act," which will take effect in academic year 2018-2019.

The IRR, which the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) Board also signed on Monday, provides the guidelines for the implementation of RA 10931.

The guidelines state that all Filipino students enrolled in SUCs, LUCs and technical-vocational schools will be exempted in paying tuition and other school fees such as miscellaneous fees.

Miscellaneous fees for SUC, LUC students covered by the law include:

  • library fees
  • computer fees
  • laboratory fees
  • school ID fees
  • athletic fees
  • admission fees
  • development fees
  • guidance fees
  • handbook fees
  • entrance fees
  • registration fees
  • medical and dental fees
  • cultural fees

Technical-vocational school students, on the other hand, will receive benefits under the law such as:

  • consumables
  • cost of utilities
  • cost of facilities, equipment and tools maintenance
  • honorarium of trainers
  • living allowance
  • miscellaneous fees
  • National Competency Assessment Fee
  • instructional materials allowance
  • starter toolkit

Students enrolled in private higher education institutions may also avail of tertiary education subsidy covering tuition and other school fees, while a student loan program will also be established for Filipino students to further support the cost of tertiary education.

The IRR also provides that all students with financial capacity may opt out of the benefits they will receive under the law.

CHED officer-in-charge Prospero De Vera III pointed out that in order for students to continuously benefit from the provisions of the law, they must meet the admission and retention requirements of their respective educational institutions.

"This is not a license to accept everyone to universities and colleges. This is for students who are in good standing, meaning they passed the admission and retention requirements of the universities, they finish their degree on time and they are enrolled in the required number of units per year," he said in an ambush interview after the event.

"If you are kicked out, then you stop receiving government subsidy because you did not comply with the retention requirements of the university," he added.

A total of P40 billion have been allocated for the implementation of RA 10931, broken down for free higher education (P16 billion), free technical vocational education (P7 billion), tertiary education subsidy (P15.9 billion), student loan program (P1 billion) and tertiary education tracking and reporting system (P11 million).

The formal launching of the IRR was attended by lawmakers who championed and supported the enactment of the law, including Senators Ralph Recto, Bam Aquino, Sonny Angara and Representatives Karlo Nograles and Evelina Escudero.

"What we basically achieve with this law is to really have a situation where... ni isang piso, wala kayong binayad sa ating gobyerno in the public school system," Aquino said in his speech.

"In 2018, we can safely say that that reform is finally available to our Filipino people and yun siguro ang isang napakalaking reporma ng batas na ito at napakalaking pangarap," he added. —ALG/NB, GMA News