NUSP: Rules on free college tuition policy akin to ‘socialized tuition system’

Apr. 26, 2017

DAVAO CITY, Philippines— The National Union of Students of the Philippines on Wednesday criticized the implementing rules and regulations for the tuition-free schooling in both state colleges and universities, saying that it is a “socialized tuition system.”

“Learning from the experience of the University of the Philippines, by subjecting students to a competition of “poorest of the poor” to prove their worthiness, this has resulted to the edging out of the poor, by those coming from the upper/middle class who has relative capacity to comply with various requirements imposed by SUCs,” said NUSP National Spokesperson Mark Vincent Lim in a statement sent to media.

On April 20, the Commission on Higher Education and the Department of Budget and Management issued a Joint Memorandum Circular 2017-1 which contains the guidelines on the grant of free tuition in SUCs for fiscal year 2017.

The funding of the government’s “Free Tuition 2017” grant was allotted P8 billion sourced from the Higher Education Support Fund lodged under CHED’s budget this year.

In Davao region, a budget of P 204, 813, 000 will be distributed to five state-owned universities and colleges namely: Compostella Valley State College (P17, 200,000), Davao del Norte State College (P 6, 030,000), Davao Oriental State College of Science and Technology (P 21, 000,000), Southern Philippines Agri-business and Marine and Aquatic School of Technology (P35, 200,000), and University of Southeastern Philippines (P125, 383,000)

It can be recalled that Congress granted CHED an additional budget of P8.3 billion to fund all 114 SUCs in lieu of collecting tuition from 1.4 million students.

NUSP said the special provision on tuition collection in the 2017 General Appropriations Act clearly states that no tuition shall be collected from all SUC undergraduate students in School Year 2017-2018.

It said, however, “President Rodrigo Duterte placed the said provision under conditional implementation saying that financially disadvantaged but academically-able students must be prioritized.”

Under the CHED-DBM circular, it categorically stated that only “academically-able” students— those who pass the academic and retention standards of the SUC— shall be considered qualitied to receive the grant.

Also, under the scheme, students who are recipients of Student Financial Assistance Programs and those who belong to a household that is or was a beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program  will be prioritized. The remaining students eligible will be “ranked according to their per capita household income”, similar in essence to the University of the Philippines’ Socialized Tuition System.

According to CHED’s own calculations, at least 1 million students are expected to enroll for the incoming school year 2017-2018, 85 percent of whom the FTP can only shoulder, with the computation of P9,345 tuition for 42 units per year.

“Since the FTP only covers tuition, students still need to shell out for other school fees (OSF) and expenses. Worse, SUCs administrations could take advantage of the FTP to hike OSF so as to compensate profit loses that will be incurred from the implementation of the policy,” Lim said.

“The targeted implementation of the FTP undermines the right of all citizens to free education regardless of socio-economic status. NUSP strongly opposes a nationwide socialized tuition which translates to profiteering in SUCs nationwide,” he pointed out.

“NUSP calls on the Duterte administration to implement the free tuition policy in state universities and colleges within the framework of free education. The Unions call on all Filipino students and the general public to mount sustained protests nationwide as we endeavor to junk all neoliberal policies, to reclaim the public character of SUCs, and to institutionalize free public education at all levels,” Lim said. (



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