‘Free tuition won’t benefit the poor’
The P8.3-billion budget for a tuition-free schooling in state universities and colleges (SUCs) this year will be enjoyed mostly by moneyed and “nonpoor” students as only 8 percent of the poor are enrolled in college, according to the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd).
In an interview with Winnie Monsod’s “Bawal ang Pasaway kay Mareng Winnie” aired on GMA News TV, CHEd Chair Patricia Licuanan said the commission was studying carefully how to implement free tuition so that the poor will be the primary beneficiaries.
“We are very supportive of anything that would expand access to higher education and any infusion of large amounts of money to higher education, we welcome,” said Licuanan on the show aired on Monday night.
“But having said that, there are some issues and concerns… The poorest of the poor are not yet in college. They have been knocked out long ago and enrollment of the poorest quintile in higher education is only 8 percent. So it’s not going to benefit the poor,” she said.
Senators have successfully appropriated an additional P8.3-billion fund for CHEd to the proposed P3.35-trillion 2017 national budget to finance the tuition of all students in 114 SUCs nationwide.
Licuanan said that if CHEd had its way, the subsidized tuition will start with the “poorest segments” before working its way up to benefit the “nonpoor.” “But we don’t know how yet,” she said.
She also noted that the P8.3-billion budget infusion was insufficient given that the estimates were derived from the calculated income of the SUCs for 2017 when enrollment was at an “all-time low” due to the implementation of the senior high school program.
“All the graduates last year are in senior high school. They will only enter college in 2018,” she said.
The commission would need at least twice the current amount or around P16 billion for a tuition-free tertiary schooling in the country when enrollment in the SUCs have normalized, said Licuanan.