No more tuition for UP students in 2017
■ Arra B. Francia
Students from the entire UP system and other state universities and colleges are set to receive free tuition in academic year 2017 to 2018, after Congress granted the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) an additional budget of P8 billion to fund tuition payments.
CHED Commissioner Patricia Licuanan confirmed that all eight constituents of the university are included in the budget on December 16 during the 1322nd meeting of Board of Regents, where she also acts as chair.
“This is a product of the resolve of the youth, led by progressive organizations and formations, to not undermine our capacity to act as one and go beyond perceived limits in order to fight for what is right,” said Student Regent Raoul Danniel Manuel in a statement.
Tuition scheme still in place
Students of the country’s only national university currently pay as much as P1,500 per unit under the Socialized Tuition System (STS), a bracket-based tuition scheme that measures a student’s capacity to pay based on socioeconomic factors.
Despite the no tuition collection policy in 2017, the UP administration has yet to determine whether they will push through with using STS.
UP President Alfredo Pascual said that abolishing the STS would mean no more funds for stipends of poor students, Manuel said.
“We must intensify our efforts in asserting the right to free and quality education as long as we have administrators who defend income-generating mechanisms in our schools, in line with the neoliberal framework in education,” he added.
The budget allocation does not include miscellaneous fees as well, which would allow school administrators to still collect fees from students. In UP, for instance, miscellaneous fees cost at most P2000 every semester.
Both houses of Congress ratified the General Appropriations Bill on December 13 and 14, which pegs the proposed 2017 national budget at P3.35 trillion, 11 percent higher than in 2016.
The additional budget for CHED has been reallocated from funds initially allocated for development projects for the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Budget deliberations had supposedly reached a deadlock after the lower house refused to accept the Senate’s proposal of reallocating the ARMM funds, according to appropriations committee chair and Davao City Representative Karlo Nograles.
The committee then agreed to the Senate’s proposal so as to avoid having a re-enacted budget.
With this, the proposed budget will now be transmitted to the president for signing into law. The 2017 budget is the first under the Duterte administration. ■
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