The Kabataan Party-list has warned that the House bill on financial assistance that gives priority to “poor but deserving students” is being used to justify tuition increase instead of scrapping it altogether.
In a statement, Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Elago vowed to block what she called as “contentious” provision of House Bill 5633 or “An Act Promoting Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education by Providing for Free Tuition and Other School Fees in State Universities and Colleges and State-Run Technical-Vocational Institutions, Strengthening the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education, and Appropriating Funds Therefor.”
“In particular, we will move to: (1) scrap the policy on giving priority to ‘poor but deserving’ students; (2) abolish tuition and other school fees; (3) include graduate students for free education; and (4) scrap the preferential guarantee for private higher educational institutions,” Elago said.
Elago said the policy to prioritize “poor but deserving students” was reminiscent of the University of the Philippines’ “flawed socialized tuition system which was used to mask tuition increases and helped UP amass billions of pesos in profit.”
“The guise of ‘prioritizing the poor’ has been used to legitimize tuition and other school fee increases under the neoliberal framework of gearing SUCs (state universities and colleges) to generate their own income thru socialized tuition schemes, privatization of school services, and utilization of idle assets,” she said.
“Although it’s explicitly stated that no tuition and other school fees will be charged from the students, we’re worried that SUCs might increase tuition and other school fees to get more from the free education subsidy fund. At the same time, they’ll be able to increase collection from graduate students who are not covered by free education. That’s why we are also pushing that graduate students be included for free tuition and other school fees,” Elago added.
The youth solon likewise protested the proposal in the bill to allocate P25 billion for the creation of a National Student Loan Program for students studying in private higher educational institutions (HEIs) and local universities and colleges (LUCs).
Citing high unemployment and underemployment rates, Elago lamented that students would remain indebted even years after graduation as they would not be able to find a stable job to pay for their loans.
“It’s guaranteed profit to private HEIs. It’s akin to the K to 12 voucher program where funds go directly to private schools,” she said./