House Approves Bill Expanding Tertiary Education Subsidy in Private Higher Education Institutions
The House of Representatives approved the third and final reading of House Bill 7922 which seeks to establish a voucher system for poor and academically qualified students enrolled in private colleges, universities, and technical-vocational institutions with 265 votes in the affirmative, 0 negative votes, and four abstentions.
Once passed into law, the bill will expand the coverage of the tertiary education subsidy (TES) under RA 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education.
The bill seeks a proportional budgetary allocation for the portable voucher system to support these financially challenged yet academically qualified students so they can opt to study in private tertiary institutions, especially in cities and municipalities with existing local and state universities and colleges, as well as state technical-vocational institutions.
The Unified Student Financial Assistance for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) Board will determine the eligibility of students applying for these vouchers based on economic and academic qualifications at the start of each academic year.
Current TES beneficiaries shall continue to receive such benefits or subsidies until they complete their postsecondary technical-vocational course or higher education degree program, provided that they comply with their program’s residency requirements.
Baguio City Rep. Mark Go, the bill’s author, said that this bill is crucial in order to ensure that no student is left behind due to the inadequate capacity of local and state universities and colleges to accept them. Rep. Go also added that the range of courses or degrees offered in each public HEI limits the options of students in need of government subsidy.
“In the latest data, there were 2,082,868 students enrolled in 249 public HEIs. Data from CHED showed that there are more than 1,700 private HEIs in the country and yet, they are serving only about 2 million students out of the more than four million college students. Much of these private HEIs can absorb the students, particularly those constrained by geographical factors,” Rep. Go said.
The bill is set to be transmitted to the Senate.### (PR)