Recto : Walang ‘forever’ sa Free Public College Tuition law

The newly-signed Free Public College Tuition Law sets stringent conditions for the enjoyment of free matriculation, such as mandating the student to complete the course during the prescribed period.

"Walang forever na student sa batas na ito," said Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, an author of Republic Act 10931.

"Those who are magnas (italicized) or magna na-nine years na sa isang kurso, hindi pwede mag-avail ng free tuition," Recto said.

The law even sets a "one-strike rule" for public technological-vocational students, Recto said.

Under Section 6 of RA 10931, a student in a state-run technical vocational institutes (TVIs) loses the privilege if he fails "in any course."

For students in national government-run state universities and colleges (SUC) and local government-funded local university and colleges (LUCs), they must finish the course "within a year after the period prescribed in their program," Recto said, quoting the law.

"So kung four-year course, may elbow room pa na isang taon, subject to the situations which can be invoked by the students, and if an extension is granted, conditions will apply," Recto said.

"This means a student must maintain good academic standing at all times," he said.

Recto said students who have already attained a bachelor's degree or comparable undergraduate degree from any higher education institution, whether public or private, are also barred from the program.

"The same exclusion rule applies to students of state TVIs. Those who have received a certificate or diploma for a tech-voc course equivalent to at least National Certificate III and above can no longer qualify for free tuition," Recto explained.

But most important, Recto said, is that before a student can avail of free tuition, he must pass the test and admission requirements imposed by the government school, he said.

"One must hurdle the qualifying exam, among others in the acceptance checklist. Free tuition should not be loosely interpreted as it is free to all," Recto said.

Government schools have also requirements to meet before they can receive funds to cover tuition waivers, Recto stressed.

"Kailangan they must follow implementing rules and regulations. There are budgeting, accounting and auditing rules that must be satisfied prior to fund release," he said.

One provision requires schools to establish a learner information system in accordance with the guidelines to be developed by CHED in order to facilitate the tracking of students and their performance, Recto said, citing Sec. 9 of RA 10931.

They must also submit relevant information as determined by CHED on school quality and performance, Recto added.

Pati yung 10-year development plan dapat i-submit para alam ng DBM ang forward-estimates sa gastusin sa equipment at building na kailangan, Recto said.

Kasi nga ang title ng law speaks of Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education. Hindi lang free, dapat fantastic pa, Recto said.

Source: Senate of the Philippines

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