A HOUSE leader has called on the Commission on Higher Education to expedite the accreditation process for local universities and colleges after one of its commissioners had revealed that only 16 of these schools were qualified to become tuition-free in the next academic year.
Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte voiced concern that LUCs might be left out of the benefits of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act or the free college tuition law if only 14 percent out of 111 LUCs were accredited by the CHED.
“We urge LUCs across the country to beef up their standards in terms of providing quality education and have their schools evaluated by the CHED, which should, in turn, speed up this evaluation process to determine the LUCs that can be accredited and can get to enjoy the benefits of the free tuition law by next school year,” Villafuerte said.
Republic Act 10931, or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, provides free tuition and other fees for students in state universities and colleges as well as LUCs and technical-vocational institutions.
SUCs refer to public higher education institutions established by national laws that are financed and maintained by the national government and are governed by their respective independent boards of trustees or regents, while LUCs refer to CHED-accredited tertiary education institutions established and financially supported by local government units.
According to reports quoting CHED commissioner and spokesperson Prospero de Vera III, only 16 LUCs have been accredited by the CHED after passing the Commission’s standards in terms of providing quality tertiary education.
Following the signing into law of RA 10931, at least 60 LUCs have applied for accreditation.
“While the accreditation process needs to be fast-tracked, the CHED should also make sure that the LUCs that get to benefit from the free tuition law truly meet the standards set by the CHED for LUCs in terms of quality of education, so that public funds would not go to waste and our students are ensured of getting the first-rate education they deserve,” Villafuerte said.
The CHED estimated the funds needed to implement the free tuition law next year amount to P20 billion, which only covers the 112 SUCs and the 16 accredited LUCs across the country.
Another P3 billion to P4 billion would be needed to fund the free tuition for TVIs, the lawmaker said.
Villafuerte earlier welcomed reports that government agencies were now working double time on the implementing rules and regulations of the free tuition law.
But he cautioned against coming out with a haphazardly drafted set of IRR that could only lead to delays in implementing this pro-education statute.
He had called on the CHED and other agencies involved in the drafting of the IRR to conduct extensive consultations with all affected stakeholders to ensure that the law would be effectively implemented without hitches starting June next year.