Amidst growing concerns over the financial health of private higher education institutions, the House Senior Deputy Minority Leader and Representative of Northern Samar, Paul Ruiz Daza, called on the government on Wednesday to pay the Tertiary Education student subsidy dues owed to these schools. He stressed that this immediate action is necessary to prevent these educational establishments from shutting their doors permanently.
Daza spoke fervently at a press conference, bringing attention to the fact that numerous private colleges are eligible for the Tertiary Education Subsidy. This subsidy, established under a 2017 law, was also designed to financially support disadvantaged students in private colleges. Daza highlighted that these institutions had been waiting for a significant sum of around P6 billion accruing over the past two years.
Therefore, Daza urged the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to expedite settling these dues. He suggested utilizing the P10.1 billion allocated for the Higher Education Development Fund to reimburse private colleges immediately.
A separate press release from Daza’s office underscored the dire state of student retention in higher educational institutions. According to the most recent CHED data, the attrition rate for Academic Years 2017-2021 surged to 47.61% across all Higher Education Institution categories (State, Local, and Private). This figure denotes a steep 9.78% increase from the attrition rate of 37.83% recorded for the Academic Years 2016-2021.
Daza expressed his regret and sadness over these figures, stating, “We have the funds to change this. The question now is, does CHED and DBM have the will to do what must be done?” He implored the DBM and the nation’s economic managers to immediately compensate the private colleges, many of which are on the brink of closure. Additionally, he called for an increase in CHED’s TES allocation for the 2024 budget year.
Former President Rodrigo Duterte enacted the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act (Republic Act 10931) on August 3, 2017. This law mandated free college tuition in State Universities and Colleges (SUCs). This initiative has helped countless students pursue their dreams of higher education. However, private institutions have been sidelined in the process.
The law’s current implementation needs to fully support private colleges in providing quality education and meeting the rising demand in areas where public universities cannot cope. These institutions have been grappling with financial difficulties, mainly because the government still needs to disburse subsidies to aid underprivileged students in these private colleges. Daza’s call to action, therefore, seeks to rectify this situation and ensure a fair and resilient tertiary education system across the nation.
The current state of affairs presents an urgent call to action for the government to ensure the sustainability of private educational institutions. If the government acts promptly, it will preserve the variety and diversity of higher education in the country and uphold the right to education for all students, regardless of their socioeconomic background. However, the ultimate question remains – will CHED and DBM step up to this critical task?