After a few bumps and starts, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) promised that they would release the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) and fully implement free higher education law in state-funded colleges and universities this 2018.
The enhanced IRR of Republic Act 10931 will include free higher education, free technical vocational education and training, tertiary education subsidy, and the student loan program for both short- and long-term loans. UniFAST (Unified Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education) will be the implementing board of this policy.
The government has announced that it has allotted P40 billion this year for public tertiary institutions, and scholarships and loans for private colleges and universities.
However, there are groups that remain skeptical of the proposed law. According to Free Eduk Watch convenor Shara Landicho, it is still unclear which local colleges and universities (LUCs) will be covered by the law. Only LUCs accredited by CHED will offer free higher education to students.
Free Eduk Watch added that only 23 out of 118 LUCs are accredited by CHED, based on the latest data.
The group also noted the restrictions of the law, including requirements to pass the entrance and retention policies, as well as to finish the degree one year after the prescribed period.
Meanwhile, colleges and universities that implemented the free tuition policy for the first semester of the academic year 2017-2018 have received their reimbursement from the P8.3-billion allocation in the 2017 budget.
According to CHED officer-in-charge J. Prospero de Vera, the free tuition covered 888,799 students.