Ateneo de Davao University President Fr. Joel Tabora has published in his blog today the official statement of the Coordinating Council for Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA) against legislative proposals seeking to make tuition fees free for Filipino students enrolled in state universities and colleges (SUCs).
“The Coordinating Council for Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA) views with grave concern the currently proposed allocation of some eight billion pesos annually purportedly to improve universal access to higher education, without giving due attention to quality improvement,” reads the first paragraph of the statement.
One of the bills granting free tuition for students in SUCS is the Senate Bill No. 177 or the Free Higher Education for All act filed by Sen. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino.Section 3 of the Senate Bill proposes that Filipino students enrolled in any state university or college shall be exempted from paying tuition fees, provided that they “meet the admission requirements of the SUCs where they enrolled in.”
According to the statement released by COCOPEA, this proposed bill either wastes lives or the taxpayers’ money, as it aims to “either subsidize the higher education of those who can afford to pay for it themselves in quality State Universities and Colleges, like UP, or to subsidize higher education in SUCs that are still struggling to achieve conditions of genuine quality higher education for the students they already have.”
“Providing more access to poor quality institutions is like providing more access to MRTs and LRTs that don’t run, or like putting more refugees on boats that sink from overloading,” COCOPEA expresses.
With this, the said organization proposed ways to maximize allocation of more budget for higher education. This includes supporting the complete, adequate and integrated system of Philippine education; insisting on quality assurance mechanisms that are consistent with the ASEAN Quality Assurance Network and the ASEAN Quality Reference Framework; encouraging the private sector to invest more in quality education, among others.
University President Fr. Joel Tabora, who is also the COCOPEA chair and the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) President, is very vocal with his stand against the proposed bill. In his October 28, 2016 blog entry, Tabora expresses that “throwing more money at the SUCs to give more students access to SUCs may only mean grandly insuring that the poor have funded access to poor quality higher education.”