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CHEd, UniFAST heed EDCOM 2 call to prioritize poorest of the poor for the Tertiary Education Subsidy


The Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) and the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) will be prioritizing the poorest students receiving the Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES) for the school year 2024-2025. 

In a motu propio hearing on the implementation of RA 10931 (Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act) of the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education, CHEd acknowledged that the move was in response to the Second Congressional Commission’s (EDCOM 2) recommendation to prioritize the “poorest of the poor”, published in its Year One Report. 

“Between 2018 and 2022, the share of the poorest of the poor (Listahanan 2.0 and Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries) in the subsidy declined drastically, from 74% to 31%”, the report read. 

“Dumadami po ng dumadami ang proportion ng grantees that were under private HEIs in cities/municipalities with no existing State and Local Universities and Colleges (PNSL)…ito yung mga hindi necessarily poorest of the poor pero dahil nasa isang HEI na no SUC (state university or college) or LUC (local university or college), automatically deemed as TES beneficiaries. Meanwhile we are inquiring with UNIFAST how many qualified 4Ps and Listahanan students were turned away because of this interpretation of the law”, EDCOM 2 Executive Director Dr. Karol Mark Yee said. 

Yee was referring to the PNSL category – students residing and studying in private HEIs in locales with no existing state and local universities and colleges. The EDCOM 2 Year One report also found that the proportion of students under this category had grown from 26% in 2018, to 69% in 2022. 

“My position always has been – that the PNSL comes after the poor have been exhausted. We couldn’t find consensus [in the UNIFAST Board and during the crafting of the IRR]…Now moving forward, if it is the sense of Congress and EDCOM to instruct the UNIFAST board to correct or revise the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) consistent with the interpretation, the prioritization should be the poor first vs everyone else. I would be very happy to bring it up to the UNIFAST board to amend the IRR”, CHEd Chairman Dr. Prospero de Vera said. 

Dr. Yee pointed out that, in line with EDCOM 2 recommendations, there is a special provision in the General Appropriations Act for 2024 that reemphasized the prioritization of students from Listahanan 2.0 and 4Ps. 

“We would like to thank Chair Popoy and UniFAST for the swift action following the conversations last year on the findings of EDCOM when it comes to the TES beneficiaries”, he said. 

Push to allow dual citizens to teach in public HEIs

During the same hearing, the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education, chaired by EDCOM 2 Co-Chairperson Rep. Mark Go, also approved a measure allowing dual citizens to teach in public higher education institutions. 

House Bill 10251 seeks to amend Section 5(3) of Republic Act 9225, or the Citizenship Retention and Re-Acquisition Act of 2003. 

In discussions around internationalization of higher education, Dr. Yee also mentioned that restrictive immigration policies were a deterrent to professionals and experts wishing to teach in the country. He also cited that this was in contrast with the practices of other countries such as Singapore and Hong Kong, which leveraged their global diaspora, recruiting them home to improve the quality of their universities.  

“One potential source of increasing human resources is the naturalized Filipinos in other countries who have re-acquired their citizenship by virtue of RA 9225”, Rep. Go said. 

“Should this requirement of law be amended, many dual citizens will be enticed to work for the government. Their knowledge and expertise when used and applied in the Philippines will certainly help solve the critical challenges in advancing excellent education, research, and innovation”, he continued. 

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