By Veronica Laranjo
To provide information on the Republic Act (RA) 10931 also known as “Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act (UAQTEA)”, Governor Alfonso D. Tan College (GADTC) conducted the orientation and general assembly, August 30.
The representative of the Unified Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) Regional Board in Region X which is located in Cagayan de Oro City served as the resource speaker during the orientation held at Sinanduloy Cultural Center, Tangub City.
“The UAQTEA is a law in the Philippines that institutionalizes free tuition and exemption from other fees in state universities and colleges (SUCs), local universities and colleges (LUCs) in the Philippines,” he said. “The law also foresees subsidies for private higher education institutions. It is intended to give under privileged Filipino students a chance to earn a college degree. It has the full title ‘An Act Promoting Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education by providing for Free Tuition and Other School Fees in State Universities and Colleges, Local Universities and Colleges State-Run Technical Vocational Institutions, Establishing the Tertiary Education Subsidy and Student Loan Program, Strengthening the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education and appropriating Funds Therefor’.”
The speaker discussed the four (4) programs of RA 10931: Free Higher Education in SUCs and LUCs, Free Technical-Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in Post-Secondary Technical-Vocational Institutions (TVIs), Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES) for Filipino Students and Student Loan Program (SLP) for Tertiary Education. He first explained the two (2) programs.
“Let us tackle first the Free Higher Education in SUCs and LUCs which states in Section 4 of the said act that all Filipino students who are either currently enrolled at the time of the effectiveness of the Act, or shall enroll at any time thereafter, in courses leading to a bachelor’s degree in any SUC and LUC shall be exempt from paying tuition and other school fees for units enrolled in,” he said.” In Free TVET in Post-Secondary TVIs, Section says that all Filipino learners who are currently enrolled at the time of the effectiveness of the Act, or shall enroll at any time thereafter, in any TESDA-registered TVET program leading to a non-degree certificate or diploma, including diploma courses and bundled programs, and offered by State-run TVIs (STVIs) shall be eligible for the free TVET provision , provided, that they comply with the admission and retention policies and existing residency rules of the STVIs Post-Secondary State-run TVIs.”
He further elaborated the remaining two (2) programs: TES for Filipino Students and Student Loan Program for Tertiary Education of the UAQTEA through the UniFAST board in the country.
“In Section 7 of RA 10931 which is TES for Filipino Students, it aims to support the cost of tertiary education or ay part or portion thereof, a TES is hereby established for all Filipino students who shall enroll in undergraduate-post—secondary programs of SUCs, LUCs, private higher education institutions and all TVIs,” he said.” The TES shall be administered by the UniFAST Board and the amount necessary to fund the TES shall be included in the budgets of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). The prioritization shall be given to (a) students who are part of households included in the Listahan 2.0, ranked according to the estimated per capita household income, (b) students not part of the Listahan 2.0 ranked according to estimate per capita household income based on submitted documentation of proof of income to be determined by the UniFAST Board. Such prioritization shall not apply to Filipino students in cities and municipalities with no existing SUC or LUC campus. On the other hand, SLP for Tertiary Education which can be read in Section 8 provides that UniFAST may offer short-term or long-term loans and those who availed of the loan during their undergraduate degree may still avail of another cycle of student loan for their pursuit of graduate studies, including medicine and law after they have fully paid the previously availed loan. This is also to support further the cost of tertiary education or any part or portion thereof, a student loan program for tertiary education is hereby established for all Filipino students.
Meanwhile, as an opening remark, Dr. Love H. Falloran, Vice President FOR Academic Affairs, encouraged the Alfonsos not to waste the opportunity to have a free tertiary education through the subsidy from UniFAST.
“You, students, must be thankful because the government has provided you the free tertiary education,” Falloran said. “There are no reasons anymore that you can’t finish your studies because you are enrolled in GADTC which is one of the free colleges. The government is willing to help you, and then you should help yourself too. Don’t disregard this opportunity because in the end, you will rue everything.”