For the third straight year, the country’s 117 state universities and colleges (SUCs) received increases in their budgets to support their constantly growing requirements to provide quality public education to the country’s tertiary students.
Senator Sonny Angara, as Chairman of the Committee on Finance, said the total budget for the SUCs this year amounts to P107 billion, representing a P13.7 billion increase from the P93.3 billion originally submitted by Malacañang under the 2023 National Expenditure Program.
The increase in the budgets of the SUCs will go partly to research, innovation and futures thinking and strategic foresight programs for which each school will be provided with at least P5 million.
It will also be used to finance the increases in the carrying capacities of SUCs with colleges of medicine and nursing, as well as other allied health programs.
“Together with Finance committee senior vice chairperson Pia Cayetano, we worked for these increases in line with our common advocacies of improving the state of education and producing more doctors, nurses and other health care professionals in the Philippines,” Angara said.
During Angara’s tenure as chairman of the Finance Committee, the annual budget for the SUCs have gone up from P73.7 billion in 2020 to P85.9 billion in 2021 and P104.17 billion in 2022.
The 2023 GAA also supports the implementation of Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education (UAQTE) law.
Under the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd), there is a total of P27.1 billion for the UAQTE, which includes P1.6 billion for the Tulong Dunong Program.
For the SUCs, a total of P18.8 billion was allocated for the UAQTE, while the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority received P3.4 billion.
Under Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, which Angara co-authored, tuition and miscellaneous fees in 112 SUCs, 78 LUCs, and all government-run technical-vocational schools nationwide are now free for all students.
A total of P1.5 billion was also provided for Student Financial Assistance Programs of the CHEd, which is provided to poor but deserving students.
Another P200 million was allocated for the Private Education Student Financial Assistance program for poor but deserving students enrolled in private higher educational institutions
Free education, from kindergarten to college, is one of the advocacies of Angara. His father, former Senate President Edgardo Angara was the author of the Free High School Act that ensured secondary school students would be able to complete their education regardless of their family’s financial situation.
Angara is currently a commissioner of the Second Congressional Commission on Education (EDCOM 2) that is undertaking a review of the country’s education system.
In the next three years, EDCOM 2 will come up with solutions to the problems hounding the education sector, including the learning crisis among students, particularly those in grade school.