Proposed legislation on Free Private Higher Education submitted by COCOPEA to legislators through Sen. Paulo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV on 23 January 2017. Please see “COCOPEA to Sen. Bam Aquino on Free Private Higher Education”
SEVENTEENTH CONGRESS OF THE )
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES )
First Regular Session
S E N A T E
S.B. No. _____
Introduced by Senator ____
PROVIDING FOR FREE HIGHER EDUCATION FOR STUDENTS ENROLLED IN PRIVATE HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS, AND CREATING THE FREE HIGHER EDUCATION VOUCHER SYSTEM, AND APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFOR
Be it enacted by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress assembled:
SECTION 1. Short Title. – This Act shall be known as the “Free Private Higher Education Act of 2017.”
SECTION 2. Declaration of Policy. –The State shall establish, maintain, and support a complete, adequate, and integrated system of education for all on all levels relevant to the needs of the people and society where public and private higher education institutions operate in complementarity. Higher Education as a major force for social and economic transformation, must be made accessible to the qualified and deserving students; and integrated across varying missions of educational institutions in both public and private sectors. This Act, complementing the Free Higher Education Act for Students in State Universities and Colleges, shall aim to:
1) Stimulate the social and cultural transformation of the society in line with the national development plan and Ambisyon Natin 2040;
2) Accelerate innovation and inclusive economic prosperity; and
3) Support the private education sector in the complementary role it plays relative to SUCs in providing higher education for all in the Philippines.
Therefore, in line with the State’s constitutionally mandated duty to make quality education accessible to all and as its top budgetary priority, free higher education is hereby mandated for higher educational programs, both in public and private HEIS for qualified but economically marginalized students, that directly implement the foregoing aims.
SECTION 3. Higher Education Voucher System (HEVS)– There shall be a higher education voucher system for qualified students under this Free Private Higher Education Act. The Higher Education Voucher (HEV) shall entitle the holder to free higher education plus support for educational costs and living allowances in any participating Private Higher Education Institution (PHEI).
SECTION 4. Definition of Terms. – As used un this Act, these terms shall mean:
- Cost of Higher Education refers to (1) tuition, and other School Fees, (2) Educational Expenses, and (3) the cost of living allowance;
- Educational Expenses refer to expenses related to the education of a student, such as books, school supplies, and electronic devices necessary for education, but excluding tuition and miscellaneous and Other School Fees;
- Higher Education refers to the stage of formal education, or its equivalent, requiring completion of secondary education and covering programs of study leading to bachelor and advanced degrees;
- Higher Education Institution (HEI) refers to an institution of higher learning, primarily offering bachelor and advanced degree programs;
- Other School Fees refer to those fees which cover other necessary costs supportive of instruction, including, but not limited to, medical and dental, athletic, library, laboratory, and miscellaneous fees;
- State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) refer to public HEIs established by national laws which are financed and maintained by the national government, and are governed by their respective independent boards of trustees or regents;
- Technical-Vocational Education and Training (TVET) refers to the post-secondary education or training process which involves, in addition to general education, the study of technical and related fields and the acquisition of practical skills relating to occupations in various sectors, comprising formal (organized programs as part of the school systems) and nonformal (organized classes outside the school system) approaches;
- Technical-Vocational Institutes (TVIs) refer to learning institutions offering post-secondary TVET
- Tertiary Education refers to the stage of education following the secondary cycle which subsumes post-secondary nondegree diploma, TVET, and Higher Education programs; and
- Tuition Fee refers to the fee representing direct costs of instruction, training and other related activities and for the students’ use of the instruction and training facilities;
- Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) refers to the harmonized, state-run and administered system of Higher Education and technical-vocational Scholarships, Grants-in-Aid, Student Loans, and other modalities of StuFAP created by Republic Act No 10867;
- Student Financial Assistance Program (StuFAP) refers to a system of Scholarships, Grants-in-Aid, Student Loans, subsidies and other incentives which are or shall be made available to eligible students;
- Grant-in-Aid refers to a modality of financial assistance to poor but eligible students which generally requires a minimum level of competence to complete Tertiary Education;
- Scholarship refers to a modality of financial assistance given to eligible students on the basis of merit and/or talent, such as laudable academic performance, and special technical proficiencies and skills and intellectual pursuits of a Scholar that give rise to research and development, and innovations as well as other creative works;
- Student Loan refers to a modality of student financial assistance consisting of short-term or long-term loans which shall be extended to students facing liquidity problems, regardless of economic status, which shall be paid by the student, his/her parents, guardians, or co-makers;
SECTION 5. Implementing Agency. The Unifast Board shall be the lead agency tasked, in consultation with multi-sectoral representatives which includes the academe and industry, to:
- Identify the private higher educational programs that will be covered by this Act;
- Provide the guidelines in the selection and recognition of participating PHEIs to implement the HEVs and ensure equal opportunity and access of the participating educational institutions thereto;
- Provide the guidelines or criteria for qualified but needy students to receive free higher education vouchers;
- Administer the Free Private Higher Education Voucher System; and
- To manage the Free Private Higher Education Fund.
SECTION 6. Free Private Higher Education Fund. – The Free Private Higher Education Fund, hereinafter referred to as the Fund, is hereby established. The Fund shall be used solely for the purpose of implementing the PHEVS under the provisions of this Act.
SECTION 7. Free Private Higher Education Voucher Value– A multi-agency body composed of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), Coordinating Council of Private Education Associations (COOPEA), and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) shall be tasked to determine the FPHEV values and the PHEV slots across the regions based on a set of criteria which shall include, among others:
- tuition charged by the participating PHEIs;
- the quality level of the PHEI based on its culture of quality assurance;
- the manpower requirements of the national development plan and Ambisyon Natin 2040;
- the socioeconomic needs of each region,
- the academic qualifications and the financial needs of the students,
- the financial needs of the PHEIs, and
- the geographic spread and size of student population.
The PHEV values shall be subject to change upon periodic review of the body and after due consultation.
SECTION 8. Exclusion from Gross Income of PHEIs – The PHEV grants used solely, directly, and exclusively for education purposes shall be excluded from the gross income of PHEIs and shall not be taxed or subject to any imposition.
SECTION 9. Coverage of Subsidy. The amount of subsidy through the PHEV shall cover the full cost of education. No other collections shall be required of the students.
SECTION 10. Other restrictions. The grants under FPHEVS received by the participating PHEI shall be used solely, directly, and exclusively for education purposes. No part of the grant shall inure to the personal benefit of any officer, director, member of the board, and/or administrator of the participating institutions.
Section 11. Reportorial requirements. Subject to the rules of the Unifast Board, each participating institution is mandated to submit an annual report on the status of the grantees, and the allocation and/or utilization of grants received under this Act.
SECTION 12. Appropriations. – The amount of Twenty Billion Pesos (P20,000,000,000) is hereby initially appropriated from the Presidential Social Fund to implement the provision of this Act. Thereafter, such amount necessary to effectively carry out the provisions of this Act shall be included in the annual General Appropriations Act.
SECTION. 13. Implementing Rules and Regulations. – Within sixty (60) days from the effectivity of this Act, the PEAC-FAPE shall promulgate the implementing rules and regulations necessary for the implementation of this Act.
SECTION. 14. Separability Clause. – Should any provision herein be declared unconstitutional, the same shall not affect the validity of the other provisions of this Act.
SECTION. 15. Repealing Clause. – All laws, decrees, orders, rules and regulations, or other issuances or parts inconsistent with the provisions of this Act are hereby repealed or modified accordingly.
SECTION. 16. Effectivity Clause. – This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days after its publication in the Official Gazette or in two (2) newspapers of general circulation in the Philippines.