MANILA -- The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) is reviving the push for a legislation that would require “return service” from students of public universities and colleges.
CHED Chairperson Prospero de Vera issued the recommendation during the alignment meeting of the Second Congressional Commission on Education with CHED.
“Since public universities are now free, we would request that the Commission to discuss seriously return service requirements for getting free education,” he told lawmakers.
“The power to require return service is an explicit power of the boards of state universities and colleges, but that is discretionary on their part. The mechanism on how to require this in public universities is not very clear under existing laws. We tried to put this in the IRR of RA 10931, but we were not successful in implementing it. We would recommend that this be taken up seriously by the education commission,” De Vera added.
He noted that the acceptance rate in several SUCs declined to less than half of applicants as more students apply, and many are from “relatively higher income households”.
“That has to be studied. It has impacted private schools because there is a significant shift in the desire of students to get education by applying to public universities… Those who pass the admission test are those who are better prepared to take the exam, those who come from relatively higher income households, those who have funds for review classes,” De Vera said.
“Maybe we should ask the question of whether this is the role that national universities or public universities should play. We are pushing for discussion on affirmative action that public universities must play to ensure that students from public universities, from indigenous communities, from far-flung areas and marginalized communities can be assisted so that they can get into higher education,” he suggested.
CHED recorded an improvement in access to higher education, which De Vera said reached 41% from less than 30% a few years back.
DEFINE ACADEMIC FREEDOM
De Vera also recommended that academic freedom be defined by EDCOM II through a legislation, noting that it continues to be a challenge in higher education.
"We’d also like to recommend to the commission, key priority areas and issues that can be included under any of the headings or discussed separately. One is the definition of academic freedom. This continues to be a concern as well as a challenge in higher education,” he said.
“After the selection of the chancellor of UP Diliman was subjected to what is called academic freedom. We’d like to discuss and take this up. Not only in the context of the university itself, but in the governance of universities. This is very challenging for many boards of state universities and colleges,” De Vera added. He was referring to the recent selection of the UP Diliman chancellor, which sparked tension.
EDCOM II was created through Republic Act 11899 in July 2022 to conduct a comprehensive national assessment and evaluation of the performance of the Philippine education sector, for the purpose of recommending reforms to help the country be globally competitive in both education and labor markets.
CHED outlined its priorities, which include improving access to quality education, quality assurance, enhancing graduate education, research, and innovation, digital transformation, and education technologies, and internationalization of higher education.