MANILA — The free college tuition program or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education suffered a 2.2-percent drop in its funding in the 2023 national budget being deliberated by the House of Representatives.
"The Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education (UAQTE) is CHED’s biggest sub-program and is proposed to be allocated with P25.8 billion, a reduction of 2.2% from the current year’s approved funding of P26.3 billion," the House of Representatives Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department said in its budget briefer.
CHED will have a P30.7 billion budget in 2023, lower by P2 billion or 6.2 percent compared to its 2022 budget.
The CHED's Higher Education Development Program gets P29.3 billion. The free tuition policy is under this program.
For the sponsor of the agency's budget during the plenary deliberations in the House, the funding reduction for the free tuition is a "mild slap" on the agency.
"The pandemic actually paved the way for many students to transfer from private institutions to government institutions. With this, the 2.2% reduction in UAQTE, is a mild slap to the Commission on Higher Education," Iloilo 1st District Rep. Janette Garin said.
"The commission is doing its best to look at opportunities by which avenues will be generated so that no students will be refused education," she added.
Garin said over 2 million students have availed of free higher education for the academic year 2021-2022.