Nursing is one of the most expensive courses in the country. Government-funded schools offer affordable tuition fees but other expenses remain burdensome to many Filipinos. That’s why specialized courses like nursing are deemed exclusive to those who are well-off. It is for this reason that legislators pushed for the ratification of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act. In 2017, the bill was signed into law and under this mandate, qualified incoming and current students in covered schools can avail of free tertiary education.
The Republic Act No. 10931, popularly known as the Free Tuition Law, was funded P40 billion ($766 million) for the initial implementation. Over 190 government-funded universities, colleges, and technical-vocational schools benefit from the new decree. In fact, five of the top-performing nursing schools in the country are included on the list. In March 2018, the Commission on Higher Education released the implementing rules and regulations in time for the opening of the academic year 2018-2019. These serve as guidelines for beneficiary schools in making necessary amendments and to ensure maximum utilization of the allocated budget.
Students belonging to the marginalized sectors are given top priority by the law. Besides the tuition and other fees subsidy, other expenses namely cost of living, books, school supplies, personal computer or laptop, and the likes are also shouldered by the government. Students enrolled in private schools can also avail of similar grants and student loans. Opt-out and voluntary contribution mechanisms stipulated enable financially-able students to either waive their subsidy or give a specific amount to the school while they enjoy free education. The Free Tuition Law is among the landmark bills passed under the current administration, along with the Mental Health Law, Ease of Doing Business, Expanded Maternity Leave, and Universal Healthcare Law.
The government believes that the state should protect and promote the rights of all students’ rights to quality education at all levels. This law is just one of the many steps taken to improve the Philippine’s educational system and to contribute further to global progress and development.