September 24, 2018

On behalf of our 1,484 member schools all over the country, the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines manifests its growing concern in the manner by which the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act (RA 10391) is being implemented, as the same poses a threat to the very existence of Catholic schools, and of private education as a whole.

                                                          In the Philippines, the delivery of education marked by a distinct identity, quality and genuine care for the common good has long been satisfied by private educational institutions, primarily by the establishment of Catholic universities, colleges, schools, many in remote areas. Over time, education became a service provided by both the public and the private educational institutions – operating through symbiotic relationship that hopes to fulfill the “complementarity” provisio
n inscribed in the 1987 Constitution – where the proper contribution of one is enhanced by and conditions the contribution of the other in terms of access, quality, and quality ass urance.

            The objective or RA 10391is laudable, that of making quality education accessible for all. However, the mechanisms implementing the law make “accessible quality education for all” more of an empty slogan rather than a reality.

            For one, despite the constitutional mandate that the budget for education be given the utmost priority – the State canot as yet, and arguably can never afford quality higher education for all. Regardless of whatever amount has been allotted to education in the General Approrpiations Act, this budget is still limited in scope and cannot realistically serve the demands that will e=inevitably increase on account of the lure of “free higher education in SUCs and LCU’ provided by RA 10391.

            As the demand for higher education become stronger, the State will be increasingly unable to afford the provision of “quality” higher education for all. (Falsely, the impression given is that it can.)

            This is all the more true because the current policy admission to public HEIs irrationally makes free education accessible to the wealthy, to those who could enroll in private HEIs. It is truly sad and ridiculous reality to witness that those who right fully deserve free higher education on account of their economic or ethnic circumstance (as envisioned by RA 10391 – or event by the “misplaced” HB 181 authored by Rep. Crisologo) are deprived of their right to do so simply because there are not enough slots in SUCs.

            How can a state university fulfill its mandate of educating “iskolars ng bayan” when spaces allotted for them are co-opted by students whose wealthy parents would rather give their children cars or vacations abroad upon being accepted to free SUC like UP rather than pay tuition for education in private HEIs.

            Meanwhile, the choice of sending such a student to a SUC instead of a private HEI, institutionalized by the “free education for all in SUCs as provided by ra 10391” creates ripple effects.

            In Metro Manila, as reported during our meeting with Dr. J. Prospero E. De Vera III, CHED Chairperson, last 15 July 2018, private schools along university belts have experienced lower student enrollees. Only about 60-70% based from their 2015-2016 enrollment data has been met in terms of number of enrollees this school year.

            In the Visayas, one of our top performing member schools in Cebu is experiencing a low enrollment turnout as well as a migration of their students to the nearest competing State University. In their School of Education, none of the six programs has a viable class size. For Engineering, there was a general decline in their technology programs because a nearby SUC has parallel programs. These departments might soon run the risk of closure if the patterns persists. The case is similarly experienced by other private schools in Region 7.

            In Mindanao, consider the case of one university in Region 10, also a CEAP member-school. 5 of their 7 colleges registered decreases in enrollment. All these colleges offer programs which compete with SUCs in the Region 10. Agriculture (-32%); Business & Management (-18%); Education (-57%). In spite of this university being among the Top 10 Performing Schools for LET nationwide; Engineering (-18%); and Computer Studies (-6%). Moreover, this SY 2018-2019, this university has less freshmen (2,008) than 4th year (2,257), less than 8%, when normally it should be the other way around because of retention – which trend is considerable cause for concern as this may become the trend and UAQTE will kill private HEIs softly and slowly.

            Not only are the so called “big schools” affected. More importantly, our small member schools in Malaybalay City (whose campus is located near a state university) are facing the threat of closure – their expected freshmen enrollment of 500 students after the lull of two school years was not realized. For this school year 2018-2019, they only have 150 freshmen in all of their 23 programs or a decrease of 70%. If this decrease in freshmen enrollment will continue to be so for the next school year, there would come a school year that this small school will only have 100 students more or less in all its 23 college programs.

            It would be no stretch of imagination to conclude that this is happening nationwide.

            This is no longer “complementarity” in the provision of education – it is state-sponsored surgical removal of the private sector.

            This is State’s ultimate goal in its implementation of RA 10391? Does the State wish to kill or discourage the willingness of private entities to invest in and maintain private tertiary education?


            If it is not, then the CEAP reiterates the position earlier articulated by the COCOPEA and the PASUC: THOSE WHO CAN PAY FOR THEIR QUALITY HIGHER EDUCATION, OUGHT TO PAY FOR IT. THOSE WHO CANNOT PAY, SHOULD BE FULLY ASSISTED (by the State) TO OBTAIN THEIR EDUCATION.


            RA 10391 ought to be seen in this light – the STATE must assist those who cannot feasibly fund their higher education, but it must mandate SUCs to rationally prioritize the provision of higher education to those qualified but financially in need students. The SUCs themselves should be for those who cannot pay their own tuition and should be for the qualified beneficiaries, or they should charge for the quality education that they provide.

One more point.

            Free education in SUCs is only PART of this universal accessibility to tertiary education promised by RA 10391. The law likewise allows the economically “qualified” (i.e. the financially in need beneficiaries) the choice to enroll in a private HEI of their choice by way of the TES and the LOAN FUND provisions.

            Sadly, this has not been given timely attention nor fiscal prioritization – much to the disappointment of the private HEIs who have long clamored for State funded assistance to deserving students who wish to enroll or remain in private HEIs. This despite the fact that private education complements government capacity across all education levels- in the tertiary level, for example, by 54.3% compared to its state counterpart. This fact must be seriously taken into consideration in the formulation of guidelines and appropriation of funds for RA 10391’s TES and Loan Fund accordingly. To do so would not only be a nod to the symbiotic relationship that exists between public and private schools, but it would acknowledge the essential role of private education in making quality higher education accessible to all.