- Butch Fer­nan­dez

SE­NATE Pres­i­dent Pro Tem­pore Ralph Recto rued Fri­day the unequal sub­sidy for State Uni­ver­si­ties and Col­leges ( SUC) schol­ars. “Not all SUC stu­dents are funded equal,” Recto said even as he noted that the av­er­age sub­sidy is pegged at P80,000 per stu­dent a year.

“Each may have dif­fer­ent re­quire­ments, such as equip­ment back­log or staffing deficit which must be erased; the in­vest­ments for which would dif­fer from school to school,” the sen­a­tor said.

He as­serted, how­ever, that “what is clear is that the al­lo­ca­tion should be ra­tio­nal­ized and needs re­work­ing based on up­dated and fair pa­ram­e­ters.”

In a statement, Recto rec­om­mended that “as we in­crease fund­ing for state col­leges, sol­i­dar­ity dic­tates that a ris­ing tide must raise all ships.”

Recto re­called that in his in­ter­pel­la­tion last year on the bud­get of the Com­mis­sion on Higher Ed­u­ca­tion ( CHED), he had cited last year’s an­nual per stu­dent cost.

“The rough cal­cu­la­tion was on a per re­gional ba­sis and I agree that data should be un­bun­dled per school to have a clearer pic­ture,” Recto said.

Voic­ing hope that his “rudi­men­tary pre­sen­ta­tion trig­gers a healthy de­bate on the is­sue,” Recto af­firmed his be­lief that “in the in­ter­est of trans­parency, a per stu­dent cost should be made part of an SUC’S bud­get sub­mis­sion and a na­tional com­par­a­tive ta­ble be in­cluded in the Na­tional Ex­pen­di­ture Pro­gram.”

How­ever, he has­tened to clar­ify that “this is not to pass judg­ment on whether cer­tain schools de­serve what they get, as there are met­rics to be used other than a sim­ple spread­sheet.”

At the same time, Recto noted that for 2021, the av­er­age per stu­dent cost in SUCS is P80,000, not­ing that this is “the yearly tax­payer bur­den per SUC stu­dent.” He said “this is roughly based on the SUCS P80- bil­lion ap­pro­pri­a­tion and CHED funds for pub­lic school schol­ar­ships of P25 bil­lion, or a to­tal of P105 bil­lion for 1.3 mil­lion stu­dents.”

“But stu­dents in pri­vate col­leges get tax­payer sub­sidy too,” the sen­a­tor pointed out, adding that the rate was pegged at P60,000 each next year. “They are the 341,000 en­rollees in pri­vate schools who ben­e­fit from the tu­ition sub­sidy that costs P20 bil­lion.” The sub­sidy for pri­vate school stu­dents is man­aged by the CHED un­der the man­date of the Ter­tiary Ed­u­ca­tion Sub­sidy in Repub­lic Act 10931, or the Uni­ver­sal Ac­cess to Qual­ity Ter­tiary Ed­u­ca­tion Law.

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