OBERLIN, OH – Despite the advice of his economic advisers, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a bill granting tuition free education to all Philippine citizens.
The Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act will give students tuition free education at 112 state universities and colleges nationwide and will take effect next school year.
Duterte voiced his belief that the long-term benefits of the bill are greater than the heavy budgetary implications. “A college diploma is the most decisive tool a Fillipino can carry in the struggle to give his or her family a better life”, per Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III.
However, many are concerned about the economic repercussions of the bill. Duerte’s economic advisors estimate that costs would reach $2 billion a year and could have significant detrimental effects on the government’s budget plan. Socio-economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia asserts “it’s going to be unsustainable over time.”
Furthermore, some are questioning who this law would help. The poorest Filipinos would still struggle to subsidize living expenses and the costs of instructional materials. The government would also be unable to aid these students since a substantial percentage of the budget is already allocated to free tuition.
Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno believes the law will only assist the wealthy, stating, “Only 12% of the poor get to the state universities, 12%, and when you say free tuition, you are actually subsidizing the rich.”
The Philippines is not the first country to offer free university tuition. Scotland offers a similar program but is also accused of only aiding its well-off students. Scottish students still leave with an average of $27,400 worth of student debt and, according to British Social Attitudes, only one fourth of Scottish citizens believe no students should contribute towards tuition fees.
Rhode Island, New York, Oregon, and Tennessee already offer free Community college. Will America follow in the footsteps of Scotland and the Philippines?