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Sen. Gatchalian challenges free higher ed critics: where’s your data?

​Senator Win Gatchalian prepares his notes before the start of the first committee hearing on the proposed legislation mandating for the abolition of tuition fees in all state colleges and universities, Oct. 27. The lawmaker carefully studied his proposal and pioneered the call for free higher education in the country as a congressman two years ago. ​(Photo by Mark Cayabyab)

Senator Win Gatchalian challenged critics of his free college education advocacy to produce credible data after various stakeholders failed to verify arguments raised in opposition to the proposal at the Senate.

 Senate Bill No. 198, otherwise known as the “Free Higher Education Act”, was one of the measures up for discussion at the hearing of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts, and Culture on the proposed tuition-free policy in state universities and colleges (SUCs).

 “My team and I have undertaken rigorous research to present clear facts and figures in support of our free higher education advocacy. Unfortunately, opponents of our advocacy have not done their homework,” said Gatchalian, the Vice-Chairman of the Senate Education Committee.

 Specifically, Gatchalian called on representatives of private higher education institutions (HEIs) to provide evidence in support of claims that the tuition-free policy would result in a mass migration of students from private HEIs to SUCs.

“Critics have been portraying the passage of the Free Higher Education Act as an apocalyptic scenario for private HEIs. These stakeholders need to offer us more than mere conjecture and speculation if they want us to give weight to their arguments,” said Gatchalian.