A Pulse Asia survey commissioned by Senator Win Gatchalian revealed that 98% of Filipinos favor free tuition in public universities.
This support extends across all economic classes: 99% in Classes ABC, 97% in Class D, and 100% in Class E; as well as across geographic regions such as the National Capital Region (NCR) at 98%, Balance Luzon at 96%, Visayas at 99%, and Mindanao at 100%. The survey was conducted from September 10 to 14 this year.
Increase in the number of graduates is the top reason why Filipinos support free tuition in public universities, which according to Gatchalian may highlight the respondents’ belief that a college degree is the path towards a higher quality of life and better opportunities.
When asked why they support free college tuition, more than half (51%) of the survey’s 1,200 adult respondents said that it results in more graduates. Specifically, 52% of respondents from Classes D and E, and 45% of those in Class ABC believe that free tuition in public universities leads to more graduates.
Of the 1% who are not in favor of free tuition in public universities, nearly half expressed concerns about the quality of education, while another 47% mentioned the issue of underfunding in public universities.
Gatchalian has pointed out that because of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act (Republic Act No. 10931) or the free higher education law, which he co-authored and co-sponsored, youth participation in higher education has increased. He noted that from 2018-2022, when the free higher education law was already in effect, the progression rate from senior high school to college has surged to an average of 81%. For Academic Years (AY) 2013-2014 and 2014-2015, before the Free Higher Education Law was implemented, the progression rates from high school to college stood at 54% and 62%, respectively.
“Marami na sa ating mga kababayan ang nakinabang sa libreng kolehiyo, at mahalagang tiyakin nating patuloy nating mabibigyan ng dekalidad at abot-kayang edukasyon ang ating mga kabataan. Titiyakin nating matatanggap ng ating mga SUCs ang suportang kinakailangan nila upang makapaghatid ng dekalidad na edukasyon,” said Gatchalian.
For fiscal year 2024, a deficiency of P4.1 billion looms over the budget of State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) for free higher education. Gatchalian has vowed to work towards addressing this deficiency, noting how it would affect the capacity of SUCs to invest in facilities, laboratories, and other resources essential for ensuring quality education.