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Economic managers ditch free tuition for college students

The Philippines government's economic managers have decided to ditch the proposed across-the-board free tuition for undergraduate students in state universities and colleges, saying it is unsustainable and will benefit only the rich kids, according to Manila Times Online report on Friday.

Instead, they opted for the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) as a better alternative.

In a joint position paper sent to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, the economic managers who include Socio-economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez and Budget and Management Secretary Benjamin Diokno said UniFAST provides a more coherent and comprehensive framework to address the educational needs of students.

They pointed out that tuition does not comprise the biggest share of the cost of college education. Based on the grant structure of the government's Student Grants-In-Aid Programme for Poverty Alleviation, tuition constitutes merely one-third of the annual cost covered by the grant.

They said that living expenses make up the biggest chunk of the cost of college education. Since poor families will be unable to afford the two-thirds of the cost, they will still be unable to send their children to college.

They recommended funding UniFAST instead, which they said is better designed to ensure a more efficient and effective use of government funds.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)

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