Medical students to get free tuition in 8 SUCs

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has allocated P317.1 million from its 2017 budget to provide free tuition for medical students in 8 state universities and colleges (SUCs) for academic year 2017-2018.

This was announced by CHED Commissioner Prospero de Vera III in a Facebook post Tuesday, June 13, and confirmed to Rappler by CHED Chairperson Patricia Licuanan on Wednesday, June 14.

According to a statement posted by De Vera, new and continuing Filipino medical students of these 8 SUCs can avail themselves of a full tuition subsidy through the Cash Grants to Medical Students Enrolled in State Universities and Colleges (CGMS-SUCs) program:

Each school will receive around P39 million to implement the program, according to De Vera.

Citing a joint memorandum circular of the CHED and the Department of Budget and Management, he said that, under the CGMS-SUCs program, qualified student-grantees are entitled to a 100% tuition subsidy.

A student must meet the following requirements to be qualified for the program:

Student-grantees must also render a one-year "return service" in the Philippines "for every year of cash grant received as part of their public service responsibility."

These soon-to-be doctors have the option of serving in government hospitals, private hospitals, or local government health facilities in the Philippines. They can also become doctors to the barrios.

De Vera told Rappler that the P317.1 million is part of the P8.3-billion allocation meant to provide for free tuition in SUCs.

The remaining P8 billion will be used to implement the tuition-free policy in SUCs that will prioritize beneficiaries of government student financial assistance programs

"This initiative is a response to the continuing lack of doctors in the country caused by the high cost of medical education, overseas migration, and brain drain," De Vera said in the statement.

He added: "The Duterte administration wants to solve this problem by subsidizing the tuition of medical students and facilitating their residency and practice in the different parts of the country."

Aside from CHED's tuition-free policy, lawmakers are expecting President Rodrigo Duterte to sign the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act into law by June or July. – 

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.