No merit scholars this year due to limited funds – CHED

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) said on Thursday, May 21, there will be no merit government scholars for school year 2020-2021 due to the realigned budget for the fight against COVID-19.

At the Senate hearing on the government's coronavirus response, CHED chairperson Prospero De Vera III said that parts of the student financial assistance set for 2020 will no longer be released. 

"Ang mapopondohan namin doon sa natitirang pera ay 'yung continuing lang. Kasi kung tatanggap kami ng bago... tapos hindi mabibigyan 'yung continuing," said De Vera. (We can only fund the continiuing scholars from the remaining budget. If we're to accept new scholars, we won't be able to support the continuing ones.)

Under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, President Rodrigo Duterte has the authority to realign funds for COVID-19 response. 

There have been reports that state universities and colleges might be forced to collect fees due to a directive of the Department of Budget and Management temporarily withholding the release of funds for some programs due to the pandemic.

De Vera earlier said that the budget department agreed to its request not to stop the release of funds for free tuition.

During Thursday's hearing, De Vera added that other fees for reimbursment will be affected by the budget realignment, but this will rectified if included in the 2021 budget.

The government coronavirus task force approved CHED's resolution to start classes for the incoming school year based on mode of teaching.

Experts at the University of the Philippines earlier warned that the "physical" opening of classes might increase the transmission of COVID-19– Rappler.com

Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.

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