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Turuan ng utang na loob: Win Gatchalian backs return service program for college student

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The Free Higher Education Law allows students to excel in whichever fields of study they wish to pursue by removing the burden of having to pay for tuition and other fees.

Senator Win Gatchalian stressed this on Thursday as he urged state universities and colleges (SUCs) as well as local universities and colleges (LUCs) to “develop meaningful” return service agreements (RSAs) that would instill discipline in students and help them contribute to nation-building.

A return service agreement is a simple way for them to pay it forward and contribute to nation-building,” said Gatchalian, vice-chairman of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts, and Culture.

Gatchalian suggested that students could render return service to their schools by helping out as registration assistants or student assistants during the registration or enrollment period, volunteering during university-wide activities, and participating in outreach drives for victims of natural calamities organized by their schools, among others.

The Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act 10931 or the free tuition law states that SUCs and LUCs are mandated to formulate and implement an RSA system for students benefiting from the free higher education provision law as part of their admission and retention policies.

However, some the House of Representatives (HoR) members have been pressuring the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) to remove the provision from the IRR.

According to CHEd Officer-in-Charge Prospero de Vera III it is up to state universities, not CHEd, to decide whether to implement a return service program for RA 10931 beneficiaries.

De Vera also said that SUCs and LUCs are empowered to implement these programs even without the questioned IRR provision.

He earlier said RSA programs could involve outreach activities or assisting various school offices, including libraries.

CHEd added that activities may vary as schools were given “maximum flexibility” to determine their return service program.