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Return on investment

BY: Dr. Ramon Ricardo A. Roque, CESOI, Diplomate

I pointed out in this column last week that the public funds that will be appropriated for the implementation of Republic Act. No. 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act is a wise investment for both the Philippines and the Filipino people because of its potential returns.

The state and local colleges and universities as well as the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) – the front line agencies mandated to implement R.A. No. 10931—are faced with the challenge of actualizing substantial returns on this investment.

The law does not exclude students from well-to-do families. Our lawmakers decided to cover all students in state colleges and universities (SUCs), in local colleges and universities accredited by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and in all TESDA training centers.

The quality of students admitted to the implementing educational institutions is a variable that will significantly affect the return on the Filipino people’s investment.

As it is logical to assume that there are limitations on the budget that will be allocated to each implementing educational institution, the number of students that should be admitted by these institutions is also limited. With such limited number, the return on the people’s investment can only be optimized if the concerned institutions admit students who can, among others, potentially earn their degrees on time and be productive for their families and the country.

Concerned educational institutions also need to adopt a return-on-investment-focused retention policy. With their education being an investment of the Filipino people, student-beneficiaries of this law need to perform well in their studies. It will certainly be a great disservice to the Filipino people if concerned educational institutions will allow student-beneficiaries to continuously avail of the free education even if their performance is below set standards.

Substantially positive return on the Filipino people’s investment on the tertiary education of students can also be realized through quality education that educational institutions implementing the law provide.

This aspect is a challenge for the CHED and TESDA. As the government agencies mandated to oversea higher and technical education in the country, CHED and TESDA need to do strict quality control. This is not just a matter of these agencies ensuring that none of the concerned educational institutions is a “diploma mill” because these agencies need to ensure that even for private educational/training institutions. Optimizing return on the people’s investment calls for adopting globally competitive quality standards for the educational programs provided by the institutions implementing this law.

We hope that government agencies including educational institutions tasked to implement R.A. No. 10931 will not miss the fundamental fact that as an investment, the public funds that will be used in providing free tertiary education can either have positive or negative returns.