Gatchalian files bill to improve governance, quality of education in local universities, colleges

Senator Win Gatchalian has filed a bill that seeks to improve the governance and quality of education in local universities and colleges (LUCs), which are higher educational institutions that are being run by local government units.

“Mahalaga ang papel ng ating mga LUCs sa pagbibigay ng abot-kayang edukasyon sa ating mga kababayan at sa pagpapaunlad ng ating mga bayan at mga lungsod. Kailangang suportahan natin sila sa kanilang pagsisikap na maghatid ng dekalidad na edukasyon at tiyaking sila ay may maayos na pamunuan,” said Gatchalian.

The legislator noted that while the number of LUCs rose from 107 in 2018 to 143 in 2023 to address the growing demand for higher education, concerns on governance sustainability, and quality standards persist in these institutions. A policy note from the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) revealed that the three-year election cycle weakens leadership in LUCs, causing policy discontinuity, insufficient resource management, and ineffective investment strategies.

Gatchalian’s Local Universities and Colleges Governance Act (Senate Bill No. 2445) prescribes mandatory guidelines on the creation of LUCs. Before enacting an ordinance creating a local university or college, local government units must obtain institutional recognition as a higher education institution from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

The requirements for the establishment of LUCs for institutional recognition shall include a feasibility study, certification of availability of funds from the local treasurer, a project development plan, and a five-year institutional development plan.

LUCs established in accordance with the proposed measure shall be eligible to avail of the benefits provided under the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act (Republic Act No. 10931) also known as the free college education law.

The highest policy-making body of a local university or college will be the Board of Regents, chaired by the local chief executive. The president of the LUC, responsible for overseeing the institution’s administration, shall serve as the body’s vice chairperson and must hold a doctoral degree in education or related fields. The president’s term shall be three years, with the possibility of reappointment for up to two terms.

The proposed measure also stipulates that LUCs must secure CHED approval before offering higher academic programs. Data from CHED also reveals that 41 out of 143 LUCs are not officially recognized by the State. Out of the 102 LUCs with institutional recognition, 35% still lack program compliance. This means that these LUCs offer programs that do not fully adhere to CHED’s policy standards and guidelines. 

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