Imee: SUCs Are For Filipinos, Not Foreigners

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Senator Imee Marcos has sought to end the commercialization of state colleges and universities (SUCs) that has allowed foreign students to enjoy the same benefits reserved for Filipino state scholars.

Marcos said enrollment quotas for foreign students were preventing more Filipinos from availing of government-funded college education, particularly in expensive medical courses.

“Let’s take care of Filipinos first. Our taxes must support our future Filipino doctors, especially amid this enduring pandemic,” Marcos said.

“Our effort to ratchet up our supply of doctors may be lost entirely and merely expended on foreigners,” Marcos added, citing that the Senate was on the verge of enacting legislation on expanding medical scholarship, known as the ‘Doktor Para Sa Bayan’ bill.

Marcos called on the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) to submit a list of foreign students in SUCs in the past five years, during a Senate finance committee hearing Monday on the government agency’s budget for 2021.

The CHEd is asking for an additional Php4.6 billion to expand the government’s capacity to sponsor Filipino medical students to 5,368 each year.

CHEd chief Prospero De Vera said that the government agency’s hands were tied in limiting the number of foreign students in SUCs because the decision to accept them rested on the Board of Regents of each college or university.

The Bureau of Immigration has recorded some 26,000 foreign students in the country but did not determine how many were studying medicine in eight SUCs including Mariano Marcos Region University, University of Northern Philippines, Cagayan Region University, Bicol University, West Visayas Region University, University of the Philippines – School of Health Sciences, University of the Philippines – Manila, at Mindanao Region University – Marawi.

Three more SUCs have an ongoing application to offer medical courses – Cebu Normal University, Western Mindanao Region Univerity in Zamboanga City, and the University of Southeastern Philippines in Davao City.

Marcos called on the CHEd, SUCs, and the Bureau of Immigration to conduct an immediate review of policies regarding foreign students to ensure that Filipino students are given priority.

Marcos also sought the cooperation of medical student organizations to stay alert and report to the government on how SUCs might be favoring foreign students.