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Awareness and implementation confidence of free higher education program under UNIFAST among HEIs in Sulu, Philippines

Rolly B. Tolentino, Masnona S. Asiri

Article ID: 2613
Vol 9, Issue 7, 2024, Article identifier:

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Accessible higher education is a critical determinant of a nation's competitiveness in the global knowledge economy. By investing in human capital through free tertiary education, countries can cultivate a skilled workforce capable of driving innovation, attracting foreign investment, and remain to be competitive on the international stage. This quantitative study analyzed the perceptions of students (n=200) about the implementation of Unified Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UNIFAST) in Sulu, Philippines. The students were purposively sampled from four (4) universities in the province. A standardized Likert-scale was used to elicit the perceptions of students based on three (3) implementation metric (i) institutions’ awareness of UNIFAST, (ii) application and disbursement process, and (iii) evaluation of UNIFAST outcomes. Findings indicated that the higher education institutions (HEIs) in Sulu often implemented the provisions of the law. Additionally, inferential analysis revealed that student’s demographic profile (i.e., gender, parental education attainment, family income) could influence their general evaluation of UNIFAST implementation. Notably, this could be attributed to their perception of the program as a substantial source of assistance in pursuing higher education. Likewise, the assessment of UNIFAST implementation by students may be influenced by emotional elements, such as feelings of relief and contentment. The program may receive higher ratings from students because of the emotional relief it offers, especially for individuals who are experiencing financial limitations. Future studies might consider developing a more rigorous analysis relating human emotions scaling up their overall evaluation of the UNIFAST program.


family income; free higher education; implementation of UNIFAST; parental education background

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