State universities in the Philippines will scrap tuition fees from the start of the 2017 academic year.
Under the first budget of Rodrigo Duterte, the new president, government education spending has been increased to cover the costs.
The Department of Education will see its funding increase from 433 billion Philippine pesos (£7.2 billion) to 544 billion Philippine pesos, according to the budget, which was signed into law in late December.
Students will still be liable for living costs and other expenses but grants and other aid would be available for poorer students.
When campaigning for the presidency, Mr Duterte promised free tuition for students but the proposal originated from the Philippine Senate after campaigns by the country’s youth movement that lasted several years.
The move has been welcomed by the only youth party of the Philippine House of Representatives, Kabataan Partylist. In a statement it said that free tuition was a “game changer” and potentially put the country on a par, in terms of free higher education, with countries such as Norway, Sweden, Finland and Germany.
“[T]he Philippine legislature has set in motion the reversal of the long-standing state policy of leaving public college to the grasps of commercialization,” the statement said.
“This simple yet game-changing move has shattered the illusion cast by naysayers and conservatives, who have long sought division and spread cowardice by saying that this is not possible,” it added.
The funding will cover the fees of more than 1.4 million students who attend 114 state universities and colleges nationwide.