Jun 10, 2020

The internationalization of the Philippines’ higher education institutions (HEIs) is doubtless beneficial in molding the next generation of global citizens. But most HEIs find that insufficient financial resources still pose a huge barrier for all involved, whether students, faculty, administration or staff.

Majority of HEIs consider internationalization a priority goal that has been included in strategic plans and annual budget preparations. Yet financial support for projects, programs and activities related to it remains a concern as HEIs also need to focus on other new challenges such as the implementation of K-12 education system.

 “It is apparent, based on the findings of the 2019 ANTENA survey, that the annual budget in schools set aside for internationalization is very limited,” noted Ruth Love V. Russell, School of Business and Management Dean at Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan. XU is a member of ANTENA, an HEI internationalization capacity building cooperation project co-funded by the Erasmus + program of the European Commission.

Internationalization efforts in the Philippines are focused largely on research collaboration, followed by mobility for faculty, administration and technical staff, student mobility, and to a lower extent, development of academic collaborative courses and programs, facilities and for fund raising activities.

The observed low funding support for internationalization could partly be attributed to the propensity of HEIs to consider mobility as the exclusive domain of the International Relations Office, with less synergistic efforts from all offices significantly involved in the implementation of internationalization activities. The findings of the survey also suggested that budget of schools has largely remained the same for most activities for the past three years

“The above scenario and all other challenges the HEIs are facing have relegated internationalization efforts to the lower end of HEIs’ priorities,” Russell said. Schools will have to take a long hard look at the financial implications of internationalization programs and tailor-fit budgets for the effort.

Ultimately, an institutional commitment to internationalization is required, as well as aligning goals with the national strategy. The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has already issued a memorandum order on Policy Framework and Strategies on the Internationalization of Philippine Higher Education. The Commission will even provide grant incentives to qualified transnational education programs. Legislation such as Republic Act 11448 or the Transnational Higher Education Act increases partnerships between local and foreign universities, and reflects growing government support for internationalization.

“It is vital for institutions to identify either their focus or strengths given the different areas of internationalization strategies that they can implement. This is crucial so institutions can creatively align and utilize their limited budget or funding approximation for maximum accomplishment outcome,” Russell said.

The financial sustainability of internationalization simply demands constant commitment. It is a high risk venture, perhaps, but one that will yield benefits to students, faculty and the greater community for generations to come.

Other Philippine partners of ANTENA are the Ateneo de Manila University, Benguet State University, Central Luzon State University, De La Salle University, Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Saint Louis University, University of the Philippines, University of San Carlos, and the Commission on Higher Education.