Feb 03, 2020

Internationalization among Philippine higher education institutions (HEIs) face numerous challenges, the most obvious perhaps being the costs involved for a student to study abroad. The other side of the coin has more to do with just how competitive Philippine HEIs are perceived in the international education landscape.

Gil S. Jacinto, Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs and Director of the Office of International Linkages at the University of the Philippines, suggests that it might be beneficial to take a closer look at how ranking bodies work and rate universities worldwide. While the credibility of these rankings still comes under heavy discussion, Dr. Jacinto proposes that Philippine HEIs can evaluate themselves based on these metrics and determine areas for improvement. These metrics usually include academic and employer reputation, faculty-student ratio, research citations per faculty, international faculty ratio and international student ratio, to name a few.

“When universities engage with each other, it is often premised on comparable or differentiated strengths and advantages,” he said. “Many universities do take note of how existing and potential partner universities fare.”

Dr. Jacinto added that conducting such an evaluation was inevitable if only to find out how Philippine HEIs fared, and to determine if interventions were necessary within the HEI or even at the program or policy level of the Commission on Higher Education.

The assessment would entail examining their existing programs and courses; reviewing the duration of academic programs especially at the post-graduate level; enhancing research collaboration with international researchers and more.

“Universities will also need to review and help reduce obstacles to the granting and processing of visas; find suitable housing and develop programs for international students in addition to academic requirements,” he said.

Dr. Jacinto also sees a bright light in the recent passage of Republic Act 10931 or the free tuition fee law for undergraduates in state universities as it may help increase numbers of outbound students. Parents and their children in SUCs can be encouraged to save money that would otherwise be used to pay for tuition fees to help fund a semester abroad with a partner university. Raising funds for such an initiative could be explored.

Some private universities, especially those run by religious congregations with an international presence, already have existing programs for inbound and outbound students.

For state universities, he recommends fund-raising programs targeting alumni, benefactors and philanthropic organizations that could help increase a student’s opportunities for experiencing studies abroad.

The University of the Philippines is a member of ANTENA, a capacity building cooperation project co-funded by the Erasmus + program of the European Commission. Other partners include 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 San Carlos and Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan, and the Commission on Higher Education.