Jan 15, 2020

Globalization in the 21st century has prompted the growth of a knowledge-based society. Recent technological advances have made it easier to connect countries, thus making the exchange of information easier and faster. This development has affected not only the economy but also higher education. In these times, higher education institutions (HEIs) are expected to provide quality education and relevant, evidence-based information to address the needs of its students and the immediate society.

The Philippine government has pushed for the globalization of its curriculum and programs in order to match its neighboring ASEAN countries. Competitive standards for Philippine HEIs (PHEIs) were set in view of the ASEAN integration. However, the “internationalization” of higher education has proven to be a challenging endeavor given the sheer number of PHEIs and the lack of an enabling environment for these HEIs to internationalize. Existing policies make it difficult to procure of state-of-the-art facilities and equipment meeting international standards. Certain legal provisions complicate the process for employing foreign experts to join the ranks as faculty members.

Responding to this need, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) released Memorandum Order No. 55, Series of 2016, which outlines the Policy Framework on the Internationalization of PHEIs. Through CMO 55, PHEIs now have an existing guideline for their internationalization efforts. This strategy enables PHEIs to have a uniform framework to refer to while developing their own niche in the international arena. Other enabling policies have since been passed. For example, Executive Order No. 65, Series of 2018 now enables a foreign expert to teach at higher education levels, provided they are not professional subjects/courses. Republic Act 11448 or the Transnational Higher Education Act expands access to international education experiences by encouraging foreign and local partnerships, along with the appropriation of funds for this purpose.

Ten universities across the country have also partnered with CHED, the University of Alicante in Spain, and the University of Montpellier in France for the Erasmus+ Project ANTENA. Project ANTENA aims to improve education and research quality of PHEIs through internationalization. ANTENA has spearheaded several programs since its kick-off in January 2019. Needs assessment surveys were conducted to review the challenges of PHEIs in terms of internationalization. Several trainings have also been conducted to capacitate international relations officers (IROs) in implementing their own international strategies.

The active involvement of PHEIs in internationalization and the continued efforts of the Project ANTENA Network is expected to result in stronger ties among local HEIs. Given the support from the government and CHED, it is no doubt that the Philippines is on its way to achieving a more globalized higher education environment, providing quality education at par with international universities.

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