Basic economics of internationalization: Nurturing our academics

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ACADEMIC institutions that have put up internationalization units as part of their organizational structure are increasing. Internationalization is seen as “something higher education institutions (HEI’s) do, while globalization is something that is happening to them.” With Asean 2015 expected to achieve its goals at end of this 2015, HEI’s have also changed their institutional statements – their Vision, Mission and Goals to blend with Asean. With or without having changed to a more pronounced intention to be an Asean university, HEI’s nevertheless have begun plotting their roadmap to internationalization.

Embedding an internationalization culture in a university needs a slice from the institution’s budget. To take off would entail huge funding. Funds are needed to expose academics and students to foreign life and academic culture. Such activities could be through teacher exchange and junior abroad programs. Even if academics have outsourced scholarships, further studies of these academics in cross border universities entail money– why, because the HEI has to give academics their salary while they are on study leave and at the same time pay another academic for the substituted teaching and/or other workload. Moderately sized private HEI’s (student population-wise eg 4,000 to 5,000 ) usually cannot afford this expense. Also, not every HEI, especially a private non-sectarian one, would consider as a priority this type of faculty development or, as it is referred to in European universities, continuing professional development or CPD. Not when HEI’s are facing a bleak two-year period from SY 2016-2017 when there will be no freshmen and sophomore collegiate enrolment as a transition effect of the K-12 system.

Internationalization as a byword in higher education has come “to encompass three major areas: a) movement of scholars and students seeking training and research, b) convergence in curricular content, and c) structural arrangements that provide cross-border technical assistance and educational cooperation programs (IEA, 1966).” Even before the 21st century, Kerr, Gate & Kawaoka reaffirmed these components of internationalization giving less emphasis to the structural components of international cooperation. Similarly, in research reports prepared for Advances in Civil Engineering (ACE) (2002) and the International Association of Universities (IAU) (2003) the mobility of students and faculty were seen as the primary mechanisms of internationalization (Knight, 2003). <http://cdn.intechopen.com/pdfs-wm/38270.pdf>

Back in the late 90’s when the Commission on Higher Education was allocating amounts of its Higher Education Development Fund (HEDF) for advanced degrees scholarships of Philippine HEI academics, I suggested to include a “replacement cost” for every academic on study leave. Replacement cost pertains to the cost to be incurred by the sending HEI to pay the substitute teacher for the teaching load of the academic-on-leave. Thus, when then CHED Chair Angel C. Alcala took the suggestion of then Commissioner Dr. Roberto N. Padua (who earlier was Director of CHED’s Office of Programs and Standards) to put up the Mindanao Advanced Education Program (MAEP), then CHED Chair Alcala included a modest P5,000 replacement cost for every semester to fund substitute teaching loads of academics on leave. MAEP helped accelerate the quality of Mindanao HEI’s which did not have as much opportunities as HEI’s located in the country’s capital.


In my experience, administration has much to gain in terms of commitment when academics are mentored in institutional finance where this concerns them, eg the CPD fund. Deans and department chairpersons save when they can (as in using supplies, etc. to stretch their CPD budgets). For instance, if a regular academic goes on study leave, what would be the least expensive way to allocate the teaching loads which are given up without sacrificing quality? Would hiring qualified substitutes, such as part timers, cost less than distributing the loads as overloads to fulltime permanent/temporary academics? If new substitute part-time academics are to be hired, is there added cost to the HEI for GSIS/SSS or Pag-ibig counterpart contributions? Would replacement cost be less and quality more assured if the more seasoned academics absorb such loads as part of their regular workloads by distributing extra class workload to younger academics such as student organization advisorships, civic engagement services, etc.? College deans and department chairs can better handle finances for CPD if it is a programmed one and that the deans and the academics concerned were part in crafting such plan and are tutored in the debit-credit aspect of the CPD fund. A programmed CPD means academics know when their turn is to be on leave – some for beginning advanced degree programs, others — lacking just a last term for course work, or to write the final draft of their dissertation, hence, would need only a semester or less of study leave, etc.

An instance of a gain when academics are let into the administrative aspects of their CPD was when a couple of academics of the same department agreed to substitute a load for each other when their own turn came. So, we didn’t need to spend for a 3-unit extra load. This may be a very modest way, but the head concerned should value such initiative and show appreciation by acknowledging this such as in faculty/academic/university council meetings. One can nurture more commitment of our subordinates if we recognize the good that they do. As heads, we should not feel less just because they, not us, were the prime thinkers of such novel initiative. This means, we have inspired them.

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Teresita Tanhueco-Tumapon, Ph.D., is one of the Philippines’ most accomplished educators and experts on institutional management in colleges and universities. Her studies have included not only education and pedagogy but also literature. She has studied not only in the topmost universities in the Philippines but also in Germany, Britain and Japan. She is now the Vice-President for External Relations and Internationalization of Liceo de Cagayan University (in Cagayan de Oro) after serving as its VP for Academic Affairs for six and a half years concurrent to her ten years as dean in the Graduate Studies of the same university. She holds a Lifetime Professional Achievement Award from the Commission on Higher Education.

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1 Comment

  1. Leodegardo Pruna on

    Dear Dr. Tumapon,

    Your treatise about the subject of “internationalization” is much appreciated. I agree with the content and hope that others too may not only learn but apply. There are two things which i think we have to look at- for their similarity or dis-similarity. The terms “transnationalisation” and “internationalization” seemingly talk of the same matter. Would it be different if we consider “depth” or “focus”?

    I wish we could meet or discuss the matter more lengthily and intelligently.

    Leodegardo M. Pruna, Ph.D.
    Professor Emeritus, Tarlac State University