CHEd needs to study academic calendar shift

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THE Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) is in no rush to endorse the switch to an August-to-May schoolyear, saying it needs careful study.

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CHEd Chairman Dr. Patricia Licuanan said in a statement Friday the commission is concerned about the implications of adjusting the academic year, and has created a technical working group to study it and submit recommendations before the end of March.

The University of the Philippines (UP) and the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) have announced they are shifting to the August to May schedule.

UP will implement the shift starting this schoolyear, and Ateneo will make the adjustment beginning 2015.

The CHEd working group is composed of Dr. Ester Garcia, former CHEd chair and president of the University of the East, Dr. Patricia Bustos-Lagunda, chairman of the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (Cocopea), representatives from the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (Pasuc), the Department of Education (DepEd) and the National Youth Commission (NYC).

De La Salle University (DLSU) and the University of Santo Tomas (UST) have also informed the commission they plan to revise their calendars.

UP and Ateneo said they are changing calendars as part of an “internationalization effort,” noting that the Philippines is the only remaining Asean member with a June-to-March academic year.

UP Los Banos, UP College in Cebu, UP Manila, UP Open University, UP Visayas, and UP Baguio will adopt the new academic calendar in August.

UP Diliman will follow later because it has not completed its consultation with stakeholders, the UP Public Affairs said.

A public forum at National Institute of Physics (NIP) Auditorium is scheduled on February 10 where experts will discuss the issues surrounding the shifting of classes.

The UP Integrated Schools and UP’s extension schools in Olongapo and Pampanga will keep the current academic calendar because there is no need for it to change, UP Vice President for Public Affairs Prospero de Vera said.

UP President Alfredo Pascual said that with the shift, UP is better prepared for integration of Asean’s educational systems.

Pascual said the change will create joint programs with other Asean, European and American countries and will allow the transfer of academic credits between schools.

The Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) is supporting the Ateneo’s decision to start classes in August.

Anthony Coloma, CEAP Advocacy and Information Management said Ateneo’s decision will lead to “globally competitive educational institutions.”

“Although ADMU is a CEAP member school, it is the institution’s discretion and decision to move to a new school calendar,” Coloma said.

Rep. Terry Ridon of Kabataan said moving the school opening from June to August will lead to expensive “education tourism.”

Ridon predicted a rise in “commercialization and privatization” as a result of the academic calendar shift.

Ridon said education tourism is a rising trend where foreign students enroll in Philippine schools for their undergraduate and graduate degrees, crowding out Filipino students.

“Actually, education tourism has been on the rise for some years now. But with universities in the country now aligning with the academic calendars of more foreign higher education institutions, we won’t be surprised if more and more foreign students start enrolling in our schools,” Ridon said.

“Of course, if education becomes another tourist attraction, then we foresee that tuition rates would also come at tourist prices,” he said.

Ridon said the August-to-May schoolyear runs counter to the country’s agricultural calendar and would affect students in rural areas.

“If more higher education institutions join the bandwagon for the academic calendar shift, we fear that the time will come when our universities become so foreign-oriented and overpriced that it will be filled not by young Filipinos but by foreigners who wish to finish their studies in the tropics,” Ridon said.

With reports from Candice Monique O. Brillon And Robertzon F. Ramirez

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