• Internationalization via cross-borders linked programs

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    ACADEMIC institutions with newly installed Internationalization units in their respective organizational structures are increasing. Along ASEAN 2015 timeline to achieve its goals at end of December this year, HEI’s have also changed their institutional statements – their Vision, Mission and Goals —- to blend with ASEAN integration. With or without having changed to a more pronounced intention to be an active part of the ASEAN university network, HEI’s nevertheless have begun plotting their roadmap to internationalization.

    Nearest to internationalization reach is ASEAN 2015. The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) aims that by end of this year, there shall have been created a single market and production base by “ensuring a free flow of goods, services, investment, capital and skilled labor.” As one of the signatories in the AEC Blueprint, our country, along with other ASEAN Member States (AMS), “should be open to zero import duties for ASEAN products and services.” It also means that we, like nationals of the other ASEAN member countries, should be able to work anywhere in the region without a work permit. Being able to work anywhere in the ASEAN means we are prepared to fit in the cultural diversity of the workplace.

    Given this target goal of ASEAN 2015, what are the implications for internationalization units in HEI’s? With our scarce resources, what do we intend to gain by internationalization through education? Our earlier column (ASEAN 2015 – March 27, 2015) suggested to begin by our gaining cultural competence through formal and informal curricula since ASEAN countries have various lifestyles – that is, the ASEAN countries have varied blueprint for living hence, may have specific competencies required for possible jobs in these ASEAN member countries.

    As our earlier column stressed, embedding an internationalization culture among university constituents need not always entail huge funding. Although the most direct way to internationalize the perspective of our academics and students is for them to have an actual (not vicarious) exposure to other cultures, we cannot always make this possible because of the expense required. Actual exposure requires a goodly sum from our faculty development or internationalization budgets. Academics, on leave for studies in cross-border universities, need to be paid their salaries which most Philippine universities cannot afford. On top of this, is the need to pay also the salaries of the substitutes to teach the loads while said academics are on leave. Also, student exchange/student abroad programs could be costly without outside sponsors. Let us describe several means on cost reduction.

    One way is through linked programs. We suggest that before transacting for such programs, the HEI’s refer to the government requirements as provided by the Commission on Higher Education Memorandum Order No.2 series of 2008: Policies, Standards and Guidelines (PSG) on Transnational Education (TNE). This CHED memo adopted its definition of transnational education from the UNESCO/ Council of Europe which refers to “consolidated distance education, blended mode, joint offerings, partner-delivered and branch modes.” In linked programs, for example, a baccalaureate in International Studies major in Southeast Asian Politics, a Philippine university may find a partner university in a country which can offer the courses

    leading to this major field. An ideal link, for our example, is with universities in the ASEAN such as a university in Singapore and one in Vietnam —- especially if the thrust of the major field is on comparative study. The form of government considered, our choice of countries in our example is more by informed choice than by mere convenience. Other linked programs need not always with two other universities. These programs may need only one other university in any of the ASEAN member countries.

    Courses in linked programs could be administered through a blend of on-line and by actual lecturers. Hence, expenses could be minimal. Using the same example – International Studies, major in Political Science – besides courses conducted on-line, one or more courses can be conducted by visiting academics from one or from both of the linked universities — either a university in Singapore or in Vietnam or both.

    The stay of a visiting academic in the receiving university need not incur a huge expense on the latter especially if an academic is on a sabbatical leave from his/her home university. A sabbatical leave is a privilege for tenured faculty awarded usually on the seventh year of continuous university service. Academics usually would tap ahead of the sabbatical leave period foundations or internal grants (that is, grants from their home universities) to carry on or finally finish with their counterparts in other universities usually on a collaborative research that they undertake. Thus, if a Philippine university with a program linked to a university from any ASEAN member country is able to identify an academic scheduled for a sabbatical leave, such an arrangement for lectureship as an aside to the collaborative research undertaking, should be well ahead agreed upon with the visiting ASEAN university academic on sabbatical leave. Given such ground work, the latter’s stay in the Philippine university would more likely be covered by sabbatical leave grant as a side activity, thus reducing cost for the Philippine University.

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    (Teresita Tanhueco-Tumapon, PhD 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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