Origin, role and function of student affairs services

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TERESITATANHUECO-TUMAPONWHAT seems to have been officially written or said about the student affairs, student support, or student services in our higher education institutions (HEI’s)in between 2006 until 2013 are the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) guidelines to HEI’s<CMO-No.21-s.2006><CMO-No.09-s2013> on the role and functions of Student Affairs and Services (SAS),labeled sometimes as Student Personnel Services.SAS is a department/division in an HEI to complement and support the formation of students according to the institutional vision and mission by enhancing growth and development in terms of human attributes — the spiritual, rational, affective and physical. If the head is a dean/director, he/she reports to the vice-president for academics. If as a vice-president, this head reports to the HEI President.

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Until the 70’s, a dean of men/women or of discipline, distinguished from the college dean headed the SAS. I remember at Xavier University – the Ateneo de Cagayan, we had a Dean of Discipline.As in many Philippine universities, this Dean might have had a similarposition description of US universities, one who “undertakes to assist the men (and women) students [to]achieve the utmost of which they are individually capable, through personal effort on their behalf, and through mobilizing in their behalf all the forces within the University which can be made to serve this end.” The one thing that remained consistently today “was the responsibility to deal with men and help them develop to their potential.”Formore,cf.<https://www.google.com.ph/?ion=1&espv=2#q=student%20personnel%20services%20definition>At that time, too, a number of colleges were either only for men or for women, becoming co-educational in later years.

The Anglo-American concept draws on the “Oxbridge model where the universities dominate the town or city where they are built.”<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Studentaffairs> “Most early institutions were residential; the tutors lived in the halls with the students. These men were the precursor to student affairs professionals in the US . . . typically, served as dean of discipline and in place of the parent.” Their function was “on control of the student as opposed to modern philosophy which focuses on the development of the student as a whole, but has always connected those interested in the welfare of students with students needing assistance.”
As I wrote in a previous column, at that time in Europe and even to the present, Europe’s universities dominate their sites whethertowns or cities called university towns or student citiesbecause the majority of the population are students of the university.A university’s colleges are a collection of buildings “often historic and attractive which form a small enclosed community.” Within each college complex are “student and tutor accommodations, common rooms, café and bars, library and computer facilities often open 24/7and offices for staff members.”
(“Staff,” in Europe, refers also to the “academics,” or in our lingo, faculty members.)Around colleges areshops, fashion, beauty and health saloons, apothecaries, bakeries,entertainment, church/chapels, etc.Sinceuniversities are made up of residential colleges for both students and tutors and classes are mostly tutorials, tutors/supervisors easily act as counsellors to students. Called tutors in Oxford and supervisors in Cambridge, they devote much time to academic enhancement needs of students. This explains why professional SAS administration in the UKis “of relatively recent date” becoming “a feature of UK universities in 1992, having previously been widespread only in the new universities.”SAS in Philippine HEI’s draws its origins from the “Anglo-American concept that schools stand in loco parentis, creating a greater legal obligation for the university to govern student life.”

CHED’sMemorandum Order No.9–s.2013defines the role of SAS as providing “the services and programs in HEI’s . . . concerned with academic support experiences of students to attain holistic student development.” Anent to this role, its set of functions cover threefold service areas, namely: “(1.) Student Welfare Services — basic services and programs needed to ensure and promote the well-being of students; (2.)Student Development Services — designed for the exploration, enhancement and development of the student’s full potential for personal development, leadership and social responsibility through various institutional and/or student-initiated activities; and(3.)Institutional Programs and Services — services and programs designed to proactively respond to the basic health, food, shelter and safety concerns of students, including students with special needs and disabilities and the school.” In more detail the CMO defines the functions as to“(1) ensureproper balance between rights of educational institutions and students’ rights; (2)improve the quality of student affairs and services among HEI’s;(3) promoteaccess to quality, relevant, efficient, effective SAS;and (4)supportstudent development and welfare.”<.ph/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/CMO-No.09-s2013.pdf>
In the actual operation of the SAS, coordination mechanisms are recommended such as regular membership of the SAS VP/Dean in the Academic Council usually chaired by the VP for Academics. To support the growth and development of students, SAS should function in full unisonwith academics, translating institutional vision and mission in co/extra-curriculum, complementing and supplementing initiatives, to enhance growth and development of students and at the very least, not run counter to schedules and timeliness.Firsthand discussions on student support needs with college deans in Academic Council meetings provide SAS the proper perspective to craft necessary interventions on student failures, behavior and counselling needs, remediation, etc. Even if academic departmentshandle co-curricular activities such as staging plays and/or debates, folkdance contests, nevertheless, close coordination of the academic and student affairs officesis necessary. This also avoids conflictofregular and review classes or exams schedules withschedules of co/extra-curricular activities. (30)

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Teresita Tanhueco-Tumapon, PhD, one of the Philippines’ most accomplished educators and institutional management experts, heldtop academic positions at Xavier University (Ateneo de Cagayan) before heading chartered institutions. She studied not only in the topmost universities in the Philippines but also in Germany, Great Britain and Japan. An internationalization consultant on call, she is copy editor of the Liceo journals, and professorial lecturer at the Graduate Studies of Liceo de Cagayan University (in Cagayan de Oro City). Awards include a Lifetime Professional AchievementAward from the Commission on Higher Education.

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