Study grants and return service initiatives

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TERESITA TANHUECO-TUMAPON

Part 2
AS described in last week’s column, globalization has influenced the present generation of graduate students to want to experience studying off shores. They read literature on educational systems of other countries, academic leaves, research and teaching assistantships, capstone requirements, comprehensive examinations equivalents, and other practices in overseas universities, and comparing these to those of ours. Unknown to them, their reaction is what globalization does to them. Those inclined to mobility, ask me how they can avail of scholarships abroad to experience another “academic environment.” Some of them, conscious that there usually are conditions for return service of a study grant award would ask me what initiatives they could do after their return. As I used to tell them, it is not enough to say thank you. One has to be passionate about what learning he/she wants to share which would benefit a community and individuals as well. Such would be a more tangible way to show the world one’s appreciation for the experience brought by the academic award.

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Students try surfing and quite often they begin to be discouraged at the amount of paper work besides the cerebral preliminaries they have to go through in applying for such awards. I stress to them that going through all these processes is partly to prove that they have the stamina for hard work. Studies in foreign universities, as should be anywhere else, is not a holiday. They have to “sweat out enjoying their studies” besides adjusting to the lifeways of wherever they are. Postgraduate certificates, in particular, would entail a project presentation – a project that is feasible and implementable sometime after having returned to their home universities. Reporting a project implementation could find its way to a publication – hence would start, if not continue, one’s scholarship as an academic. The case who are not in academe but in industry or governance, would be similarly implementable. Its implementation report could find its way to an appropriate journal. There would then be a higher level of scholarship as an added value to the time, thought and capital invested on the award.

For this issue, let me share how I “stumbled” on that scholarship I had at Surrey U, parang hulog ng langit. The award was an outcome of a letter I wrote the author of a journal article in the UK, Lewis Elton, the head of the Center for Advanced Teaching in Higher Education (CATHE) who a decade later went to University College London to set up a research supervision degree program. The Elton article was about how in UK universities, academics were taught how to improve their teaching and that he was to visit the Universiti Sains Malaysia (Science University of Malaysia) to conduct a teaching workshop. Note that Malaysia was once a British trading post. At the time, in the 1970s and through the 1980s, teaching our higher education teachers (who we usually call “professors” – a generic term we use for those who have no doctorate degrees) how to teach better was unheard of. It was basic education teachers, especially in the public schools, that underwent “in service training.” As the vice-president for academics at Xavier U at the time, I wrote Professor Elton that surely such intervention would lessen dissatisfaction of students in most universities with their lecturers who never had any methods or other education courses. Although these lecturers are experts in their subjects, they may fall short of the ability to communicate what they know to their classes in a manner enjoyable to students. While complaints of dragging lectures were not vehement, nevertheless, such remarks have to be attended to.

Prof. Elton surprised me with his letter saying he was to make a quick trip from Malaysia via Hong Kong to Cagayan de Oro so we can meet to discuss about helping our lecturers teach better. Within a month after his visit, I received an invitation from him to take the CATHE course on a scholarship he sourced from the British Council in London. That began my several study visit grants to the UK where some of the ideas from those exposures found their way through our higher education commission and the teacher education council which I served for nine years. For instance, in the late 1990s, the Higher Education Funding Council of England (HEFCE) Executive Director Brian Fender, who I once visited in Bristol, came all the way to grace the first CHEd Higher Education conference and shared with the commission the HEFCE practices and materials. There was also then CHEd Chair Dr. Ester Garcia who in 1998 requested me to draw up a proposal on outcomes-based monitoring and evaluation. For this, we invited John Randall, Executive Director of the UK’s Quality Assurance Agency. He conducted a week’s workshop for all CHEd regional directors and their QA staff on models of QA. Refinement of the proposal became what then Commissioner Cristina Padolina, now CEU president, titled as the Institutional Quality Assurance Monitoring and Evaluation (IQuAME)—a resounding first on outcomes-based monitoring and evaluation in Philippine universities. Months later, together with John Randall (again, through the British Council), we headed a CHEd team to pilot the IQuAME at the Far Eastern University in Manila and at Tarlac State University in Tarlac City. As a return service, in a way, IQuAME has had quite a lifetime and like any evaluation tool, those of our readers who had gone through the instrument and the process, would be aware of its pluses and minuses, as well.

The author, one of the country’s most accomplished institutional management experts, held top academic positions at Xavier University (the Ateneo de Cagayan) before heading chartered institutions. She attended topmost universities in the Philippines, Germany, Great Britain and Japan. An internationalization consultant on call, she is journal copy editor of, and Graduate Studies professorial lecturer at, the Liceo de Cagayan University. Awards include a Lifetime Professional Achievement from the Commission on Higher Education and recently, the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (Verdienstorden der Bundesrepublik Deutschland).

(Email:ttumapon@liceo.edu.ph)

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