Universities and HEIs commit to internationalize and better higher education in the Philippines

Roughly 80 presidents, vice presidents, chancellors, vice chancellors, deans and institute directors from 24 academic institutions in the country agreed on a resolution that sought the support of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) on the internationalization strategies and initiatives of Philippine higher education institutions (HEIs).

The decision was reached at the end of the Conference on the Development of International Quality Higher Education Institutions held from August 26 to 28 at Microtel by Wyndham in Diliman, Quezon City.

Organized by the University of the Philippines through the Office of International Linkages, the conference aimed to help Philippine universities/HEIs and state universities and colleges in building and strengthening their structures and competencies so that they can develop strong and sustainable programs and activities.

Participants pose for a souvenir photo. The three-day conference consisted of lectures from local and foreign speakers as well as workshops.

UP President Alfredo Pascual, who was represented in the conference by Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs Rhodora Azanza, highlighted in his welcome remarks the need for Philippine HEIs to internationalize. He likewise cited UP’s efforts to strengthen internationalization through forming linkages with universities outside the Philippines.

Three lectures and two workshops were given over the course of two days.

On the first day, Prof. Dr. Philipp Pohlenz, a professor of higher education research and professionalization of academic teaching at Universitat Magdeburg in Germany, showed that quality assurance can be employed as a tool for adaptive university management but that it is not devoid of challenges.

Ms. Mandy Mok, chief executive officer of QS Asia Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) Ltd. in Singapore, proposed collaborating with other universities, attending conferences, joining international exhibits and increasing publication output as practical ways by which Philippine universities can heighten their visibility globally.

The day ended with a workshop that looked into the relevance and appropriateness of the context and rationale of world university rankings or assessments, the capability of the current guidelines or criteria of QS (and other) world university rankings or assessments to appropriately evaluate Philippine universities and HEIs, and the criteria or guidelines in these instruments that do not appropriately or realistically apply to Philippine universities and HEIs.

On the second day, Dr. Azanza presented the paper which she co-wrote with CHED director Lily Freida Macabangun-Mila on strategies and current policy reforms for invigorating and enhancing universities and HEIs.

This was followed by a workshop where participants carried out a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis of Philippine HEIs in relation to internationalization and world rankings, and examined the role of government and Philippine HEIs that are among the top universities in Asia and the world. Aspects of the national higher education, research and development and internationalization policy that will be developed in 2016 were of particular concern during the workshop as well.

After the talks, participants were divided into two groups to review HEIs in light of internationalization and world rankings, and to discuss a forthcoming policy on national higher education.

Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs Alyssa Peleo-Alampay guides the participants through the SWOT analysis. 

The academic institutions that took part in the conference were the Ateneo de Manila University, Benguet State University, Lyceum of the Philippines University-Batangas, Lyceum of the Philippines University-Laguna, Philippine Normal University, St. Paul University Philippines, University of San Carlos, University of Santo Tomas,  University of the Philippines Cebu, University of the Philippines (UP) Visayas, Visayas State Univesity, West Visayas State University, Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan, Ramon Magsaysay Technological University, De La Salle University, Bicol University, Central Mindanao University, Mariano Marcos State University, Mindanao State University,  Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology, University of Mindanao, University of Southern Mindanao, University of the Philippines Baguio and University of the Philippines Mindanao.

According to the organizer, HEIs in the 21st century need to face and undertake structural and cultural changes to effect academic excellence and relevance in a highly globalized/internationalized landscape. Such changes involve shifts in skills requirement, attitudes and knowledge.