COCOPEA-PASUC held 4th conversations for education

July 29, 2018

MANILA – Last July 23, 2018, heads of various academic institutions both from the public and private sector convened in the fourth leg of the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC) – Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA) conversations which serves as an avenue to discuss improving the quality of education in both sectors.


Partners in quality education


PASUC-COCOPEA conversations were first held in November 2016 during the discussions on the proposed “free tuition law”. Both organizations consider the law laudable in its intent but expressed concerns on its impact on its respective operations and in improving the quality of education. The conversation serves as an important avenue to bridge the private and public educational institution concerns and generate proposals. In its second conversation last January 2017, PASUC and COCOPEA jointly affirmed their duty to provide access to quality higher education. They further recognized the complementary role of the public and the private sector in improving higher education. Both organizations adopted and committed themselves to the culture of quality assurance guided by the ASEAN Quality Assurance Network and its ASEAN Quality Reference Framework with the appropriate government assistance. More importantly, they emphasized that tuition free assistance in a proposed law then, which is RA 10391 now, should let qualified Filipino students able to pay for their higher education pay for it, and fully assist those who are unable to shoulder the cost.


Major wins


In its third conversation last April 2017, PASUC COCOPEA’s efforts materialized through the inclusion of their proposal in Senate Bill 1304 sponsored by Senator Ralph Recto in the proposed universal access to quality tertiary education. This achievement pushed the two organizations to establish committees to further ensure the improvement of higher education. Since the last conversation, the SB 1304 has now been enacted to law as RA 10391 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education.


Ensuring quality education


In this fourth conversation, Fr. Joel Tabora, CEAP President discussed what can be improved for the betterment of education in the public and private sector. Fr. Tabora presented several matters that were resolved by the two organizations in the past and the direction that they intend to pursue.

Among the points discussed were the continues pursuit of PASUC and COCOPEA to ensure that quality is further improved. The group resolved to work together to improve the quality of higher education and explore the possibilities of a more flexible quality assurance that provides space for academic freedom. Prospects for involving the education accreditation industry to be involved in the discussions and harmonized the metrics used in measuring quality in public and private sector. More importantly, the importance of collaborating in assuring qualification are recognized by the Philippine Qualifications Framework. This direction will necessarily require the cooperation of school heads to revise the CHED CMO 46 s. 2012 on Policy Standard to Enhance Quality Assurance in Philippine Higher Education Through an Outcomes-based and Typology-based Quality Assurance.


Complementarity in Education

The conversation also highlighted the importance of complementarity between the two sectors. Dr. Arnulfo Mascarinas, President of Bicol University, presented measures to address the improve the complementarity in various aspect of education. He proposed on regulating the offering of curricular programs giving priority high-capital intensive and Science and Technology programs and to partner with HEI in offering curricular programs. He also suggested faculty development grants for both private and public sector in the pursuit of graduate degrees, research and industry immersions and engagement.
The proposal to subsidize selected private HEis for the salary of highly trained faculty members were also discussed. This is to ensure that the highly trained teachers are at par with their counterparts in the SUCs. On student admission, Dr. Mascarinas mentioned to maintain the system of scholarship grants, students loan programs, subsidies to deserving students in private schools, especially the underprivileged. SUCs, in turn, should adopt stricter admission and retention policies as safety valve for influx of students due to free higher education. More importantly, to adopt a system of differentiated support for students in SUCs according to their ability to pay the cost of their education Dr. Ester Garcia, President of the University of the East also supported the view on the importance of complementarity. She presented a data on the efficiency of private higher education in terms of the cost of the faculty vis-à-vis the passing rate in private institutions. She also highlighted how there are more centers of excellence in private higher educational institutions than in public. She echoed the sentiment of the body when she presented the declining enrollment in private institutions after the enactment of RA 10391. After the discussion and review of issues that the two organizations have worked on, several committees have also presented their reports on the course of action and direction that each intend to undertake to continue their efforts.