Faculty qualification - a key towards meeting educational reforms

November 11, 2012

Reforms in Philippine higher education, particularly the adoption of "outcomes and typology-based quality assurance," remains at the consultative level but some institutions are already at work to meet these reform-based standards.

The standards drawn by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) requires that "specific inputs" remain in place such as "qualified teachers, laboratories for relevant disciplines . as they create the environment, and shape the learning experience that is made available to students."

University of the Cordilleras (UC) Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Cleofas M. Basaen explained that the proactive approach of the university in basing its teaching and learning strategies on this latest CHED criterion acknowledges the global movement in education that focuses on capacity building and mutual recognition of qualifications.

The CHED policy states that the focus on quality and quality assurance underscores "the commitment of the Philippine government to the evolving efforts to recognize and develop a system of comparable qualifications, degrees and diplomas across the Asia-Pacific region."

It added that the CHED quality standards require "an acceptance (by the academic institution) of internationally agreed-upon frameworks and mechanisms for the global practice of professions."

If the "outcomes and typology-based quality assurance" still remains at the CHED task force level, UC's "learning and learner" initiatives sees to it that the university remains in contention at the international level, Dr. Basaen said.

UC initiatives include an expansion of the learning infrastructure - both physical and instructional. The instructional aspect involves a faculty qualification enhancement program that has brought the combined master's and doctorate degree competency levels of the UC faculty to 91 percent as of September 2012.

Reckoned from 1999, the steady ascent of UC's faculty qualifications began at 39 percent. As UC gained university status in the school year 2002-2003, faculty qualifications soared to 76 percent. The UC academic council had targeted an ideal 100 percent faculty qualification scenario before the year-end.

UC's qualification rate, statistically the highest among private HEIs in Baguio City, complies with the CHED mandate that "specific inputs" such as "qualified teachers" must be made available to students.

UC's developmental attitude towards its learning systems helps ensure that UC's graduates are given the right tools to navigate the world of employment, according to Dr. Basaen. However, the requirement for outcomes-based learning at present not only calls for educational qualification among the faculty but also the latter's awareness of workplace conditions and circumstances. These will establish the right context for instruction, she said.

The CHED policy states that an individual's ability to engage in "lifelong learning" will enable the learner to cope with "changing realities spurred by globalization." It added, "The forces of competition, cooperation and solidarity" requires that lifelong learning (defined as 'retraining and learning new skills/competencies') is in place.

At UC, "lifelong learning" is taught in conjunction with formal education in the sense that the building of "expert knowledge" is also enhanced by the building of learning competencies or, as CHED puts it, "learning how to learn."

These attributes of the university are validated through processes that include accreditation, establishing and maintaining Centers of Excellence, and living-up to the institution's status as a university. University President Dr. Ricardo P. Pama reports at the start of the school year that the rate of UC's accredited programs stands at 59 percent.

Accreditation is undertaken by independent institutions to determine if an institution's level of instruction exceeds the minimum standards established by the CHED. Among others, accrediting institutions are the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (PAASCU) and the Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities Commission on Accreditation (PACUCOA).

At present, the overall status of UC's accredited programs (in both the undergraduate and graduate levels) stands at Level II. UC is presently working on Level III accreditation for undergraduate programs in the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Business Administration.

Level III program accreditation is being pursued for UC's College of Criminal Justice Education and College of Teacher Education, both UC's Centers of Excellence. Programs at UC's College of Information Technology and Computer Science, also a Center of Excellence, are accredited at Level II.

At the graduate school level, the programs Doctor of Philosophy in Management, Master in Business Administration, Master of Arts in Education and Master of Arts are also being primed for Level III accreditation.

At Level III all teachers must be at least master's degree holders, but faculty qualification is not the only basis for its grant, according to Dr. Basaen. The program must also demonstrate excellence in instruction, extension, research, linkages and if applicable, performance in licensure examination.

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