For the past two decades, we have been diluted over and over by the snail-paced journey to becoming a university, which made the people of the province believe that the news of CSC’s conversion in October news was a hoax, until it was proven real by news reporters and credible offices. We may recall that two former Congressmen have given and eventually took back the anticipation in the wake of the academe’s transition. The preceding attempt before House Bill no. 4170 (Congressman Cesar Sarmiento’s Conversion Bill), almost succeeded, but after two steps further, it collapsed.
The long-awaited conversion finally became corporeal with Republic Act 10229, “An Act Converting the Catanduanes State Colleges in The Province of Catanduanes into a State University to Be Known as the Catanduanes State University and Appropriating Funds Therefore”, which was authored by Representatives Cesar Sarmiento and Sonny Angara, and signed by President Benigno Aquino III.
This dream is tangible; the sought-for approval of the bill burrows deep in the people such that, with the knowledge of what the label might mean for the future of the province, so many had fought to make it happen.
In the explanatory note of Senator Francis Escudero’s Senate Bill No. 2727, the senate version of HB No. 4170, he stated that the right to quality education invariably includes the right to have access to quality higher education. In the island province of Catanduanes, giving citizens therein access to quality higher education is made more complicated by the province’s isolation. The need to strengthen and improve educational institutions in the province is therefore imperative.
According to Senator Escudero, “It is with these factual antecedents that the conversion of the Catanduanes State Colleges (CSC) into the Catanduanes State University is earnestly sought. By granting the CSC the status of a University, it will be in a better position to provide not just quality higher education and thus better opportunities to the youth of Catanduanes, it will also provide a unique boost to the efforts of the Province of Catanduanes to enrich its human resources as it prepares to meet the challenges of a globalizing world.”
Thus, operating under the label of a university, and being the fourth state university in the Region V, will bring not just challenges but uncompromising expectations for the academe. In her article published by Catanduanes Tribune on November 7, SUC President III Minerva I. Morales revealed that the Catanduanes State University shall operate under Philippine Public Higher Education Reform (PHER) Roadmap 2011-2016—a response to local rising changes and uplifting internalization, which embraces One Vision, One Identity of ASEAN 2015; K to 12 reforms; amalgamation and typology of state colleges and universities; and accreditation not just from AACUP but also from other accreditation agencies. These accreditors shall issue assessment of the academe’s performance as a State University, which can ensure that nothing but sustainable quality education is offered.
Thus, current standards by the institution must be renewed. Oriented by this truth, concealment of the institution’s blemishes during accreditation period must be replaced by a committed rendering of excellent services whole year round.
DUSTING THE BINOCULARS: Square One
“The Catanduanes State Colleges has all the potentials for being a State University,” Commissioner Nenalyn P. Defensor said in her report on the “Review of the Twin Processes of Formulation and Implementation of Policies and Programs in State Universities and Colleges (SUCs)” held by the Commission on Higher Education in 2007.
These 2007 reports pointed out the inadequacies of the institution in consideration of the physical, financial and human resources of the academe. This knowledge proved vital in highlighting the quality of education that the Catanduanes State Colleges wants to offer.
To discuss the reports, a Board meeting was held, after which appropriate actions were taken under the recommendation of the experts to improve CSC’s management. These developments included: phasing out of the Bachelor of Science in Business Education in order to stop its practice of hiring its graduates as college instructors, when in fact, these students are only qualified to become high school teachers; merging of the recently discovered offshoot colleges, which resulted in only four departments under the College of Engineering; and establishing a Speech Laboratory was given importance.
Meanwhile, the reports also affirmed the well-built Income Generating Projects (IGPs) in agricultural and fisheries production.
All in all, the ocular survey helped the institution to advance itself—but not in all aspects. Five years after the visit of CHED Commissioners, improvements on the physical, financial, and human resource status of the institution are generally utilized, but the quality of instruction remains under scrutiny. CSC can claim high percentages of board passers in the Civil Engineering, Nursing, Nutrition, and Dietetics Licensure Examinations, but not in Certified Public Accountant Board Exams and Licensure Exams for Teachers.
Now, upon the approval of the Republic Act 10229, a balanced scorecard for CSU’s performance must be issued to satisfy the parameters set for an autonomous university supplying experts for nation building, knowledge, and technological advances for sustainability and excellence.
ZOOMING IN : Tracking Changes
“University, magandang pakinggan, pero pangalan lang ‘yun, and it’s up to the administration to live up to the name,” Attorney Greg Sarmiento, the legal counsel of CSC, hopes in the face of real and significant changes.
In order to live out the label and possess a balanced scorecard to function in parallel with the PHER Roadmap 2011-2016, CSU must adhere with the framework for all Higher Education Institutions (HEI) in the country. There are parameters that consist the frame of a balanced scorecard for a university.
The upgrade of academic degree programs is first on the checklist. This will unlock doors to doctoral programs in three different fields of study, and thus will organize the homogeny of faculty members. The faculty shall consist of members that are doctoral and masteral degree holders, and are professionally licensed according to the subject areas they handle. This upgrade shall also require all graduate programs and at least 50% of baccalaureate programs to submit thesis/project/research papers. The objective is to attain quality teaching and learning as indicated by the Number of Weighted Full-Time Equivalent Students; total number of graduates; licensure passing rate; FTE Faculty Highest Degree; Certificate of Enrollment holders; accreditation rate from various accreditation agencies, namely, AACUP, IQuaMe, ISO, and Washington Accord; and likewise, the faculty, laboratory equipment, and library users over student ratio.
The next target in the frame is the boosting of research, which will need the cooperation of full-time faculty members as faculty researchers. The researches produced must be pioneering, patented and must be published or linked to reputable journals and publications. This can be tough for these designated people, as it was already one of the problems before the conversion—our failure to produce numerous good researches.
Whether or not we have attained the boost of research will be indicated by the number of researchers with track records; and the amount of researches or research articles presented in regional, national, and international fora and publications, as well as in refereed journals. Likewise, it shall be indicated by the number of externally funded researches; research foras conducted; copyrights; and inventions patented.
The third goal to be realized as a university is the supervision of support for students, in order to increase equity and access to education and student services. This will be shown by the improved ratio of institutional scholars to total number of students; the number of externally funded scholars, and the number of foreign students. Meanwhile student services must increase the number of students provided by dormitory services; medical and dental services; guidance and counseling services; peer counseling programs; and online enrolment and access to student data.
The academe’s relationship with the community shall also be regarded to come up with a balanced university scorecard. As a fourth parameter, this safeguards quality extension programs that cater to the needs of the community and bond with other institutional agencies, as well as private organizations. This shall be mirrored by the number of extension programs provided on the basis of the community’s needs; externally funded extension programs; beneficiaries; persons trained; and the assessment by the stakeholders of the local government unit (LGU) as excellent/relevant/very useful.
Lastly, governance and management of the institution shall also be supervised to uplift quality support services. These services must be presented with a seal of transparency. High quality support services are recognized by their developed and implemented operations systems; the percentage of their self-generated income to total income; and by the cost and number of infra-structure projects funded by their internally generated funds.
INTERIOR, EXTERIOR: Upload Status
Yes, advantages await the school, but the university’s identity will still depend on the administration and how it will carry out and make it possible for the institution to attain optimum development.
The quality of education is important, and the administration should hire the best teachers in all its colleges. Case in point, for all its promise, the College of Education has until lately had an unsatisfactory passing rate of Board examinees. The regrettable part is that, as Atty. Sarmiento remarks, “Hindi naman tatanggalin yung mga dating professors, walang retooling na mangyayari.”
The quality of instruction is the grass roots of an academe. A change of name won’t conceal the weakness of CSC. In reality, the academe needs to check its interior and its wheels for whether or not they need vulcanization or total replacement. Else, we will be driving flat and travelling with a façade.
Catanduanes State University must picture out how a university must be—a university of high definition and not a pixilated one.
Karen Ailene P. Benavidez