What to expect from August opening of classes

Posted at 02/06/2014 10:08 PM

MANILA - The shift in the academic calendar of the University of the Philippines (UP) System (except UP Diliman) from June-March to August-May paves the way for its “internationalization.”

UP Vice President for Public Affairs Prof. Prospero de Vera III said the university’s curriculum will remain the same come August, and anchoring the schedule with those of other ASEAN universities means “joint programs or new course contents and subjects…”

The change in the academic calendar has nothing to do with the typhoon season in the country, but is part of the an ASEAN action plan where UP is a part of, he said.

In a separate statement, UP explained that this action plan promotes the free flow of goods and services among ASEAN member-countries, thus leading to the harmonization of the academic calendar.

UP President Alfredo Pascual said the shift in calendar “will create more joint programs and partnerships with other universities, allow students to get transfer credits, particularly under ASEAN and ASEAN +3 Credit Transfer System (ACTS), and address the problem with semestral gaps with partner universities.”

He said UP is not just a partner with some ASEAN universities, but it also has partners in Europe and the US that follow the same academic calendar.

The shift in calendar also means an increase in students and faculty mobility, he said.

Pascual explained the change also coincides with the UP Charter.

The charter mandates the university to “serve as a regional and global university in cooperation with international and scientific unions, networks of universities…in the Asia Pacific Region and around the world.”

WHAT'S IN IT FOR STUDENTS?

In addition, the usual Christmas break of students will also now become their semestral break.

The first semester will start in August and end in early December. The second semester, on the other hand, will start early January and end in May.

Pascual said ending the semester in December and starting the second semester in January will thus create an “uninterrupted semestral system that will reduce transport costs for students who go home during the holidays.”

Students usually take a semestral break late October until early November and then go on another break for the Christmas and New Year holidays.

With the shift to August, graduating high school as well as college students will also have a longer break this year.
This period can thus be used for a longer bridging program for freshmen who may need classes in languages, science and math before they enter start classes in UP, Pascual said.

The decision to shift the schedule was arrived at during a Board of Regents meeting on Thursday. It will be on a pilot basis.

De Vera said seven campuses will implement the change:

UP Manila,
UP Los Banos,
UP Baguio,
UP Visayas,
UP Mindanao,
UP Open University, and
UP College in Cebu.

WHAT ABOUT UP DILIMAN?

Diliman, meanwhile, has yet to decide on the matter since more consultations with stakeholders have to be made. A forum will be held on February 10 where experts will discuss historical, cultural, climatic and international issues related to the shift in academic calendar.

De Vera said there is not one constituent unit that can dictate on the decisions of other units. He said the population of the rest of the campuses outside Diliman is more than 50% of the entire community.

Diliman may have to follow suit, however. Some stakeholders believe the academic calendar shift is already gaining ground.

The same could be said in other universities like De La Salle and UST, which are also part of the ASEAN University Network (AUN).

Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU) also announced the change in its academic calendar this morning. Its calendar shift will take effect in 2015.

Militant groups immediately blasted the decisions, saying this is part of the commercialization of education.

Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon said: “Actually, education tourism has been on the rise for some years now. But with universities in the country now aligning with the academic calendars of more foreign higher education institutions, we won’t be surprised if more and more foreign students start enrolling in our schools.”

He said there is nothing to rejoice about. Education tourism means skyrocketing tuition and other fees.