News Release

PBBM’s 1st-year achievement in higher education ‘significant’

MANILA – Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairperson J. Prospero de Vera III said verifiable success indicators show significant achievement in six areas of the higher education sector during the first year of the administration of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.

“We picked the six because they have verifiable data that can be checked. Meaning, we can compare how many were achieved in one year versus the previous years,” he said during a Palace briefing on Tuesday.

De Vera made the statement after the CHED presented its accomplishment reports to the President in Malacañang ahead of the State of the Nation Address (SONA).

He said although the administration’s achievements are not limited to six areas, remarkable results are worth noting in the past year.


Increased access to higher education

“The first one is Universal Access to quality tertiary education, which means that we have increased access to free public education in the more than 200 public universities and colleges,” he said.

He, however, noted that the administration should still work on equity to ensure marginalized groups’ access to competitive education.

“We are pushing that for the next five years, we will focus on inclusive education by telling our public universities to be very conscious in identifying students from public schools, students from poverty areas, the children of indigenous people, those have been marginalized, to assist them (to) pass the admission test because once they get into public education, they don’t anymore pay tuition and miscellaneous fees and they can be assisted,” he said.

De Vera underscored the need to create appropriate policies that would result in increased access to higher education.

To date, the country has 41 percent university participation, higher than the 2015 to 2016 data of about 30 percent.


Maritime education

The CHED also cited its achievement in compliance with the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) after the European Commission recognized the Philippines’ seafarer training and certification system.

“Second one is our achievement in compliance with the MSA non-compliance issue. So we continue to improve and make maritime education in the Philippines world-class,” de Vera said.

The CHED is ramping up its reviews and inspection of 83 High Education Institutions (HEIs) offering maritime programs in the Philippines to ensure compliance with maritime standards.

De Vera assured that the administration is implementing due process before closure, as well as the provision of reconsideration.

“Before you decide to close the program, you have to go through an inspection, you have to go through validation, you have to give them a show cause order to explain the deficiencies that they have and there is even a process for them to seek reconsideration,” he said.

Earlier, the CHED pledged to work closely with the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) to improve the maritime curriculum to “narrow gaps and issues” observed by the EMSA.


Nursing, medical programs

The CHED also highlighted efforts to improve the nursing and medical programs offered in the country.

“The third one is our achievements in terms of addressing the nursing education issue, particularly in coming up with long-term, medium-term, and immediate actions that can be done to address the shortage of Filipino nurses,” de Vera said.

For the immediate solution, nursing graduates who failed to pass the licensure exams are being eyed to be granted access to competitive review classes through the CHED’s agreement with the health department.

Furthermore, the creation of a certificate or diploma program to produce health care associates or assistants, as well as the fast-tracking of master’s degree programs to produce more nursing teachers is seen as a medium-term resolve.

“The medium-term is we are working with TESDA (Technical Education and Skills and Development Authority), to create what we call health care assistants and health care associates,” he said.

De Vera noted that lifting the CHED’s 10-year moratorium on the creation of new nursing programs would produce more nursing graduates in five to six years, which is the commission’s long-term strategy.

He said about 55 universities in the country have applied to CHED for the reopening of nursing programs.

“The fourth one is expanding medical education to students who are interested to serve in the country,” de Vera added.

He cited changes made under the Marcos administration, including the opening of medical programs in public universities and offering scholarships with state-of-the-art facilities.

“Under the Duterte administration, four were produced or four programs are opened in five years. Under the Marcos administration, six medical programs are opened in one year,” he said.

He noted that there are now 18 medical schools in state universities and colleges (SUCs) that are expected to produce graduates who would also cater to the country’s underserved areas.

“Out of the 18, the original number was eight under the Duterte administration, four were produced or four programs are opened in five years. Under the Marcos administration, six medical programs are opened in one year. So we really presented those where there was a significant difference,” he said.

He said the new medical schools offer scholarships and have state-of-the-art equipment to produce world-class nurses and doctors.

STEM, HEI internationalization

De Vera also highlighted the Marcos administration’s work in boosting the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) programs, as well as increasing global linkages.

“We’re looking for programs where we can produce world-class Filipino manpower to take advantage of the niche needs in the global market,” he said.

Just recently, the CHED witnessed the signing of several memoranda of agreement between Philippine HEIs and their international counterparts.
Among those pacts are the translational partnership in various programs between Miriam College and Camosun College in Victoria, British Columbia; and the deal between the Philippine State College of Aeronautics (PhilSCA) and the World Citi Colleges (WCC), in partnership with the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) for the aviation and aircraft industry.

De Vera said more agreements are expected to come until the scheduled International Conference in Canada in November.

The CHED pledged to assist the country’s HEIs in securing more international partnerships to increase global opportunities for students’ learning and actual training.

“Those were the six areas that we discussed with the President, and we identified the verifiable success indicators and data to show that in the first year of the Marcos administration, there was a significant achievement and change in terms of the higher education sector,” de Vera said.

The President will deliver his second SONA on July 24 during the joint opening of the second regular session of the 19th Congress. (PNA)