UP, Ateneo classes to start in August
MANILA, Philippines—Two of the country’s top schools—the University of the Philippines (UP) and Ateneo de Manila University—announced on Thursday a change in the academic calendar, shifting the opening of classes from June to August.
Classes at UP in Manila, Los Baños, Baguio, Cebu, the Visayas and Mindanao, and UP Open University will start in August and end in May, but UP Diliman, which has “not completed consultations,” and UP Integrated School will still follow the old schedule.
The first semester will run from August to December, the second semester from January to May, and a short term from June to July.
Ateneo will start the new schedule in academic year 2015-2016 in the Loyola Schools and the Professional Schools.
Ateneo Grade School and High School will retain the June to March academic calendar.
Response to globalization
The UP and Ateneo school systems said they would adopt the August to May academic calendar as a response to an “increasingly globalized world.”
“The decision to shift the academic calendar is part of the continuing efforts of UP to develop into a regional and global university, and to maximize the opportunities offered by Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) integration and global educational partnerships,” UP president Alfredo Pascual said in a statement.
The shift to the new school calendar for the next academic year was approved by the UP Board of Regents in a meeting on Thursday, according to the Philippine Collegian, UP Diliman’s official student publication.
Of the units in the UP system, only UP Diliman will retain the present academic calendar of June to March “due to opposition by some sectors [there],” the Collegian said.
A consultation for UP Diliman students on the proposed calendar shift is scheduled for Feb. 10.
Student regent Krista Melgarejo, who attended the Board of Regents meeting, said UP Diliman would thresh out issues raised by some sectors, including the University Council, on the proposed change.
Melgarejo said the proposed change would be subject to a “referendum” on the Diliman campus.
She opposed the change in the academic calendar, saying “the majority of UP students was not consulted.”
The student regent said changing the academic calendar was just a way of jumping on the “bandwagon of the skewed logic of internationalization.”
In a statement posted on its Facebook page, Ateneo said the Board of Trustees approved the shift for the Loyola Schools and the Professional Schools in a meeting on Feb. 5.
The new calendar will take effect in school year 2015-2016, it said, after an “internal study and intensive consultations over the last eight months” with stakeholders, including faculty members, administrators, students and parents.
Ateneo said the implementation of the new calendar would align its schedule with that of “more than 80 percent of its current university partners overseas” and with that of “more than 70 percent of all universities around the world.”
This would “facilitate” the “mobility” to and fro of students and faculty members, and facilitate collaborative academic programs and research, said the Jesuit-run university.
“Ateneo needs to ensure that our graduates develop a global outlook and global competencies so that they can navigate a more complex, interconnected world and contribute toward resolving global concerns,” Ateneo president Jose Ramon T. Villarin said in the statement.
For the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd), the two “autonomous” universities were within their rights to make the change.
“If they’re (UP and Ateneo) really prepared to [push through with this], then go ahead,” CHEd Executive Director Jules Vitriolo said over the phone.
He made the statement although a technical working group (TWG) was still studying the implications of a proposed shift in academic calendars.
The TWG was supposed to submit its report in March.
According to Vitriolo, UP and Ateneo could “exercise discretion” without waiting for the report since their decision to change academic calendars was “quite justified.”
He said both “world-ranking” institutions would benefit from the shift in the form of “more synchronized” links with international universities.
“Maybe only a selected few [can exercise discretion to change their academic calendars],” he said, adding that these institutions should be “deserving” and with “consistently high standards.”
Vitriolo said the report would look into the implications of a change in academic calendars “on a wider scale.”
But even before the release of the report, Vitriolo was quick to add that the CHEd did not encourage a “wider scale change” in academic calendars.
Years of preparation
“This changing of academic calendars requires years of [preparation]. Not just anyone can change the calendar. It will do more harm [if this is the case],” he said, adding that the Department of Education would not adjust its schedule.
According to Vitriolo, there may also be implications for UP and Ateneo now that they have approved the change in academic calendars.
There may be an overlapping of the schedule of some Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) board exams with the new school months, he said.
Villarin acknowledged that this was true, particularly with the law, medicine and electronics engineering licensure exams.
He said, however, that Ateneo was “dedicating one-and-a-half years to work through these concerns thoroughly and systematically.”
“We are confident that we will be ready by 2015,” Villarin said.
Vitriolo said UP and Ateneo “may have to request” the PRC for a special exam to deal with this problem.
It’s either this or the examinees will have to wait longer, he said.
He added, however, that this was “not a major complication.”
Asked whether there would be an effect on the number of local enrollees who become “tired” of waiting for a long time before the opening of classes, Vitriolo said, “I don’t think so.”
He said many students would like to get into UP and Ateneo, and would be “willing to wait” for months.
He acknowledged, however, that there may be an increase in the number of foreign students because the two universities’ schedules are aligned with those of international institutions.