Time to level up.
Six colleges are currently preparing for re-accreditation from the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (PAASCU), with the formal survey visit scheduled on February 2013. These six include the College of Computer Studies (CCS) the College of Education (CED), the College of Liberal Arts (CLA), the College of Science (COS), the School of Economics (SOE), and the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business (RVR COB).
PAASCU is a member of the Federation of Accrediting Agencies of the Philippines (FAAP), and educational institutions all over the country become members of associations such as PAASCU in order to assess their needs as an institution based on internationally recognized standards in educational management. DLSU is one of the eleven charter members who founded PAASCU.
PAASCU accreditors visit established institutions such as DLSU every three years, after every favorable rating, based on a formal survey visit by educators, administrators and other educational professionals who compose the PAASCU surveying team.
For DLSU, PAASCU is a chief concern for the Institutional Accreditation and Assessment (IAA) office, which is tasked to coordinate the preparations and compile the many requirements of assessors. Dr. Wyona Patalinghug, Director of the IAA, shares, “When we got the report, all the recommendations were sent to the different offices concerned, and the concerned persons call for general meetings, and follow-up meetings.”
Meetings in preparation of PAASCU and other accreditations are a responsibility of another committee established only two years ago, the Accreditation and Assessment Quality Assurance Report (AAQAR). The President, who should follow up the resolutions of each meeting, heads the AAQAR.
Patalinghug explains that a lot of the difficulty for PAASCU lies with the compilation of documents, or exhibits, that are used for assessment. These documents should cover all the eight areas examined by PAASCU: faculty, administration, curriculum and instruction, student services, library, physical plant, facilities, as well as goals and objectives.
The way PAASCU re-accreditation works is that it is basically an assessment using numerous instruments, distributed to faculty, staff, and students that gauge their opinion on certain areas. The results are measured, and coupled with the on-campus validation that is done by the surveying team, the ‘grade’ of the University is classified according to their rubric.
The lack of exhibits that are presented to the assessors serves as a big opportunity cost. “If you say that you are doing this activity, and we have many, then you have to provide the documents for it,” continues Patalinghug in Filipino.
“If you say you have this activity, for example, but then don’t have the documents, then it’s not counted. So to gather them is quite difficult, because you have to document everything you say. So what happens when people say, ‘Oh, I’ve thrown it already!’ or “Oh, we lost our copy!’? Whether small documents or large documents, we have to be very systematic about documenting everything.”
Patalinghug also adds that in the assessment, sometimes, members of the community give undue criticism that paint an unfair light on the institution’s actual performance. “Sometimes, we cannot help if there are faculty or other members of the community who [do that]. We can’t touch that. What they write, that’s what we give. When [PAASCU assessors] come for the visit, they will validate.”
PAASCU accredits individual programs as well as entire institutions. The last visit of PAASCU in 2010 saw the re-accreditation of the University’s academic programs at level III, as well as DLSU’s institutional re-accreditation at level IV, the highest-level accreditation that PAASCU offers.
Albeit the first university to be accredited by PAASCU at level IV, DLSU’s institutional credit as a level IV University is no longer unique. The Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) has, as of November last year, been re-accredited as a level IV institution, with 21 of its programs re-accredited not at level III but at level IV.
For a university to become level IV, it must first be re-accredited level III. “After we are re-accredited for level III, we will apply for a level IV re-accreditation,” assures Patalinghug.
More recently, the Gokongwei College of Engineering (GCOE) and RVR COB’s graduate school had undergone the accreditation process as early as the 3rd term of AY 2011-2012. Whereas four GCOE programs had applied for level IV status, only three had been granted PAASCU level IV status: Civil Engineering (CIV), Electronics and Communications Engineering (ECE), and Industrial Engineering (IE).
Chemical Engineering (CHE) remains certified level III, while the Mechanical Engineering and Management (MEM) program was given initial accreditation at level I.
The MEM degree, which combines the study of both manufacturing engineering and management, is the first of its kind offered in the country that is accredited by PAASCU, hence the level I accreditation.