As one of the primary sources of research output, the development of a University’s graduate school is imperative to its success. With its thrust of becoming a world-class research University, DLSU is no different.
“The research aspect of what the University does is usually done in the graduate school,” explains former DLSU President and Chancellor Br. Jun Erguiza FSC.
He adds, “That is why in the undergraduate program you always make sure that the students produce their thesis or research. When they finish their undergraduate, they are supposed to continue that in the graduate level, presumably in the same field where they studied their undergraduate.”
In spite of DLSU’s thrust, however, the University has had difficulty in attracting quality students. Br. Jun shares that many students who enroll are not truly committed to research or academic excellence. He furthers, “Some of them are part-time and some just want to get a master’s or a doctorate because of work requirements. They do it for career advancement or better salary.”
Ramon V. Del Rosario-College of Business (RVR-COB) Vice Dean Atty. Christopher Cruz believes that this might be due to the significant number of practitioner-oriented fields in certain colleges. He says, “Except for the Master in Business Administration (MBA) program, [in the College of Business] we have very few students because most of the students want to work immediately. For the others, the less practical courses, either you are part of the research department of the company or an academician.”
“At the moment we cannot really be that selective because the number is not that many. If we’re serious about it, I guess we really just have to search out the students,” Br. Jun furthers.
Aside from the lack of committed students, some students in certain programs have also complained about the poor quality of faculty in certain departments.
Jeff Francisco (MMC, III) who took his undergraduate education at DLSU, had high expectations upon enrollment, but he was disappointed when he started taking classes. He expounds, “At times, it feels like professors assigned to teach certain subjects just took on the course without superior or extensive knowledge. Concepts are not well discussed, group works are utilized for majority of the course with students discussing what is in the book.”
Carlo Malabanan (MAE, I) shifted from his original course just after two terms. Like Francisco, Malaban was disappointed with the quality of the faculty. He finds little difference between graduate and undergraduate courses.
“It’s really there and hopefully they don’t stay. It’s more of the responsibility of the department and of course the students, because they give feedback,” admits RVR-COB Vice for Research and Graduate Studies Dr. Arnel Uy.
There have also been instances where students are forced to take a leave of absence, due to the lack of available faculty to teach certain courses. Madesa Palma (MMC, III) shares that she has had difficulty applying for special classes because of this. Palma adds that they were not properly oriented on the courses they had to take.
“In graduate studies, there is no specific academic assistant. It’s the department secretary that enrolls for you. This has caused problems with getting information regarding the courses to take. Some of my classmates had to stop taking certain classes because they were not aware that there were prerequisites,” shares Kent So (TCPEDUC, I).
Br. Jun, however, believes that such cases are not truly reflective of the University’s programs as a whole. Certain departments and colleges have made efforts to not only develop its faculty, but also improve in other areas as well.
Dr. Eric Batalla, graduate studies coordinator of the Political Science Department, shares that they have been recruiting many faculty with doctorate degrees to teach over the last three years. Batalla also shares that they plan to introduce new programs in the future.
Certain departments have also started offering ladderized programs, which allow students to advance to the graduate degree program counterpart of his undergraduate course. The new program has helped the University attract more students in its graduate studies programs.
In terms of faculty experience, most professors focus either on the terminal years of the undergraduate students or the graduate level. Br. Jun says, “They’re research faculty. We have topnotch faculty that are concentrated on research and they’re there in graduate school.”
The University has also started offering fellowship grants to help attract quality students. Qualified students who enroll in one of the fellowship programs will be offered financial incentives along with the research work that they have to produce. “The fellowship is all about asking a qualified student to study. It’s competitive. We tend to get the best among the bunch,” shares College of Liberal Arts (CLA) Vice Dean Dr. Feorillio Demeterio III.
Another issue many graduate students have complained about is that graduate studies do not give importance to the crediting of classes. To advance into the next class, students do not necessarily have to take the prerequisite subject.
Jia Jia Shi (MAE, I) however argues, “The program with such design provides convenience to student especially to those who are working. It would also be the student’s responsibility to make assessment on the course offered on the designated term.” Shi also thinks that students read in advance especially if they do not have any background while professors are expected to adjust to assure that everyone is on the same page.
Uy explains that the practice is common to many graduate schools around the world.