There will be no more summer terms offered for students, explains Vice Chancellor for Academics Dr. Robert Roleda.
This comes as a result of the academic calendar shift, implemented a year ago in line with the 2015 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) integration. To bridge the gap between the four-month break between the third term of academic year (AY) 2014-2015 and first term of AY 2015-2016, an 11-week special term was offered to students from May 6 to July 30 last year.
According to former DLSU President and Chancellor Br. Ricky Laguda FSC, the objective of the shift of the academic calendar from May to August is to keep pace with universities in the ASEAN University Network (AUN) and other counterparts abroad. The University of the Philippines, University of Santo Tomas, and Ateneo de Manila University are just some of the universities that have also implemented the calendar shift.
Changes brought about by the shift
Dr. Roleda mentions that the calendar shift resulted in only a relabelling of the trimesters. “If you think about it, what used to be second term is now first term, third [term] now second. So in terms of the length, scheduling is almost the same. It became more like re-labelling, which I think is more natural,” he explains.
Prior to the shift, the trimesters of the University lasted for 14 weeks each, while trimestral breaks lasted for two weeks. One of the disadvantages of the academic calendar shift that was highly debated among members of the community is the shorter term break. On the length of the current term breaks, Dr. Roleda clarifies that the duration is the same with respect to the breaks prior to the calendar shift.
“That’s why we introduced the fourth hour, to make sure that our term breaks will [last for] at least two weeks,” Dr. Roleda further explains. As explained in a town hall meeting last September, fourth hour activities include alternative sessions like tutorials, enrichment classes, and lectures prepared by faculty members.
On the removal of the summer term, Dr. Roleda counters that the special term has already addressed the concerns raised by students regarding taking summer classes as per their respective flowcharts. He adds that, for the subsequent terms, departments in the different colleges of the University should have already adjusted to this change. He also explains that a new curriculum scheme, already under study, will be offered by 2018. This “decongested” curriculum seeks to bring down the total number of units to be taken by students, and therefore lessen the number of units taken per term.
Evaluating the shift and its implications
The implementation of the calendar shift elicited mixed reactions from the community. Some students believed that term breaks would be longer while some thought otherwise. Students collectively thought that the duration of term breaks were inconsistent, which demanded more adjustments on their part.
The calendar shift also caused a conflict among students who plan to go to medical and law schools, especially for those who are graduating. Since there is an overlap of schedule with the opening of classes of several medical schools and law schools, the term for these students is rushed. Pre-med student Zenn Ang (III, BS-BIO) expresses that their term was shortened to just eight weeks long instead of the normal 14 weeks just so their batch could graduate early and be able to enroll into a med school in time.
However, there are students who believe the academic calendar shift proved to be advantageous. Erika Leana So (III, AB-CAM) shares that one of the advantages of the academic calendar shift is the increase in external opportunities since DLSU’s calendar is aligned with that of universities abroad.
Other than students, professors were also greatly affected by the shift. A professor from the Filipino Department who wishes to remain anonymous mentions that the difference of schedule with most of the country’s universities is disadvantageous for both the students and the professors. Mostly, her concern is about faculty members experiencing difficulty in securing a job in different universities, especially for those looking for part-time work.
Meanwhile, Dr. Jeremy De Chavez from the Literature Department shares that it is too early to tell whether the shift benefits the University or not. “I could definitely see why we need to do it,” he says, however.
In light of the ASEAN integration, Dr. Roleda expresses that a drastic change has yet to be felt by the University. He indicates that the change will take time as there is still little exchange between the University and its Southeast Asian counterparts.
Looking forward, Dr. Roleda hopes for the University to continue relations with its partner universities abroad. “We are thinking that there are programs that [we can] market regionally. For example, game development, our new program. I think that has a good market regionally,” he shares, “so aligning the calendar would be useful in terms of attracting students.”