One of the major effects the K to 12 system had on the University was the reduction of freshman applicants starting AY 2016-2017, leading to the so-called “lean years”. During lean years, the student population is lower than the usual number due to the addition of levels in high schools around the Philippines.
Although the drop in total student population is expected to last until AY 2021-2022, the University will already be expecting the standard number of freshmen by next AY 2018-2019. With the senior high school (SHS) program in place and other facilities being developed, DLSU prepares as its population begins to normalize again.
Normalization and the K to 12
University Chancellor Dr. Robert Roleda shares that the return to normalcy poses both a challenge and an opportunity. “Because the freshmen are coming back, these two years [AY] 16-17 and [AY] 17-18 are really a difficult time in all the universities in the Philippines. This will signal the return to normalcy. I think what is more important is the K-12 as an opportunity for all the universities in the Philippines to level up, to change our curriculum, to change the way we teach, to change the number of subjects that our students will have to take, so on and so forth,” he says.
As the K to 12 catches up with the college levels, the number of college applicants around the Philippines will surge. Nonetheless, Roleda clarifies that the population of accepted applicants will not actually surge, but will gradually normalize as DLSU will be taking in the original standard number of freshman that it took in before the lean years. This is to ensure that quality is preserved.
In line with the Commission on Higher Education’s (CHEd) changes in the General Education (GE) curriculum, DLSU will be fully implementing its new curriculum this 2018. Roleda shares that GE and foundational courses (i.e. pre-requisite courses) will be managed carefully to match the educational attainment of the students. “There will be a mechanism to make sure that people who need to take foundational courses will still do so and people who can skip the foundational courses will be able to do so,” he explains.
Furthermore, Roleda affirms that the entrance exam for the applicants has been revised to reflect the changes in the curriculum. Since high school students have different tracks under K to 12, the changes in the entrance exam would only take into account courses that are common to all graduates.
Although the lean years have affected the number of students in DLSU, the school was able to adjust its load for its professors. Roleda narrates, “The good thing is even with the decreases number of population, we are able to keep our professors. We are able to provide enough teaching load or other kind of load for all our faculty.”
In an interview in 2016, DLSU President Br. Raymundo Suplido FSC shared with The LaSallian that the lean years would result in a significant drop in income for the school, and a possibility of having to lay off members of faculty, primarily part-time teachers. To compensate for the decreasing load and to reduce lay-off, Suplido stated that teaching assignments including those in SHS were going to be given to faculty.
In light of the past year, the turnover has not been too significant. Roleda shares, “We did not have any massive lay-off. Whatever attrition we have for the faculty is the normal attrition. It’s expected that a certain number or percentage of the faculty will resign, retire, and so on. So there’s nothing beyond normal during the past two years, the professors will still be there after the lean years.”
Currently, the student population is projected to be at approximately 11,000, dropping from the usual 16,500. Roleda shares that there will be “enough space” facilities-wise to hold classes in the next two AYs, as full normalization is expected by 2021. However, DLSU will be finalizing its decision in 2018 on whether to keep the SHS program or not, which may affect whether or not there will be enough space by the time normalization comes to fruition.
Roleda shares the possibility that students will begin transferring from their high schools to university-operated SHS in various universities, as a way of starting their college educations. “DLSU accepted 1000 SHS students last year but there is another separate 5000. So, if you do not operate SHS, the question that you have to ask is: Will we have the quality students coming to us, because [if we do not operate SHS] will they not move to another university-operated SHS? The data will be available in 2018 so we will base our decision on that,” he explains.
“We have gathered data from which we can base our decision on. If we keep the SHS, of course we need extra facilities. We can [also] see that there are many needs of space that we have not yet able to address in the past. So, we are looking at the possibility of constructing new buildings”, Roleda explains.
According to Roleda, the new building will most likely be built behind the St. Miguel Hall building, near the Mutien Marie Hall building. Likewise, there are plans to redevelop the Br. Bloemen structure into a building with numerous floors as well.
“[The new buildings] will be built in phases if ever with the hope that by 2021, we will be able to build the top of the structures in the Mutien Marie [Hall] side and the Bloemen side, and then eventually tear down Miguel [Hall] to complete the structure. If we are able to do that, we will be able to address many of the needs for student activities space, research labs, and also classrooms and teaching laboratory facility,” Roleda explains.
In addition, the integration between the Laguna campus and the Manila campus might serve as an opportunity to address the facility needs of DLSU. Roleda shares that the application system for freshmen has been fully integrated between the two campuses, with a target of reaching 500 freshmen for the Laguna campus. If that target is consistently reached, the possibility of moving programs also arises. “Once we have a base population, let’s say 2,000, we can start thinking about transferring some programs completely or at least substantially to the Laguna campus,” Roleda posits.
All-in-all, the situation is an opportunity for DLSU to grow. Roleda states, “K to 12 is an opportunity for the Philippines to level up sa education system, and La Salle is positioning itself as a regional university. So, this is an opportunity for us to redefine our educational system, to change our curriculum, and to be at par with the rest of the region.”
Sentiments from the School of Economics
Dr. Inocencio, School of Economics (SOE) chair shared that the surge of students will most likely happen by AY 2019-2020 and not by AY 2018-2019. “I don’t think there will be ‘surge’ of freshmen next AY yet.” she mentions.
When asked if they lack manpower, Dr. Inocencio revealed that they do lack experts in certain fields. Despite of this, they want to be prepared of the surge that is about to happen by being open and also selective to hiring people with a Ph.D. in Economics, financial economists, experts on econometrics, and mathematical economists.