The University plans to permanently revise the academic calendar by 2015 in line with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) integration. It is currently on the proposal stage: a wide consultation is still ongoing, and nothing is final.
Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business (RVR-COB) Dean Dr. Ma. Andrea Santiago shares that by January or February, there should already a firm plan regarding the revision of the academic calendar. She even elaborates by saying, “We can decide not to change at all, depends on the kind of reaction we’re getting but initially how we’re positioning it is we’re removing summer [term].”
The proposed academic calendar, taking into account the common ASEAN practice, starts on August 31, 2015 (August start of week 4) and ends on December 5, 2015 (December end of week 1) for the first trimester. The second trimester starts on January 18, 2016 (January start of week 3) and ends on April 23, 2016 (April end of week 3, depending on Holy Week). Then the third trimester starts on May 9, 2016 (May start of week 2) and ends on August 13, 2016 (August end of week 1).
ASEAN 2015 integration
The Philippines being part of ASEAN has a responsibility to participate in the objectives of the ASEAN Economic Cooperation (AEC) 2015. AEC targets to have a single market and production base for the free flow of goods, services investment, capital and skilled labor. With the integration, there will be movement of people across different regions and countries and in terms of education, Filipino students and faculty can cross border into the universities in ASEAN countries.
The Philippines is one of the three nations whose academic calendars are not in sync with the remaining member countries. With aligning the calendars, it is expected to attain greater student and staff mobility, greater demand for quality programs, more collaborative research and curricular activities, competition for jobs and employment, higher employer standards, and a real race for university rankings, according to the University of the Philippines (UP)-Diliman website.
DLSU believes that the alignment allows them to develop joint degree programs. Meanwhile, UP sees that services rendered by different professionals can practice in any other member countries without restriction as well as jobs in the country are open to other ASEAN member countries.
For UP and Ateneo De Manila University (ADMU), as early as next year or in 2015, there will inevitably be a one-time five to six month vacation for students with this transition of academic calendars, as reported in Interaksyon.com. Also, this transition paves the way for schools and universities to move out the academic year out of the rainy season, June to August.
Specific details in the academic calendar
Revisions with the academic calendar have yet to be made final, although it is most likely that the one- month summer break students usually have will be taken out and replaced with a three- week term break in between. This gives way for easier transition for everyone, as the current term break schedule puts a strain on the physical resources and administrative processes in the University. Faculty members do not have enough time to improve their syllabi and conduct researches, and students are forced to quickly drop the lessons they learned the previous term to make way for the next.
Santiago adds that the transition will be easier for DLSU as it is already adapting a trimestral system. “It’s very easy for La Salle to shift into that because we’re already trimestral, we’re just sliding up,” she says.
On the first year of its implementation in 2015, the University will have a five-month break starting from March until September. While it will still have a term for those who have already enrolled and would want to finish, it will also offer bridging programs for high school students who graduated in March. These bridging programs will cover general education subjects and Lasallian Learning Outcomes to prepare them for college. The faculty will also benefit from this since the University plans to create training, development, and international exposure programs for them.
UP and Ateneo, propositions and strategies
UP has been coming up with a unified decision through holding a discussion in plenary rather than having breakout session by academic clusters. They answer one question, “In light of the AEC 2015, what should we do?”
According to an announcement on UP-D’s website, UP will plan to embark on a major change regarding their teaching pedagogy, quality assurance assessments, and curricular programs including the review of its General Education program. Some participants have raised their opinions and concerns ranging from the role of UP, the medium of instruction, academic calendar, research, benchmarking, curriculum, legislative/executive agenda, fiscal, infrastructure and logistics, admission, students, grading, internationalization, linkages and faculty development.
In terms of the impacts of the integration, the top suggestions for UP include the review and revision of curricula to identify and strengthen their weak programs, clarification of the definition of “international standards”, benchmarking with the offerings of similar institutions, revision of curriculum for professional education and to include ASEAN perspectives. Other suggestions cover assuring that UP graduates pursue entrepreneurship, developing new specialized programs with “Philippine” focus, improving UP’s ranking in the academic community in the region and strengthening “Filipino” education.
UP’s proposed academic calendar begins in third week of August and ends in the third week of December for the first semester. The second semester begins in the second week of January and ends in the second week of May.
While other universities change their respective academic calendars by 2015, UP Los Baños (UPLB) plans to implement their revised calendar at the start of school year 2014, if the UP Board of Regents approve the shift. This is not entirely a new thing for UPLB and UP Open University because they already have existing relations with some ASEAN universities, having adjusted calendars for some of their courses. However, in an Interaksyon.com article, Prospero De Vera III, UP’s Vice President for Public Affairs shared that the shift will be by 2015 but whether it will cover all campuses at that year will depend on consultations, as some UP campuses are working on a different calendar.
Meanwhile, ADMU’s case is a lot similar to DLSU’s. They are still in the deliberation process with their stakeholders and they are sure that it will not be implemented next school year of 2014. The Ateneo’s grounds to consider the shift are mainly based on internationalization. They want to synchronize their calendar with other ASEAN universities and in the world to facilitate greater mobility of students and faculty.
They also have set medium-and-short-term goals for the years 2030 and 2016 in seeking to create a “healthier diversity” in the community. These involve providing opportunities for student and faculty mobility, establishing joint and dual degree programs (similar to what DLSU aims to do), doing collaborative research, expanding outreach efforts to cover regional concerns, hosting and participating in international conferences and competitions, and internationalizing the curriculum.
Ateneo’s proposed calendar starts on August 10, 2015 and ends on December 12, 2015 for the first semester; and the second semester starts on January 18, 2016 and ends on May 21, 2016.
Generally, students in the University see the proposal in a positive light. Migi Moreno, the USG president furthers that some sectors are even excited about the shift, since this will also benefit the University in terms of overhead costs, such as electricity and salaries for summer faculty.
With the alignment of the academic calendar to that of universities abroad, this would also positively affect the University’s external linkages and internationalization. Santiago hopes that the University benefit from this the most so that exchange students and faculty would not be burdened with making several adjustments. “ It’s supposed to help both ways, which means we can send more people out and get more people in, that’s hopefully what we want,” she adds.
Some students though, worry about the conflicting schedules of their internship with the removal of the summer break, but Moreno assures that the administration would make the necessary modifications and considerations for students that could be affected by this change.