Earlier this year, DLSU President Br. Raymundo Suplido FSC announced the University’s goal of focusing on the accreditation and reassessment of several college departments by the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (PAASCU). Among the departments included are the Industrial Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Political Science, Chemical Engineering, Economics, and Software Technology departments.
PAASCU is an organization whose objective is to accredit academic programs that are able to reach their educational standards, particularly on the areas of volunteerism, self-regulation, evaluation techniques, and quality. The organization consists of seven commissions, namely, Graduate Education, Medical Education, Engineering Education, Tertiary Education, Integrated Basic Education, Secondary Education, and Elementary Education.
The responsibilities of the commissions include planning projects for each level of accreditation, revising survey instruments, and training their accreditors. According to their website, the survey instruments being distributed by PAASCU are qualitative in nature and more emphasis is placed on the institution’s purpose and objectives.
DLSU’s current standing
As of press time, eight programs of DLSU hold a Level IV accreditation status according to the PAASCU website. These are the Accountancy, Business, Computer Science, Economics, Elementary Education, Secondary Education, Liberal Arts, and Science programs of the University.
On the other hand, the Level IV accreditation status for the Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electronics Engineering, Industrial Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering programs ended in November last year, which is why some of these programs are currently undergoing re-accreditation.
Meanwhile, the graduate programs in Liberal Arts, Science, and Education have a Level III accreditation and the Manufacturing Engineering and Management program has a Level II accreditation. The master’s and doctoral programs in Business Administration are candidates for accreditation.
The DLSU Quality Assurance Office (QAO) works primarily on the assessment and accreditation of the University. It is responsible for coordinating and fulfilling the requirements of accrediting organizations such as PAASCU.
DLSU QAO Director Dr. Gerardo Largoza shares, “The job of PAASCU is to subject Universities like ours to certain quality standards and to see whether undergraduate programs [and] graduate programs meet these standards. If the programs meet these standards, then they will receive accreditation for a number of years. Then after that accreditation elapses, PAASCU visits again as the universities apply for re-accreditation.”
In the process of accreditation, PAASCU visits institutions like DLSU every three years and brings with them the results and recommendations. The results confirm if the institution’s programs are re-accredited or not, while the recommendation provides a list of aspects which the institution can improve on. Furthermore, these recommendations include instruction, full-time, and part-time faculty ratios, infrastructure, health and safety standards, and library resources, among others.
For the recommendations provided by PAASCU, Dr. Largoza confirmed that committees are created in order to deliberate and work upon such concerns. He expounds, “See, we have committees formed within those years, within the coming years, to address them. These are discussed in all sorts of councils—the President’s Council, the Academics Council, right down to the college deans, department chairs, over the years. So by the time the next visit comes along, we can show that we have addressed PAASCU recommendations.”
According to Dr. Largoza, preparations for PAASCU accreditation are done in two separate phases—short-term and long-term. In the short term phase, the necessary documents will be compiled to make a report that will be submitted to PAASCU. On the other hand, the long-term phase involves several categories of membership, such as the applicant status, candidate status, and member status.
The applicant status is the stage where an institution is required to improve on certain aspects as recommended by PAASCU. The candidate status is granted to institutions which have completed the preliminary survey visit and which are preparing for initial accreditation. At this stage, there is no assurance for immediate accreditation, and it only signifies that the institution is progressing towards accreditation. Lastly, an institution that has fulfilled all the requirements will be granted the member status.
Privileges of accredited schools
There are several advantages, benefits, and entitlement to services when a university or college attains accreditation from PAASCU. Aside from gaining a better reputation, universities and colleges would be entitled to PAASCU’s consultancy services, in which accredited institutions are assisted in their self-survey process and preparation for survey visits.
Another is assistance to institutional programs, through which PAASCU organizes trainings, seminars, and conferences in different areas. Lastly, PAASCU helps the accredited institutions establish a liaison and coordination with the Department of Education and Commission on Higher Education regional offices.
Dr. Largoza clarifies that the University has been involved in PAASCU accreditation for a long time and that this is not something new. He described it as “part of the normal cycle” wherein reaccreditation is needed as the previous one expires. Furthermore, the process of renewing accreditation is not done all at once for all undergraduate programs.
“Our hope for La Salle is we don’t just receive accreditation as overall accreditation from PAASCU or [the ASEAN University Network], but we’re hoping every college based on their discipline whether it is the sciences or the liberal arts or education, we should find disciplinal accreditation because in many ways it’s stricter,” he concludes.