University University Feature

Caught in between: Memorandum of Agreement in OJT

Last December 28, 2017, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) released its Memorandum Order No. 104, otherwise known as the Revised Guidelines for Student Internship Programs in the Philippines (SIPP) for all Programs. The new memorandum serves as a replacement for Memorandum Order No. 23 made in 2009, which provides the initial rules and regulations for those enrolled in practicum courses.

After the mandatory implementation of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) in On-the-Job Training (OJT) activities, DLSU complied with the memorandum order shortly after. CHED defines OJT, or internship, as the practical application of classroom learning in actual regular work environments.

Carlos Piocos III, the Literature Department’s practicum coordinator and Vice Chair during Academic Year (AY) 2017-2018, shares that the adoption of the guidelines caused hiccups in the department as faculty and staff members tried to catch up with the new process. Some students taking practicum were also not spared.

Out of the blue

Karen* (V, AB-CAM) narrates how multiple issues during her OJT eventually forced her to retake it. She says that the experience was already complicated even from the beginning: her options for OJT were limited because of very specific requirements demanded by her thesis adviser. The search proved itself too time-consuming, leaving Karen with only half a term, which was not enough to reach even just the minimum hours needed. Though initially deciding to drop her practicum, her adviser came around and allowed her to complete what little hours she could, which was then to be transferred to the following term.

But Karen hit another brick wall when she discovered the following term that a new MOA was needed. “During the time I started, this was not implemented yet, but when I already enrolled I found out that the [MOA] was needed already. Upon seeing the document, there were aspects that were not applicable to the OJT I was already undertaking,” she shares.

Step by step

In fulfillment of the CHED Memorandum, student interns nationwide are now required to submit an internship plan and a MOA to their respective Host Training Establishments (HTE) or companies prior to their practicum proper. The student MOA serves as a formal contract between the company and the student, while the institutional MOA acts as the formal contract between the HTE and the University. The internship plan on the other hand, describes what students will be doing for the duration of the OJT and the expected learning outcomes after the experience.

Upon applying to a company and being accepted, the student presents the student and institutional MOAs and the internship plan to the HTE for review and approval. The MOAs are exchanged between the company and the department, which is then forwarded to the Office of the University Legal Counsel (OULC) for review before all parties finally sign the agreements.

The agreement also states that the students must be monitored by both the HTE and DLSU during their OJT period to ensure the students’ safety. After a student accomplishes their OJT hours, the University must conduct a post-training review and an evaluation of the tasks performed by the student, the overall program, and the HTE.

Internship Coordinator Atty. Mike David reveals that the University received the CHED Memorandum back in late January. The OULC subsequently drafted policies and templates for the necessary procedures.

David explains how the office processes the required forms. The office first prepares MOA templates to be signed by the different parties. David then assesses the duration of the internship to determine the signatory; a year-long internship requires the signature of the College dean, while two years or more will require the signature of the Vice Chancellor for Academics. After these are completed, the Initial Review Form and Final Review Form are attached to the accomplished MOAs and sent to the OULC for another two rounds of revisions. Once approved, the student may claim their MOA and have the partner company sign it. The form will then be returned to the OULC for the final set of signatories.

Faculty concerns

Gary Mariano, who served as OJT coordinator for the Communication Arts Department, recounts that in AY 2008-2009, all ID 106 students were asked to undergo a three-unit practicum. Different departments came up with their own rules and regulations for practicum. They also had different documents submitted to the companies with different requirements.

Piocos says that during his term as Vice Chair and Practicum Coordinator of the Literature Department, the new process slowed down operations. “With the CHED-mandated MOA, all units have to follow the standard contracts, which is okay, but also, in a way, [it] disrupts what has been working for the [different] departments in the past years,” he explains.

Dr. Raymund Dimaranan, the current practicum head for the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business, admits that although it was more time consuming to accomplish, the new guidelines gave better guarantees for the safety and interests of both the students and the University. Prior to the revised guidelines from CHED, the Decision and Innovation Sciences Department only used one MOA for practicums based on official templates provided by the University. Now, they must have the institutional MOA, the student MOA, and the internship plan, all of which are reviewed by the University’s legal offices.

However, deadlocks can arise not only within the department but also with partner companies and institutions. According to Piocos, the most significant problem with the CHED-mandated MOA is that well-known companies and government institutions themselves are hesitant in signing MOAs that are not their own. Dimaranan echoes this concern, sharing that there were times that the University’s MOA was rejected by companies, forcing students to look for other companies to apply to instead. “It’s difficult, it’s very time consuming because the legal [counsel] will have to have ample time and extensive review of the other company’s MOA,” he shares.

Mariano nevertheless believes that the new CHED Memorandum does not affect the processes of his department’s practicum application. However, he does share the same sentiments as Piocos, saying that “the new process appears to be more complicated because the contract templates are longer and bulkier, some provisions of which may be subject to negotiations, and the contracts have to be notarized.” He also points out that students still have to secure the primary “institutional” MOAs themselves, which he thinks should instead be the primary responsibility of the University, the College, or their respective Departments.

Simpler avenues

When asked about how the Literature Department has dealt with these issues, Piocos explains that the MOA process was thoroughly learned in order to ensure a secure internship for the students. More in-campus sites were also included as options for OJT, with students still being able to “gain the same experience as they would have if they go [going] for off-campus internship.”

This could be another option for students as David mentions that students who are to take their internship inside the University will only need to submit a student MOA.

*Names with asterisks () are pseudonyms.

Roselin Manawis

By Roselin Manawis

Isabela Marie Roque

By Isabela Marie Roque

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