Universities and colleges here may adopt a new academic calendar and move the opening of classes to August, an official said.
Josefino Ronquillo, Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Region 7 Education Supervisor II, said schools that adopt a new calendar will have to notify the commission and ensure it meets its standards of excellence.
The University of the Philippines (UP) and Ateneo University announced this week that they will be adopting new academic calendars that will see the opening of classes move from June to August. UP will implement the new schedule for school year 2014-2015 while Ateneo will adopt it for the 2015-2016 school year.
On its Web site, the UP Board of Regents said seven out of its eight campuses will implement the change. UP Diliman has yet to announce its adoption of the new academic calendar as consultation forums have yet to be conducted among its stakeholders.
“As the UP system is an autonomous, chartered state university while Ateneo University is a privately run, sectarian college, they are free to implement these changes in the interest of international excellence and boosting educational linkage opportunities,” said Mr. Ronquillo.
“As long as the standards in instruction are not sacrificed, and the changes are beneficial to their clientel, then others may also adopt the change,” he added.
Included in CHED’s guidelines are the minimum number of 200 school days in a year and 17 lecture hours per unit of college credit in a term.
“As long as these guidelines are met, universities can set their own academic calendars and opening days,” said Mr. Ronquillo.
The adoption of the new academic calendar by two of the country’s top universities is expected to attract more foreign students to Philippine schools as it eliminates synchronization issues.
The August opening date is also in preparation for the upcoming realignment of the Philippine educational system as part of ASEAN integration in 2015.
Alicia Cabantigan, president of the University of Southern Philippines Foundation (USPF), said the opening of classes for school year 2014-2015 will be in June as the feasibility of the academic calendar change has yet to be thoroughly discussed.
“For now, we will still hold a survey with our own stakeholders. We would also like to listen to the inputs from other higher education bodies on the issue. Classes for 2014-2015 will open in June,” she said.
As of press time, the University of San Carlos has not yet commented on whether it will also adopt a new academic calendar.
Asked about concerns regarding the shortened time between graduation and licensure examinations as a result of the academic calendar change, Mr. Ronquillo said there is “nothing to worry about.”
“Last year, we were part of a multi-sectoral meeting regarding the new educational system and we spoke with representatives from the Philippine Regulatory Commission (PRC). Licensure exam dates are not fixed. They will always be adjusted to fit the vacation breaks of universities. We expect the PRC to adjust the exam dates as more universities adopt an August opening date for their classes,” he said.
Meanwhile, the shift of opening dates will not affect the UP Integrated school as well as four other high school units under the UP system.
UP Cebu public information officer Jason Baguia told BusinessWorld that the Board of Regents stipulated that the pilot testing period for the new academic calendar will last one year.
“At the end of the year, an evaluation will be conducted and the university will proceed from there,” he said.
Mr. Baguia said that the new academic calendar will allow faculty not to miss classes when they attend academic conferences and research opportunities that are usually conducted overseas in June and July.
“We also see this making it easier for our students who qualify for the many exchange programs we are entering into with other universities. It allows them to move about without being left behind due to synchronization problems,” he added.
UP Cebu will begin its 2014-2015 school year on Aug. 18. Enrollment will be on Aug. 11 to 15, while the first semestral break will be from Dec. 15 to Jan. 18. Second semester classes for UPs undergraduate and graduate schools will start on Jan. 19 and end on May 15.