P40B needed to improve quality of higher education

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) sounds the alarm on the deteriorating quality of higher education in the country due to sub-standard facilities and lack of qualification of faculty members.

CHEd chair Dr. Emmanuel ‘Manny’ Angeles said if the present trend continues and no intervention is done, it would take about 10-20 years to rehabilitate the country’s higher education sector.

Angeles disclosed that at the onset CHEd needed about P40 billion for the next five years to improve the quality of higher education in the country to make it at par with the rest of the world.

He said the amount will be on top of the regular annual funding that the commission gets from Congress and will be used not only to upgrade facilities and equipment in colleges and universities but also provide for scholarships for students and teachers alike.

“The amount of P40 billion would be used for the higher education modernization funding requirements for the next five years which covers student scholarship, faculty development, research and development, facilities upgrading and quality assurance,” Angeles said.

He said that P8 billion in annual funding should be made available to CHEd so that it can proceed with the upgrading of the country’s higher education, adding that the present budget of P1.5 billion is not enough to met all the needs and requirements, especially with the continued increase in enrolment in state-run universities and colleges.

Of the amount, the biggest portion, about P14 billion will go to scholarships, P8 billion for faculty development, P5 billion for research, P4 billion for upgrading of facilities and P4 billion for quality control which includes the establishment of a national accreditation system and the Institutional Quality Assurance Monitoring and Evaluation.

Another P5 billion will go to the establishment of the Philippine Center for Engineering, Science and Technology (PCEST) at 1,000-hectare lot inside the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga.

The center, according to a CHEd briefing paper will “train Filipinos to be world-class engineers and scientists for masters and Ph.D degrees.”

Angeles also disclosed that they intend to expedite sourcing of funds not only from Congress but even from Official Development Assistance (ODA) loans from Australia, Japan, South Korea and China.

Angeles said CHEd is set to negotiate for ODA soft loans amounting to $200 million within the year.

He said CHEd would also tap “innovative” funding sources such as forging linkages with the private sector and the business community and more grants from local and foreign entities.