Notes on Quality Assurance and CHED’s Proposed Typologies

After consultations internal to the Ateneo de Davao University and with representatives of the Catholic Eductional Association of the Philippines (CEAP) and the Coordination Council of Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA), whose formal positions on this issue shall be submitted to CHEd, I formally registered today our reservations to the recommendations proposed in the CHED Report, “Quality Education for Filipinos in a Globalized World: Towards and Outcomes and Typology Based Quality Assurance.”

While we are one with CHED in its drive for promoting improved quality higher education in our global world, the relevance of the forced reclassification of HEIs into five horizontal types to improved quality assurance is not apparent. Poor quality delivery is not assured by renaming the HEIs.

The horizontal line of HEI types, including the liberal arts college, the professional college, the university, the graduate institute, and the community college is presented as “value free.” However the peremptory stipulations for each of the types place more demand on one type rather than another. There are more demands on the university than on the community college, so that in terms of the objective contribution of the HEI to education in the country, one is presumably more valuable than the other. There is a greater excellence in the contribution of the well-performing university to the country than in that of the well-performing community college.

The market prefers the university. There is a premium in the global market and in society for university graduates – and this university premium should be allowed to be a normal part of the HEI positioning of itself in the market.

A university that has a mix of liberal arts and professional courses is also a service to the student who may wish to complement professional training with more human growth in liberal arts or vice versa. Or a focus in professional training may be complemented by training in the skills of commerce. This would be lost by a regulatory preference for types, that ultimately do not encourage the multi- disciplinary development of the university.

In an age where the interdisciplinary approach to learning and the discovery of new knowledge is so important, the types seem to keep the liberal arts/humanities speaking to themselves and the professions speaking to themselves. Just as it is not the case that the humanities delivers the world from poverty, it is also not the case that science and technology deliver the world from meaninglessness and loss of ethical moorings. Inter-disciplinary dialogue is not supported by the typologies.

An HEI that has painstakingly achieved university status and operates as a university, would not wish to lose it. It values the official CHED recognition of this status, and would not be content with CHED tolerating the use of the name, “university.”

There should be room in the national array of HEIs for diverse universities (not just diverse types of HEIs) that deliver quality at varying levels patronized by varying sets of clientele with varying income brackets. Not all universities perform with the privileged private resources of a De la Salle University or Ateneo de Manila nor with the privileged state subsidies of the University of the Philippines. But universities do perform acceptably, and can improve and mature over the years. No matter where universities now are, they should also be assessed for their history of improvement.

There should also be room in new national policy formulation on the university, including policy on universities which continue to retain official recognition and those which lose this, to consider the geographical spread of both public and private universities. In its mandate to provide greater access to higher education to greater numbers, CHED should cut more slack for universities which operate outside of Metro Manila, where university resources and personnel are concentrated, and especially for areas where higher education is scarce or more urgently needed for development. The typologies and their peremptory stipulations are all proposed by Manila educators and favor Manila HEIs. For such a sweeping reform proposal, much more genuine dialogue with serious educators nationwide should have been undertaken.

The CHED consultations, heavily packed with content to be disseminated, involving a couple of hours and multiple regions are not serious.

The university in the Philippines is not just an abstract quantum, but a constellation of people, many of whom give their lives for the life of the university.

Considering the histories of the universities, CHED should be able to discern the difference between the acceptable and the unacceptable university. Support and encourage the acceptable, withdraw university recognition from or close the unacceptable. It already has the legal mandate to do this

The large number of diverse universities in the Philippines is not scandalous in itself. What is scandalous is if some of these operate – through CHED permit or fiat of law – at sub-standard levels. If CHED is seeing substandard schools, prove it, and close them. Do not punish universities in actual service, or developing universities, for the inability of CHED to have closed those that have hopelessly deteriorated.

Historically, the “university” has evolved. The resulting diversity in university types belongs to the wealth of higher educational delivery in the Philippines today.
Universitas magistrorum et scholarum: communities (!) of teachers and scholars. Studium generale – place for studies for students from everywhere, “general or universal study”
Al-Azhar University, Cairo, 970
University of Bologna, 1088; University of Paris, 1150; University of Oxford, 1167
Ex: Christian cathedral schools and monastic schools
Italian universities focused on law and medicine; northern universities focused on the arts and theology
Northern universities more faculty governed; southern university were more student-governed
University of Sto. Domingo in Dominican Republic, 1538
University of Sto. Thomas in the Philippines, 1611
Harvard University, 1636
Good wrought by scholarly enterprise supported by kings, princes and leaders
Church, state, private universities
Humanism, Liberal arts, sciences, professions
Some universities specialized, others more general, others combined
In sum: “university” has appeared in many diverse modes.

The CHED proposal sets forth a single, rigorous understanding of the “university type”. It is not: one size fits all. It is rather, if you don’t fit into this size, even though we have recognized you as a university for a long time, you don’t fit anymore (because we have changed the rules).
Especially for universities which have evolved over the years after much struggle, with resources coming from re-invested capital and donations, developing from small schools to autonomous universities, the peremptory stipulations for university coming from this proposal are discouraging, demoralizing, and unfair.
Rather than deny existing universities which are developing positively their university status, help them develop into university types with various foci.
Certainly don’t penalize private universities doing well in their own right for the shortcomings of state universities or local universities called forth by legislation or ordinance!

While the performance of some universities may be sub-standard, other universities perform excellently. Others are performing well, and getting better. This should be recognized by CHED.
In a limited manner, it has recognized this through its “deregulated” and “autonomous” recognition in the past. But there have been no intermediate classifications. Unfortunately, many “autonomous” institutions will not make the proposed standard of the “university type”.
If CHED has had difficulty providing recognition and guidance when it was only dealing with universities and colleges and just autonomous and deregulated status, wouldn’t it have all the more difficulty in implementing this with five horizontal types and four vertical quality classifications?
The solution to meeting the sub-standard performance of some universities is not to raise the bar on all universities (as the “university type” does), but to address the sub-standard performance of poorly performing universities.
This includes sub-standard preparedness of teachers, inappropriate facilities, inadequate support services, poor libraries, internet access, and the like.
Realistically, it also involves the ability to pay for high-quality education: proper compensation for teachers, proper formation courses. Payment for quality higher education comes either from the state, from private sources or from a combination of the two. But it is unrealistic to expect improved outcomes of higher education without attending to the financial issues. The private university is able to invest in costly technical programs through earnings coming from bread-and-butter courses.

The solution is also not in re-organizing the universities according to types. For what is the clear nexus between the reorganization of HEIs into five types and quality output based on outcomes? Such a reorganization can take place, with the problem of poor performance being bypassed. After much pain in re-organization, the problems will remain. After a university has been re-typed into a community college, the quality of instruction may not have improved. Salaries may not be higher. The institutions may not be better able to attract more qualified teachers and pay them appropriately.

It would have been helpful if CHED had more clearly articulated the targets of its attempt at reform beyond the very general “complaint” of large number of universities, the mismatch between programs and market demand, and the like.

Fundamental, existing HEI “types” that are not addressed in this reform are state universities, local universities and private universities. The peremptory prescription of content and pragmatic outcomes-mandates to universities, as well as of structures attendant on these mandates, are more appropriate to state universities rather than private universities, where law provides that academic freedom be strictly respected (within of course a framework of reasonable regulation). Reasonable regulation, however, does not mean control.
CHED may be targeting proliferation or sub-standard performance of CSU and LUCs, but be ‘hitting’ the private universities. Or it may be targeting the sub-standard private universities and punishing the developing universities.

Accreditation provides a proven pathway to quality improvement. It is best when it is private and voluntary and encouraged by the community of responsible educators. CHED should not disturb HEIs already performing at acceptable standards, but should encourage them to develop further.

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About Joel Tabora, S.J.

Jesuit. Educator
This entry was posted in Philippine Educational Reform and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Notes on Quality Assurance and CHED’s Proposed Typologies

  1. great article Fr. tabora.

  2. Victor Michael Q. Balisi says:

    This is a paradigm shift… Kudos Fr. Tabora

  3. albert jubilo says:

    You presented a great article re CHED proposed typologies.

    But I find two important themes in justifications for the CHED typologies.
    1. to rationalize academic names and titles.
    2. to rationalize standards and development interventions for different types of HEIs.

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