Editorial & Opinion

Asia’s laggard in education

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The latest results of the Quacquarelli Symonds University Rankings were disappointing but bore no real surprises. The Philippines, the rankings show, continues to struggle to maintain high educational standards against the rest of the world and Asia.

 

 

Only five Philippine establishments made it to the list of the top 300 Asian universities: the University of the Philippines at rank 67; Ateneo de Manila University at No. 109; University of Santo Tomas, at No. 150; De La Salle University, at 151-160; and University of Southeastern Philippines, at 251-300.

 

Not a single Philippine university made it to the top 10, and those that made the list of top 500 barely maintained their standings from 2012 or saw a decline.

 

Only four of the five Philippine universities made it into the QS list of top world universities: UP at 348, Ateneo at 451-500; and De La Salle and UST at 601+.

 

The Asian rankings rely on an institution’s academic reputation based on a global survey; its reputation as an employer; papers per faculty; citations per paper; faculty-student ratio; proportion of international students; proportion of international faculty; and proportion of in-bound and out-bound exchange students.

 

“Philippine universities have struggled to match the rapid development seen in countries such as China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Korea,” said Quacquarelli Symonds head of research Ben Sowter.

 

“Asia is one of the most dynamic and rapidly developing regions in the world, so the various cuts to university funding implemented since 2009 have made it very hard for Philippine universities to remain competitive.”

 

The company pointed to the rising ratio of students to faculty and a decline in influential research as areas of weakness.

 

The message of the QS rankings isn’t very difficult to understand. We reap what we sow, and in education, we have been woefully remiss.

 

Unlike other countries, we spend a scant 2 percent of our gross national product on education, when the United Nations recommends 6 percent.

 

Educational expenses have accounted for a declining share of the overall national budget, dropping below 15 percent for the first time in 2013. This was a far cry from 1955, when education accounted for 30 percent of the total budget.

 

To make matters worse, the Aquino administration seems enamored of the idea that the government can and should delegate its responsibility to educate our people under the Constitution to private companies, which are hardly regulated. The administration also continues to slash funding to state-owned universities and colleges. The results among some of the poorest state institutions is truly pathetic, with students that can barely keep up with their colleagues from rich, private universities.

 

President Aquino likes to boast that we are no longer the sick man of Asia, but a generation from now, when his misguided policies bear fruit, we could be among the most stupid. (Manila Standard)

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