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Philippines: new law encourages collaboration

The Philippine government has passed a law allowing overseas higher education institutions to set up education facilities in the country for the first time as a way of modernising its higher education sector and bring international quality standards and expertise into the country.

Photo: Ray in Manila/ Flickr

Branch campuses may only be established with a local partner, who must own at least 60% of the business

The Transnational Higher Education Act, passed in August and recently made public will see the Commission on Higher Education, “formulate a coherent national strategy to encourage and facilitate the establishment the most effective forms of TNHE programs and institutions in the country”.

“The newly legislated TNE Act signals openness of the Philippine’s HE system”

The bill hopes to make Philippine’s higher education “globally competitive”, while “attracting a flow of talented students, faculty, and staff and improving the country’s human resource base”.

The forms of TNE that the law opens up includes academic franchising, branch campuses, joint degrees, online blended and distance learning, Open Distance Learning, twinning and validation arrangements.

It also includes articulation, whereby students for a sub-degree in one country are guaranteed advance entry into a degree program in another country if they achieve an agreed level of performance in their studies.

“The state recognises that rapid development brought about by globalisation, including liberalisation of trade in goods and services and expanding use of information and communication technologies, has created a climate for borderless teaching and learning,” the law explains.

“The State shall actively encourage, promote, and accelerate the establishment of transnational higher education programs, the internationalisation of higher education in the country, and the development of the transnational higher education sector,” it continues.

Strengthened bonds with foreign institutions will foster a “vibrant exchange of cultures, conducive to peaceful living within the global community”, while students will benefit from additional valuable experiences, skill and knowledge as well as international diplomas, degrees and certificates.

Branch campuses may only be established with a local partner, who must own at least 60% of the business. Foreign citizens may hold up to 80% of academic staff and 40% of administrative staff, and international students must not comprise more than one-third of the enrolment.

The act also creates a Transnational Higher Education Division within CHED which was be tasked with formulating policies and guidelines, processing TNE applications, and conducting reviews and evaluating TNE performance.

In addition, under the rule changes, Philippine institutions will also be allowed to open campuses abroad.

Founder and director of Education Insight Janet Ilieva noted that the “much-awaited act” is a welcome development for higher education institutions in the region.

“It follows a successful pilot run by the CHED in collaboration with the British Council in Manila,” she explained.

The program, called ‘Joint Development of Niche Programmes through Philippine-UK Linkages‘, focuses on capacity building in niche subject areas, such as sustainable food systems, climate change, oceanography, meteorology, tropical medicine, design education, renewable energy.

“Over 100 postgraduate learners, mainly faculty staff, are expected to enrol,” Ilieva said.

“I believe the newly legislated TNE Act signals openness of the Philippine’s HE system and welcomes those interested to develop collaborative teaching programs with local institutions.”

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