THE GRADUATES have spoken: UST is getting better.

It may have landed on the 500th spot in the Times Higher Educational Supplement-Quacquarelli Symonds survey of the world’s best universities, but UST is still No. 1 in the hearts of Thomasians graduates.

With 4 as the highest score, the University garnered an over-all rating of 3.15, better than last year’s 3.13, based from the results of the Academic Year 2006-2007 Graduating Students Exit Survey, conducted by the Office of Planning and Development.

“I feel happy with the results. Really, we should be expecting that. We are doing our best through the collaborative efforts of the administrators, faculty members and the Dominican community, to really give students quality education,” UST Rector Fr. Ernesto Arceo, O.P. told the Varsitarian. “We are doing everything in our capacity to give you a good learning atmosphere in the campus.”

The survey asked graduating students to evaluate UST.

First conducted in 2001, the exit survey is divided in two major parts. The first tackles the faculty, curriculum, and facilities. The second part evaluates the support services of the University such as the Miguel de Benavides Library, Campus Ministry, Health Service, Guidance and Counseling, and Registrar’s Office, among others.

The College of Rehabilitation Sciences scored the highest in faculty (3.54), curriculum (3.52), and facilities (3.50), followed by the College of Nursing and the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery.

“We were quite surprised that we ranked first. We are very happy with the results, but of course, there is the pressure and the challenge for us to maintain it,” Rehabilitation Sciences Dean Jocelyn Agcaoili said.

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Agcaoili said the college would try its best to keep up with standards. Last summer, the three programs under the college—Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Sports Science—underwent curriculum and syllabus review.”

“We want our curriculum to be updated and we also intend to maintain the vertical and horizontal alignment of the curriculum, which means that the courses which are related should be taught at the same time to avoid confusion to the students,” Agcaoili said.

Meanwhile, in support services, the Guidance and Counseling Office scored the highest at 3.26, followed by Miguel de Benavides Library (3.22) and the Santo Tomas e-Service Providers (3.09).

Guidance and Counseling Office director Fr. Dioniso Cabezon, O.P. said he was surprised with the results.


Inadequate indicators

Despite UST’s reputation as a center of excellence in health care and studies, the UST Health Service scored 2.62, the lowest among the support-service departments.

“I was both disappointed and challenged by the results of the survey,” Health Service Director Dr. Salve Olalia said.

She said that the Health Service always lagged behind in the survey because the survey indicators for their department were not adequate to assess their performance.

“The supposed poor quality of service that the exit survey showed needs re-evaluation because our own feedback forms from our patients showed that majority of them are satisfied with our health care delivery,” Olalia said.

Olalia explained that majority of the doctors serving in the Health Service are proud alumni of the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, a Center of Excellence in Medicine.

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Olalia showed the Varsitarian a copy of the letter from the University planning office dated Jan. 4, 2007 requesting her to review the survey instrument. After Olalia reviewed the survey, she said she sent a letter to Engr. Alberto Laurito, former assistant to the rector for planning and development, last Jan. 17 requesting that the survey instrument be revised. But her recommendations were not adopted. According to Olalia, Laurito said that “the current survey form is already long and adding the proposed indicators might discourage the graduates from answering the survey.”

Olalia noted that the Guidance and Counseling Services, which ranked the highest in support services, has indicators that can fully assess its performance.

“We can accept recommendations from the departments; however, we have to consider the limited space in the survey,” Laurito said in a phone interview with the Varsitarian.

Laurito believed that indicator modification is possible, but “it will have to take some time.”

“In the survey, the Guidance has seven questions, a number beyond the limited five questions per department,” Laurito explained.

Olalia said she has again requested Laurito a revision of the instrument.

To make services more student-friendly, Olalia said she’s pushing for the renovation of the Health Service lobby and the repainting of the building’s facade, as well as the computerization of medical records, the purchase of new facilities, and the development of a website. She added she plans to expand the clinic’s operating hours to treat more patients everyday. Verity Ayrah B. Cabigao and John Constantine G. Cordon

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