WITH AGE comes wisdom – and a good academic reputation.

But aside from the the 100-year-old University of the Philippines and the 397-year-old University of Sto. Tomas which have consistently stamped their class as the top two higher education institutions in the country with a rich history of academic excellence, there are also other universities in the far off provinces that deserve a second look as far as performing well in various licensure exams is concerned.

Statistics from Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) in 2005 showed that Mariano Marcos State University in Batac, Ilocos Norte was the leading school in Region I, acing seven of 13 licensure exams, the highest of which was the 89-percent passing rate in Electrical Engineering. In all, it registered an average passing rate of 58 percent in 13 examinations that it participated in.

Mindanao State University (MSU)-Iligan Institute of Technology, MSU-General Santos, Bicol University-Legazpi, and MSU-Marawi followed suit with 57, 52, 49, and 47 percent overall passing rates.

Among private institutions, Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro, followed UST, with a batting average of 70 percent in 11 licensure exams. Its board exam result for agricultural engineers was the highest at 86 percent.

The other private universities that registered good ratings were Silliman University, Saint Louis University, Ateneo de Davao University, and Central Philippine University, which had an average passing rate of 66, 65, 62, and 60 percent, respectively.

The common denominator is that these schools have a long tradition of research, faculty development, and educational, rather than commercial pursuits.

Government versus private

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The PRC acknowledged UST as the top performer among private schools nationwide, tallying an 80-percent overall passing average and recording 14 high passing rates in 19 licensure exams.

However, UST’s passing rate fell a few notches short to that of state-run UP, with passing rates from eight campuses delivering an 85.3-percent overall passing rate, enough to be hailed as the best performing higher education institution in the country.

Three UP campuses – in Diliman, Los Baños, and in Manila – were also named by PRC as the top three government schools in terms of performance in board exams. The three all posted perfect scores on a number of licensure examinations.

UP students produce good results in licensure examinations because of the demanding academic requirements of the university, UP-Diliman Registrar Pamela Constantino said.

“Because of the usual students’ strenuous academic life in here, they are already being trained to be hardworking people,” Constantino said.

The former Commission on Higher Education (Ched) chairman, UST Rector Fr. Rolando de la Rosa, O.P., noted that the University has maintained its high stature considering the large number of UST examinees every year.

“Usually, UST is the highest in the rank of 100 and above examinees,” De la Rosa said. “For instance, medicine performs well because there are almost 500 examinees and most of them pass.”

In 2005, 456 Thomasians took the licensure examination for physicians and 384 passed, leaving UST with a passing rate of 84 percent. The University also produced 386 professional nurses out of the 411 examinees, with a 94 percent passing rate in the same year.

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UST produced a total of 2,409 new professionals that same year, much higher than the 1,979 professionals coming from the three leading UP campuses.

For the first three months of academic year 2008-2009, UST has already produced five top notchers in different licensure exams.

Figures from the PRC showed UST topping board exams in architecture, physical therapy, occupational therapy, nursing, and pharmacy with 68, 98, 84, 98, and 83 percent passing rates, respectively.

But despite the remarkable performance of Thomasians in the board exams, Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs Clarita Carillo believes “dominating” the exams is not enough.

“We are performing well, but we can always do better,” Carillo told the Varsitarian.

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