THE EVOLUTION of society and industry will constantly demand the improvement of the quality of education. And like any school, UST has to keep up with the times.

Recent reports show that all colleges in UST have made modifications on their curriculum except for the Faculty of Civil Law, Faculty of Engineering, and College of Science, which are all preparing for major changes that will be implemented next school year. However, The Faculty of Medicine and Surgery did not disclose information regarding any new changes to their curriculum. (See Sidebar)

On the other hand, the College of Nursing has not made any dramatic changes to its set of courses while the College of Accountancy, being a new college, has not made any changes yet.

Evolution of Education

The College of Architecture, in accordance with a recently passed law that requires architecture board exams to contain subjects such as Landscape and Tropical Architecture, and Interior Design, has changed the subjects this year’s freshmen will take. It has also integrated subjects like Building Technology, which tackles blueprint making, with Building Utilities,to make its curriculum more effective.

Meanwhile, the College of Rehabilitation Sciences (CRS) has broken down subjects that cover too many topics, due to the difficulty they cause.

The Faculty of Arts and Letters introduced Latin in its Philosophy department and distributed advanced subjects like Political Dynamics, Political Theory, Thesis Writing, and Research Methodology to the lower levels in its Political Science and Social Science programs.

Offering new programs are the Colleges of Commerce, Education and Music.

Education students under the Elementary and Secondary Education program can now major in Early Childhood Development and Special Education. Education has also increased the units of its major subjects in the Elementary Education and Secondary Education department, from 30 to 60, pursuant to a Commission on Higher Education (Ched) memorandum, according to Dean Clotilde Arcangel.

Also, students in Music can now take up Bachelor of Music in Jazz studies.

Meanwhile, Commerce has a new program, Entrepreneurship and Ethics Education towards Equity, which aims to train students to sell affordable goods and services through ethical ideals, according to Dean Jeanette Loanzon. It also increased the number of research subjects in its Economics program.

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The College of Fine Arts and Design (CFAD), for their part, added new topics to their computer subjects such as Computer Aided Design, Computer Editing and Animation.

The really major changes, however, are in the Faculty of Pharmacy.

The Faculty’s Pharmacy program replaced subjects like Art Appreciation, Calculus, English 104 (Oral Communication Skills), Literature 102, Physical Chemistry, Psychology, and Zoology with new subjects like Bioethics. Logic Pharmaceutical Cares 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, Pharmainformatics, and Pharmacy Entrepreneurship in line with a more patient-oriented curriculum, according to newly appointed Faculty of Pharmacy Dean Priscilla Torres.

The Faculty also reinforced subjects such as Biochemistry, Botany, and Microbiology-Parasitology with Pharmaceutical components

School Sovereignty

Targeting a more streamlined education system, the University can constantly change its curriculum after Ched gave it autonomy five years ago.

“Ched recognizes UST’s competitiveness and competence, which is why it included our school in the list of deregulated Universities, enabling us to improve our quality of education more effectively,” Vice Rector for Academic Affairs Dr. Armando De Jesus said. “We are now enjoying freedom or an autonomous status in the sense that the different colleges of the University can revise their curriculum without prior approval of the Ched.”

“However, they (colleges) cannot touch the minimum requirements that were set for them,” he added.

De Jesus said the University’s different colleges only need to inform the Office of the Academic Affairs, the Registrar and other administrative offices regarding any revisions or modifications in their curricula. However, he pointed out that adding a new program is a different story.

According to De Jesus, before a proposed program is implemented, it is first subjected to feasibility studies, which take about six months to finish.

“We have to consider if the new program is viable financially and academically and if the time is ripe,” De Jesus said.

He said that major curricular revisions may also need to be discussed by the Academic Senate.

Loanzon, for her part, said UST’s “sovereignty” helps lessens the bureaucracy of outside institutions.

“Given this freedom, we are able to think for ourselves and able to think of new innovations that can be emulated by other schools,” Loanzon said.

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In addition, the colleges look to the national organizations their programs belong to for guidance when changing their curriculum.

With good cause

Aside from improving the quality of education, UST’s autonomous status further increases the benefits of curricular changes.

“It helps us to really be more flexible since our college is talent-based,” CFAD Dean De Los Santos said.

According to De Los Santos, the effectiveness of the curriculum is reflected when some students in the college are hired by several companies and corporations, both local and international.

“Although this may be viewed negatively because the student is unable to finish his studies, I consider it as a blessing because it shows us what area of the curriculum we need to enhance,” De Los Santos said. “If they hire more students, in a certain field, then we will try to focus on enhancing that particular field.”

Just like De Los Santos, Music Dean Raul Sunico receives the same “blessing in disguise”, but in a different way.

Sunico said most of the students in his College opt to take part-time jobs as musicians, allowing the college to determine the area to be given focus.

He stressed, however, that the curriculum is not the only factor to be considered.

“The students’ talent is at work here. That is why in programs such as Music, Architecture and Fine Arts, talent is more important than the academic part,” Sunico said. “Of course, this is without overlooking the basic subjects a student needs.”

Extracurricular factors

CRS Dean Consuelo Suarez said a competent faculty profile usually helps produce competent graduates

“Our College takes pride in having a young faculty with M.S. (Master of Science) holders,” she said.

CRS regularly holds faculty-student dialogues which involves the professors and class officers.

“These help us know the problems they (students) have with regard to our teaching methods,” Suarez added.

Meanwhile, Science Dean Fortunato Sevilla III said the application of the curriculum is also very important.

“The curriculum could be good but if you have an ineffective faculty it’s useless,” Sevilla said. “You can have good faculty members but if the curriculum is lousy, it’s also useless.”

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Also, the deans said the UST administration provides state-of-the-art facilities, furnished rooms, and building repaints, among others, which further reinforces the effectiveness of the curricular changes.

Torres, on the other hand, said another factor is the alumni as they could provide information regarding new developments in her college’s programs.

For De Los Santos, the students’ competency and willingness to learn is also a major factor.

Loanzon, on the other hand, offers another perspective in her Discurso de Apertura last month when she noted that values being taught in Catholic Institutions, is one of the core reasons of a college’s success.

“The Vatican Council II is outstanding in learning, ready to shoulder the burdens of society and a witness to Faith in the world. All three descriptions fit UST’s vision of competence, compassion and commitment,” Loanzon said.

Unending need

Citing the need for constant curricular changes, the University’s colleges have outlined even future plans.

Loanzon, through her Business Administration program, will try to find UST’s niche in social marketing and come up with a specialized program to develop this field. She also noted the possibility of cooperating with the Faculty of Arts and Letters’ Communication Arts and the CFAD’s Advertising programs.

Further, De Los Santos said the constant upgrading of technology compels his college to adjust the curriculum.

This is also true for Music because of the recent introduction of computers as new mediums for music, according to Music Dean Sunico.

For Education Dean Arcangel, however, curriculum formation is also about globalization.

“We have to constantly modify our curriculum so that we are always at par not just with schools in the nation but also with the schools in other countries,” Arcangel said.

The deans, captain of their respective ships, are one in saying that as long as the industry demands it and as long as it improves the quality of education, they will continue to change their curricula to meet, or even surpass, these unending demands.

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