THE NUMBER of faculty members with graduate degrees increased to nearly three-quarters of UST’s teaching force in the last four years, while the rest still have to earn master’s degrees to comply with government standards, data from the Office of the Academic Affairs and Research showed.

In the first semester of the academic year, 515 faculty members still had to get master’s degrees, equivalent to 26.38 percent of the 1,945 total faculty population including the Graduate School, Medicine, Law, and the elementary, high school, and library departments.

Master’s degree holders totaled 961 or 49.41 percent while the number of doctorate degree holders stood at 470 or 24.16 percent, an improvement over the last four years. In the first semester of school year 2006-2007, 34.26 percent of the faculty did not have master’s degrees, while a little over 65 percent had master’s and doctorate degrees.

The Faculty of Engineering had the most number of teachers with graduate degrees at 113, while the College of Education (7 out of 82) and College of Science (10 out of 120) had the least number of faculty members without graduate degrees.

Meanwhile, the College of Fine Arts and Design (CFAD) had the most number of faculty members without master’s degrees at 44. Only 41 CFAD professors had graduate degrees.

Fine Arts Dean Cynthia Loza declined to comment.

The College of Nursing, meanwhile, also has a big population of instructors without master of arts (MA) or master of science (MS) degrees. Of the 115-strong Nursing teaching force, 58 had graduate degrees while 57 instructors still had to get MAs.

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Sought for comment, Nursing Dean Glenda Vargas said some teachers with master’s degrees had left UST to go overseas.

“We cannot stop them [because] they are leaving for greener pastures. We have to replace [those who left] but there are no qualified [applicants with the minimum requirement of an MA],” she said.

Nursing requires just one year of clinical practice in a field of specialization as a registered nurse in the Philippines, and membership in an accredited professional organization of nurses, Vargas said.

Science Dean Maribel Nonato said the college provides support to professors who want to continue further studies. Faculty members with post-graduate degrees serve as role models for other teachers, encouraging them to aspire for higher studies, she added.

“As long as they (faculty members) have the initiative to study, we make sure that we give them enough support,” Nonato said.

Engineering Dean Josefin de Alban, meanwhile, said having an MA is a “natural move.”

“We start by telling faculty members to keep on studying [although] there are no available degrees [related to Engineering],” De Alban said. “We must keep on developing ourselves, we have to make the most of this time.”

Ched requirement

Vargas said Nursing teachers without MAs had been told that a master’s degree is a requirement and that they must finish their studies in five semesters. This was specified in their contracts, she said.

“If they cannot finish [the degree] for a certain period, then they will not be [re-hired],” she said.

But Vargas pointed out that teachers without MAs also contribute to the college, citing Nursing’s performance in the recent board examinations. “We are not going hire them if they are not qualified. If we are going to take them in, then they are with experience,” she said.

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Nursing also prefers graduates of the college, a government-designated center of excellence in Nursing.

“At least if we get our graduates, we know that our students are in good hands because they know the concerns of our college,” Vargas said. “When they’re in, we train them to become effective faculty members.”

Aside from being a minimum requirement set by the Commission on Higher Education or Ched, a master’s degree is also necessary for promotion.

“Completion of post-graduate degrees does not guarantee promotion in rank. However, granting [that the faculty classification] criteria were satisfied, a faculty member cannot be promoted to assistant professor level unless he has an MA/MS degree. Likewise, one cannot be promoted to associate professor level unless he has a PhD degree,” said Editha Fernandez, Office of Faculty Evaluation and Development director.

Issue on tenureship

Last March, the University administration began to strictly implement Ched Memorandum Order 40 series of 2008 or the “Manual of Regulations for Private Higher Education,” requiring all college teachers to have “at least” a master’s degree.

However, dispute ensued between the administration and the UST Faculty Union after the issuance of a waiver to non-tenured faculty members without master’s degrees at the start of the academic year. The waiver places them on probationary status despite a provision in the collective bargaining agreement that allows faculty members to attain tenure or regular status after five consecutive semesters of teaching.

Those who refused to sign the waiver were terminated. Three CFAD professors sued UST before the National Labor Relations Commission last July for “unfair labor practice.”

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But Fernandez said that effective 2003, a faculty member cannot attain tenure without master’s degree under University policies. “So there is no chance they will get tenured now unless they have the MA/MS degree,” she said. Charmaine M. Parado

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