SOME flew halfway across the globe while others arrived from neighboring countries in the region. Whatever their origin, foreign students keep pouring in the Philippines for higher education and a top destination is UST.

This school year, a total of 654 foreigners are enrolled in the University, mostly in the Graduate and the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery. The figure was more than double the 302 foreign students who entered UST five years ago.

UST, the oldest university in Asia, has apparently been attracting students from as far as Mauritus. In 2006, most of the foreign students enrolled here were from South Korea, China, and the United States.

According to Nigerian Edward Dike, president of UST’s International Students Association (ISA), the affordability of college education in the Philippines was a major factor.

“The cost of education here [in the Philippines] is really low compared to that of America, Britain or any other foreign country,” said Dike, a third-year medical technology student.

Dike, who had earned a diploma in Pharmacology before going to UST, said the plus was the Philippine educational system, which was patterned after that of the US. He said this meant that earning a bachelor’s degree hereabouts was quicker—without necessarily sacrificing quality—compared with other countries.

“The system of education is different. Ours [in Nigeria] is patterned after the British system, while here in the Philippines we follow the American system of education,” he said.

For HaHyun Chang, a senior journalism student, said she and many of her compatriots opted to student in the Philippines also because of its proximity to their home country. It helped, she said, that many South Koreans have settled in the country.

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“This has made us closer and more connected to each other,” she said.

Reasonable cost

For Prof. Evelyn Songco, Assistant to the Rector for Student Affairs, the growing population of foreign students was due to the “reasonable” cost and quality of education offered in UST.

“The University has already established its reputation outside the country as one of the top four (schools in the Philippines) alongside the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University, and De La Salle University,” she said.

She added that foreign students enrolled in UST are well-introduced to Filipino culture and tradition.

“To acquaint them with our country, special classes on Philippine history and the Filipino language are being offered to them [foreign students], as well as cultural tours in the different tourist spots in the country,” Songco said.

Cresencio Doma, a Sociology professor and Arts and Letters faculty secretary, said UST takes pride in molding foreign students who eventually “go back to their countries and practice what they have learned (here).”

“They will be able to influence others based on their experiences in the University and this only proves that UST is definitely an institution the world looks up to in terms of developing young minds that would later shape or determine the future of the world,” he said. Maria Luisa A. Mamaradlo

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