Prof. Nigel Healey, QS-Apple academic advisory committee chair, officially closes the international conference. Photos by Sherwin Marion T. Vardeleon

Michael Fung speaks in front of delegates from all over Asia Pacific, in the 7th Quacquarelli Symonds-Asia Pacific Professional Leaders in Education (QS-Apple) conference. Photos by Sherwin Marion T. Vardeleon

Nov. 20, 11:21 a.m. – AN ESTIMATED 800 participants gathered at the Quadricentennial Pavilion for the 8th Quacquarelli Symonds-Asia Pacific Professional Leaders in Education (QS-Apple) conference and exhibition last week, where ways to “think of strategies to become world-class universities” were presented.

Nigel Healey, QS-Apple academic advisory committee chair, said in an exclusive interview with the Varsitarian that a big problem in many developing countries today is that students are unable to finish primary or secondary education because of financial incapacity.

“[The Philippines has] a huge number of private institutions, universities, and colleges trying to make higher education accessible to students without the government funding,” Healey said.

He cited the success of public universities from neighboring countries like China, Korea, and Malaysia, whose governments had invested heavily in achieving higher education.

“In the Philippines, the state has limited fiscal capacity and cannot fund all the university places demanded,” he said. “Our 2011 location in Manila provides a unique opportunity to explore issues of social justice and access to higher education [in the Asia-Pacific region].”

Healey added that this year’s conference was a good way to exchange ideas on how the participants’ respective educational systems could be improved.

“The purpose of the conference is really to bring people together from mainly across Asia-Pacific so they can share their experiences and exchange ideas on how to improve research, get more international teaching, and to make higher education accessible to developing countries,” he said.

QS Asia managing director Mandy Mok, on the other hand, said this year’s three-day conference gave opportunities for Philippine higher education leaders to “benefit from the QS-Apple learning and networking experience.”

“We believe that through such international exposure and networking, more Asian institutions will rise in global recognition and world stature,” she said.

About 100 speakers from 22 countries presented 70 papers in six parallel sessions discussing the internationalization of the student body and curriculum, building world-class universities in the Asia-Pacific, transnational education and international partnerships, global higher education market, and social justice and access to higher education.

Fr. Rolando de la Rosa, O.P., Rector of the University, said UST hosted the conference not to get higher in the QS rankings, but to establish networking with premiere universities abroad.

“One of the things that we lack is networking with other universities. So we’re well-known in the Philippines, but abroad, very few universities really know us, and their (QS world and Asian university rankings) criteria for the ranking [include] peer evaluation,” he said.

During the welcome session in the first day of the conference, Commissioner Nenalyn Defensor of the Commission on Higher Education discussed the essence of higher education in the Philippines.

“World-class universities are not only characterized by the high concentration of excellence, talent, and infrastructure,” Defensor said. “They also generate multidisciplinary research, provide the focal clusters of economic activity and deliver highly skilled people to the global market.”

UST professors invited to present papers in the international conference include Jeremaiah Opiniano, Robert Montana, Alvin Ang, Lucila Bance, Noel Asiones, Catherine Cordova, Chin Uy, and Allan de Guzman.

R. L. Antonio and B. D. Nicolas


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