THE GRADUATE School has started a program allowing faculty members to finish their master’s degree within the next two years.

Following strict enforcement of the “no master’s degree, no teaching load policy” for faculty who had failed to earn MA’s within a five-year grace period, the Special Reprieve (SR) Program was conceived to aid full-time faculty members who had begun graduate studies in 2005 or before and had completed coursework but had yet to finish their degrees.

Faculty members with approved thesis proposals are qualified to avail themselves of a study leave with pay equivalent to a full-time teaching load of 24 units.

Graduate School Dean Marilu Madrunio noted that faculty members should possess at least a master’s degree “regardless of employment status.” But the school cannot offer the incentive to part-time faculty members.

“Since they were hired as part-timers, it is possible that they are affiliated with other universities on a full-time basis. The schools where they work full-time should be able to address their academic needs,” Madrunio said, adding that the Graduate School would assign a mentor to monitor the progress of research work.

“Since we are also running out of time, we are encouraging our faculty to avail themselves of the [Special Reprieve] soonest, such as this semester and the second semester,” she said.

Under the SR program, students taking master’s programs and are employed as faculty members may shift to a non-thesis program without taking refresher courses. But they must enroll at least 12 units of coursework and publish an article related to their field of study in a reputable journal.

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Students who have not defended their theses and those who have defended but failed to submit a revised copy of their theses are required to update their papers. The latter should also have their papers published in journals.

Crizel Sicat, a lecturer at the Faculty of Arts and Letters, said the program would be beneficial to faculty members who need to finish their master’s theses.

“Ang basic na usapin ay [kung] binigbiyan ba natin ng sapat na suporta yung mga faculty para makapag-research,” Sicat said. “Tama talaga ‘yung move na magkakaroon ng study leave with pay kasi habang naka-leave sila, makakapag-research sila. [At sa] stipend, mabibigyan talaga [sila] ng budget sa pagre-research.”

The University hopes that by 2015, all full-time faculty members have complied with the requirements for teaching at the university level, Madrunio said.

According to Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) Memorandum Order no. 46 series of 2012, universities should have “faculty members with relevant degrees in their areas of specialization” to maintain university and autonomous status by 2014.

In 2010, UST strictly implemented CHEd rules requiring college teachers to at least have a master’s degree. Non-tenured faculty members without master's degrees were asked to sign a waiver renouncing their right to tenureship.

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