THE UNIVERSITY plans to synchronize its academic calendar with the rest of the world as a step toward “internationalization,” and in preparation for the economic integration of the Southeast Asian region in 2015.

This means that from the conventional June-March cycle, the academic year will run from September-June, coinciding with the typhoon season.

The plan will allow the University to adapt to the planned Asean Economic Community (AEC) in 2015, said Clarita Carillo, vice rector for academic affairs.

“An academic calendar that is synchronized with international universities will allow greater efficiency in implementing student and faculty exchange programs,” Carillo said in an email to the Varsitarian.

The onset of the AEC has also prompted the University of the Philippines (UP) and Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) to move their academic year to September-June.

AEC is a vision of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or Asean to establish interdependence among its 10 member-nations by 2015 under a master plan that includes mobility of students and faculty members in the region through a university network, according to a “blueprint” posted on

“We are cramming for ASEAN 2015,” Carillo said. “Either we respond now or we again allow ourselves to be left behind.”

The Philippines will be the only country in Southeast Asia following a June-March academic calendar by 2014. Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia already follow a September-May schedule. Thailand implemented the scheme in 2011.

Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) Executive Director Julito Vitriolo said the adjustment of the academic calendar resembles the effort to adopt the K to 12 basic education program.

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“We eventually adopted K to 12,” he said. “If we are going to align ourselves with the world, we might as well do it now.”

After UP and Ateneo announced plans to shift to an August-May academic calendar, CHEd urged other schools to follow .

Carillo said the new system would provide better international exposure for students in terms of on-the-job training and allow harmonization of curriculum with universities abroad.

“Hopefully, this will boost [the University’s] statistics for world and Asia university rankings,” Carillo said.

But CHEd still has no plans to impose the shift to all higher education institutions.

“Autonomous institutions can change it at their own discretion as long as the requirements are complied with,” Vitriolo said.

Universities seeking to adjust their academic calendars must still follow CHEd’s guidelines requiring 18 weeks per semester, with the corresponding number of hours per week.

Other concerns

In a proposal document by the Ateneo, several concerns were raised, such as the reduction of the review period for bar and medical board exams, inconveniences in studying, and the supposed incompatibility of the new schedule with the country’s climate.

But climate change has made the rainy season last practically the whole year, Vitriolo said.

Carillo said adjustments were still being considered because construction and renovations in universities might be more problematic during the rainy season.

“Those who always look forward to April and May as vacation or travel months will have to accept that vacations will have to be scheduled in July or August, which happen to be rainy months,” Carillo added.

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The Professional Regulation Commission may also have to change the examination dates of board exams.

“Internally, we have to adjust to a new lifestyle,” Vitriolo said. “But it is worth exploring because we have nothing to lose.”


Preparations for the AEC could also lead to changes in college curricula for schools to be at par with universities overseas.

Edwin Rodriguez, secretary of the UST Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, said changes in the curriculum would not necessarily make the course more difficult. Some of the changes will be about collaborative and constructive teaching methodologies and the “aggressive use of informatics.”

He said it was important to review the Asean framework so that universities would comply.

“We have no choice but to prepare for this forthcoming paradigm shift. We have to start now,” he said.

Architecture Dean John Joseph Fernandez said there would be no major changes in the college’s curriculum but CHEd had instructed all universities to convert all courses into outcomes-based education (OBE) long adopted by other Asean countries.

“When it comes to the number of units, it remains the same even after 2015. What changes is the delivery [of teaching.] Unlike before, it will be student-centered rather than teacher-centered,” Fernandez said.

In the OBE format, students will be given assessment tests after the teacher discusses the lesson. Those who pass will move on to the next module while those who fail must retake the test until they pass.

“The idea of OBE is to make sure everyone in the batch or within the class really understood every lesson in the program,” he said.

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Open-door policy

AEC aims to transform the region into a “stable, prosperous, and highly competitive region with equitable economic development, and reduced poverty and socio-economic disparities.” The plan calls for an open-door policy in education, Fernandez said.

The Architecture dean said the University was ready for the increase in the number of international students.

“We will provide a small percentage for some foreigners. The best move is just to accommodate a certain number,” he said.

The impact of the changes in the Asean educational framework will reach beyond the bachelor’s degree, Rodriguez said. “If unified, it can contribute to the mobilization of Asian doctors in the region,” he said.

Fernandez encouraged students to take master’s degrees aligned to their courses, saying because a bachelor’s degree in the Philippines won’t be enough under a competitive environment.

“Don’t settle for a bachelor’s degree because you will be stuck. Go for a master’s degree and if you’re patient, go for a doctorate degree,” Fernandez said. “In Asean, experience is not counted but education is counted.”


  1. So much change for so little time. This will be better implemented in a gradual manner. This will also have the advantage pf being able to see the results of every aspect of the change that is going to happen. “Slowly but surely”

  2. Why the sudden rush? UST does not need to do this because it is not part of the ASEAN University Network! So the perks of exchanges will not be bestowed on the university.

    The bigger question is, how come UP, ADMU, and DLSU are all part of the ANU, yet UST isn’t?

  3. The student-centered paradigm is not a bad idea. In fact, I find this change very helpful [for the students at least].
    There is this lingering anxiety that I can’t pinpoint and grasp… yet.
    But maybe my anxiety is rooted to the fact that there will be long breaks, and its even harder to bounce back

  4. It has been 18 years now since the ASEAN University Network was established and still, UST has not applied for membership. Can anyone explain to us why???

  5. Question says it all. I hope that the administration of the university or even just the publication will be able to provide a solution or an answer. I agree with the first one who commented. UP, ADMU, and DLSU are members of it but UST isn’t. why?

  6. Why? Why do we need to imitate other countries? Can’t we think of solution, our own solutions regarding educational matters?

    How can we, the students cope with these rush changes. This isn’t a good idea.

    • Actually, it is student-centered and would facilitate the development and exposure of students through exchanges that could be done through the members of ASEAN University Network (which UST is not a member). Moreover, it will make UST better if it chooses to be adapt to the changes (and if it will be part of the AUN).

      Think long term, dude.

  7. I have to admit. An approach on student-centered pedagogy is not a bad idea; quite honestly, I think it’s a great idea and it does sound good in theory. But changing the academic calendar to “boost [the University’s] statistics for world and Asia university rankings”? Through what? Standardization?

  8. In my opinion, international exchanges are essential to internationalization. I can’t understand why UST does not offer exchanges (Correct me if they are offering exchanges, but as far as I know, they don’t). When I started to take my graduate degree abroad, I realized how important exchanges are and that the world’s finest universities are doing it. If UST really wants to be a global, we should expand our presence abroad and while we can’t establish satellite campuses abroad, at least we should aim to partner with the best universities world wide.

    • UST offers exchanges but are very limited because of the difference in academic calendars with foreign educational institutions. AB, for example, sends exchange students to Korea but only during the summer. 🙂

      • Or perhaps these “exchanges” are limited only to certain programs. What ‘s the sense of being in sync with the international academic calendar when there is no partnership to begin with? And a bigger question is that with its long existence, how come the university never thought of making networks and connections internationally? It seems like a reactive action due to fear of being left out, or “gaya gaya lang.”

  9. Change is inevitable, we Filipinos must learn to adapt and not waste time and effort in senseless things just because we are comfortable with June-may academic calendar. If we want progress, higher education we must be at par with international schools.


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