CONCERNS are growing over the decision of the country’s top universities to shift to a new academic calendar starting this year, in particular over weather conditions during the new schedule of classes.

UST has moved classes to July-May from the traditional June-March schedule, to align with other countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) which is pushing through with economic integration in 2015. Other universities such as the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila, and De La Salle University are also adjusting their academic calendars.

The Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) has been lukewarm to the move. CHEd Chairperson Patricia Licuanan warned that class suspensions would likely be more frequent from July through October due to heavy rain and typhoons.

“A CHEd Technical Working Group study noted that tropical cyclones, in the last 10 years, tend to hit the Philippines between July and September,” Licuanan said in a statement. “Shifting the academic calendar would not make much of a difference.”

Mary Hildence Baluyot, acting dean of the College of Commerce, echoed Licuanan, saying the situation would be the same whether the academic year started in June or July.

The shift to a new calendar, however, should be given a chance. “You cannot see if it is a positive or negative change unless you see first and evaluate after a year of implementation,” she said.

Licuanan noted that the Department of Education (DepEd) was also not in favor of an August school opening because classes would last until the end of summer.

“A DepEd study noted that summer months in recent years had temperatures up to 40 degrees centigrade, making learning most difficult,” she said. "In addition, there are several long holidays, including Holy Week and fiestas, during the summer months.”

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Licuanan also said families from farming and fishing communities would have difficulty with an August school opening “because agricultural cycles cause them to run out of financial resources in August."

Board exams

In line with the calendar shift, the Professional Regulation Commission may also be forced to move the dates of board exams.

In a previous interview, Vice Rector for Academic Affairs Clarita Carillo said the shift would allow UST to link up with universities overseas. “An academic calendar that is synchronized with international universities will allow greater efficiency in implementing student and faculty exchange programs,” she said.

New uniform

The University is also planning to add a new set of uniforms to be worn during the hot months of April and May.

According to a memorandum released by Secretary General Fr. Winston Cabading, O.P., a complementary school uniform, called the “Type B” uniform, would be a T-shirt or a light-material top, and pants or walking shorts.

Each faculty or college and their respective student councils were encouraged to present a design for their respective Type B uniforms, which would be then submitted to the Office of the Secretary General.

The designs will be presented to the Council of Regents for approval. J.A.S. Bunagan, M.G.C. Esmaya and A.A.T. Santiago

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