Is UST’s Literature program on the decline?


IS THE University’s Literature program on the decline?

In 2013, the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) relegated the University’s AB Literature program from Center of Excellence (COE) to Center of Development (COD). The latter status will last up to Dec. 31, 2018, after which UST could apply for a restoration of its COE status.

But has UST prepared well for the new application?

In its criteria in 2013, CHEd prioritized “Instructional Quality,” which weighed in at 45 percent of the overall score; 15 percent of this was allotted for “Faculty.” Thirty percent was allotted for “Research and Publications.”

When I browsed the official websites of other universities which offer literature programs named COEs or CODs, I was flabbergasted. They boasted of literature professors with master’s degrees, some of which were acquired abroad. The same was true for those with doctorate degrees, which were acquired from prestigious institutions such as the National University of Singapore, University of Manchester, University of Chicago, Brown University, Hong Kong Baptist University.

On top of that, literature professors from other universities consistently publish in academic journals and present research papers, locally and internationally.

Sadly, many UST literature professors do not have master’s degrees, much less degrees acquired from abroad; they have not published consistently, much less presented papers internationally.

Part of the reason for the decline of the Literature program is how the UST administration has treated it as a “reconsideration” for some students who did not pass their original preferred programs. They compromise the program.

Worse, I know of cases in which students on the brink of debarment from demanding programs were allowed to continue their stay in UST so long as they transferred to Literature.

Many of these “reconsidered” or “save-from-debarment” students remain listless and undecided about their career prospects even when they’re about to graduate. Their indecision and halfhearted studies in the Literature program may rub off on other students who truly love taking up Literature.

That such students have not been inspired by the program all these years may also reflect on the uninspiring faculty. In any case, such students are an insult to those who have earnestly enrolled in the program and to the more diligent literature professors.

Such students cut classes, become absent without valid excuse, submit half-baked papers, don’t read assigned texts, recite poorly, and flunk exams without any anxiety.

Their mediocrity is abetted by mediocre teachers and overly lenient professors too eager to pander to the students so they could score well in performance evaluation surveys.

When I entered the UST Literature program, I did so out of the wish to join the ranks of Thomasian literature greats such as Paz Latorena, Ophelia Dimalanta, Bienvenido Lumbera, and Cirilo Bautista. But having been numbered among students halfhearted about the program and who joined it for shallow reasons, and having learned things literary from uninspiring teachers, I find that attaining my original dream has become remote and farfetched.


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