SUCs ZBB 22July2014

 Highlights: As part of a series of papers commissioned by the Department of Budget and Management on Zero-Based Budgeting, the Congressional Policy & Budget Research Department together with the Philippine Institute for Development Studies organized a forum on ‘Review and Assessment of Programs Offered by State Universities and Colleges’. The results were presented by Dr. Rosario G. Manasan, a Senior Research Fellow from PIDS on 22 July 2014 at the House of Representatives.

The study aims to examine and evaluate the programs offered by State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) relative to (1) their mandates, (2) quality of graduates, (3) programs offered by other SUCs and Private Higher Education Institutions (PHEIs) in each region. Based on these findings, the study also intends to formulate recommendations to improve quality and relevance of courses in SUCs.

Program assessment consists of three phases: Phase 1 covers Regions IV-A, VI, VII, XI; Phase 2 encompasses Regions I, II, III, IV-B, IX, NCR and ARMM while Phase 3 covers Regions V, VIII, XII, X, CAR and CARAGA. For Phase 1, key informant interviews were conducted with SUCs’ officials, and regional offices of Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).

SUC program offering vis-à-vis their mandates

Mandates of SUCs were analyzed in the study as against the programs they offer. These classified SUCs into four categories: Some SUCs started out with very broadly stated mandates in their charters and could therefore offer any program as they wish. On the other hand, there were SUCs that amended their charter to be able to offer new programs not included in their original mandate. Still, there were SUCs that did not find charter revision necessary to offer new programs; hence, despite restricted mandates, they offered a large number of courses outside these mandates. Only a small number of SUCs were found to be faithful to their core mandates.

Program Duplication

Broad mandates gave rise to program duplication among SUCs and PHEIs in the same region. Average program duplication rate is at 56% if reckoned according to total number of program offerings and 89%-92% if computed from total enrollment. SUCs in Region VII posted the highest duplication rates (86%-90% on programs; 96%-99% on total enrollment) while ARMM registered the lowest duplication rates (69%-71% on programs; 82%-86% on total enrollment). High rates of program duplication appear to be closely linked with the expansion in the number of course offerings of SUCs in a particular period.

Program duplication is an important budget consideration. Manasan (2011) indicates that an increase in the number of programs drives up per student cost in SUCs. This is because SUCs rarely close down programs despite diminishing number of enrollees. Given the same number of inputs (such as teachers and other associated overhead costs) but with less number of outputs (that is, graduates), SUCs end up operating less efficiently.

Program duplication is a problem for PHEIs on the issue of crowding out. When SUCs offer programs traditionally offered by PHEIs, PHEIs end up losing students to SUCs because of lower fees charged by the latter. Even though CHED offers scholarships to help students exercise choice, grant amounts are still low compared to actual fees charged by PHEIs, making private higher education less affordable. Continuous declines in enrollment mean less revenue for PHEIs making faculty retrenchment unavoidable in some cases.

On the other hand, PHEIs complain of uneven playing field because of the manner by which CHED supervises HEIs. The Policies, Standards and Guidelines as imposed on PHEIs are not as strictly applied on SUCs because CHED regards SUCs as autonomous by virtue of their charters. This implies however, that SUCs can offer programs available in PHEIs even though SUCs do not have the required facilities for the same programs.

From SUCs’ perspective, program duplication is not an issue as far as PHEIs are concerned. According to some SUC officials, it is the role of SUCs to make higher education more accessible and equitable. Given geographical factors, program duplication may be necessary in regions consisting of island provinces.

Program duplication becomes an issue from a SUC’s perspective if another SUC offers the same program. It appears that a SUC considers another publicly funded institution within the region as its competitor, whether the institution is a branch of a national university (such as UP, PUP, TUP, PNU) or a branch/extension class of a regional SUC.

Quality of Instruction

On average, SUCs perform better than PHEIs. Professional Board Examinations (PBEs) are used as a quality of instruction indicator across HEIs. From 2005-2011, SUCs fared better than PHEIs in 84% of PBEs. During this period, SUCs furthered their advantage over PHEIs in about 31% of PBEs. On the other hand, for the remaining 69% of the PBEs, SUCs’ lead over PHEIs declined in the early part of the period.

Prevalence of zero passing rates in many PBEs among SUCs and PHEIs is alarming. When grouped according to passing rates in PBEs, the majority of SUCs and PHEIs have zero passing rates. This implies that HEIs are conveying a false promise to students and their families that they will be able to practice their profession upon graduation.
Passing rates among main campuses and their respective satellite campuses vary. A particular SUC’s average passing rate that is above national level does not necessarily mean that its satellite campuses perform at the same level. Conversely, there are instances where satellite campuses perform better than their main campuses.

Future Steps

It appears that the key to improving cost efficiency and quality of instruction in the higher education system is to strengthen CHED’s role in supervising all HEIs: For CHED to rationalize program offerings of SUCs, it may have to consider the following steps:

Strengthen enforcement of policy on closing programs where HEI performance is subpar. At the national level and across public and private HEIs, median passing rate for 38 PBEs in 2005-2011 has remained below 50%. Many SUCs have persistently registered PBE passing rates below national average year after year. As many satellite campuses perform poorly, this rule should be applied on them apart from their main campuses.

Improve implementation of its Policies, Standards and Guidelines to ensure that SUCs’ program offerings are compliant. CHED has had several issuances directing SUCs and LUCs to conform to these PSGs. However, there may be a need to establish more clearly CHED’s role in supervising SUCs to ensure PSGs are implemented effectively.

Apply standards strictly on SUCs proposing to open new programs. This responsibility is assigned to the CHED Chairman in the Board of Trustees but implementation has been a challenge. CHED regional offices can also enforce these standards but CHED’s authority over SUCs may have to be clarified first.

SUCs wishing to offer “popular” programs may be allowed by CHED for as long as they meet CHED standards and are self-sustaining as these are viewed by SUCs as income-generating opportunities. This releases the national government from the additional burden of subsidizing these programs.

Faculty development is crucial in improving quality of education. SUCs have taken steps to register better PBE scores such as review classes and administering pre-board examinations. Those who fail in pre-board examinations are not given certification by the SUC to take the PBE. However, these solutions are superficial. Faculty development appears to address the problem of quality instruction. Prepared by Glenndale J. Cornelio

Forum Materials: 

Review and Assessment of Programs Offered by State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) Phase 2 by Ms. Rosario G. Manasan and Danileen C. Parel