Benefits and Challenges of University Autonomy: The Centro Escolar University Experience Maria Flordeliza L. Anastacio, Ph.D. Dean, School of Accountancy and Management National President, Philippine Society for Educational Research and Evaluation Immediate Past President, Philippine Council of Deans and Educators in Business Introduction “The contemporary university, like the communities in which it is embedded, is in the midst of massive change. Such change is propelled forward by two central trends. These are the acceleration in the pace of change itself, and the globalization of the economy and of technology.” -UNESCO World Conference 1998 The UNESCO conference emphasized that: •Academic freedom and University Autonomy are not privileges •University Autonomy and Academic Freedom are basic and inalienable conditions. •Autonomy affirms the university as an institution of scholarship and learning •Autonomy enables the university to freely assume and optimally fulfill its responsibilities to society. How does one define Autonomy? •Freedom and authority in academic matters. • The right to decide what to teach, how to teach, and whom to teach. •The privilege to enjoy framing its courses of studies, designing its assessment methods and its principles and policies of admission. •A basic feature of higher education. Response of HEIs in the Philippines 1. The Commission on Higher Education issued CHED Memorandum Order No. 32 in 2001 promulgating the guidelines to implement the grant of autonomy and deregulated status to selected private higher education institutions (PHEIs) in the Philippines. 2. CHED recognized the enormous contribution of PHEIs in the growth and prominence of tertiary education in the country and in the Asia-Pacific through the HEI’s commitment to promote quality education, research and extension work. 3. CHED issued the general criteria for selection and identification of PHEIs to be granted autonomy: • Established as Centers of Excellence or Centers of Development. • Level III Accreditation • Outstanding overall performance of graduates in the licensure examination, and • Long tradition of integrity and untarnished reputation. Rationale of the Study The Centro Escolar University is one of the first Universities in the Philippines to be included in the roster of Philippine Universities given Autonomous Status by the Commission in Higher Education in 2001. After eight (8) years from the time the University Autonomous status was granted, the researcher deem it timely to assess how the members of the management council, faculty and staff perceive the changes made in the University. Significance of the Study 1. Findings will be beneficial to management and the academic community to be able to: • Review the extent of realization of benefits granted by the CHED, • Maximize the benefits if these were not realized or implemented, • Serve as an eye opener to those who are not keenly aware of the benefits of autonomous status, • Serve as input for university planning and research. 2. The researcher-made instrument will serve as basis for the evaluation of the degree of realization of the benefits of autonomous status of other universities and colleges. 3. Promote the researcher’s professional growth as an educational leader in her University and in her leadership capacity as prime mover of quality education in several professional organizations like PSERE and PCDEB Methods and Procedures •The descriptive method was used. •A researcher-made questionnaire was the major data gathering instrument. •Documentary analysis was used to synthesize and summarize the salient points. •There were 100 questionnaires distributed, however, only 95 were retrieved. •The respondents were composed of vice presidents, deans, assistant deans, department heads, program heads, division heads, assistants to the dean, faculty members, and non-teaching personnel of the University. •The data gathered were statistically treated by the Evaluation and Data Processing Department of Centro Escolar University using the frequency, percentage, mean and standard deviation as primary statistical tools. Findings, Conclusions and Recommendations Table 1 Profile of the Respondents as to Positions Held Positions Held f % Assistant Vice President 3 3.2 Dean 7 7.4 Assistant Dean/Associate Dean 4 4.2 Department Head 18 18.9 Program Head 2 2.1 Division Head 4 4.2 Assistant to the Dean 4 4.2 Faculty 24 25.3 Non-teaching Staff 29 30.5 Total 95 100 Table 2 Profile of the Respondents as to Years of Service to the University Years of Service f % 10 years and below 8 8.4 11-15 years 24 25.3 16-20 years 29 30.5 21-25 years 9 9.5 26-30 years 8 8.4 31-35 years 12 12.6 36-40 years 4 4.2 41 years and above 1 1.1 Total 95 100 Table 3 Profile of the Respondents as to Highest Educational Attainment Highest Educational Attainment f % Doctoral Degree 34 35.79 Master’s Degree 38 40 Bachelor’s Degree 23 24.21 Total 95 100 Table 4 Profile of the Respondents as to Age Age f % 30 years old and below 1 1.1 31-40 31 32.7 41-45 22 23.2 46-50 10 10.5 51-55 13 13.7 56-60 14 14.7 61 and above 4 4.2 Total 95 100 Table 5 Degree of Realization of Benefits Granted by CHED as Perceived by the Respondents Benefits granted by CHED to University Verbal sd Interpretation enjoying autonomous status X 2.82 .41 1. Exemption from the issuance of special To a High order Extent 2.65 .50 2. Free from monitoring and evaluation To a High activities of the CHED Extent 2.42 .65 3. Entitlement of grant of subsidies and other Moderate financial incentives/assistance from the Extent CHED, whenever funds are available. 4. Privilege to determine and 2.83 .39 To a High Extent prescribe curricular programs to achieve global competence. 5. Privilege to offer new 2.90 .29 To a High extent courses/programs in the undergraduate/graduate level without securing permit/authority from the CHED 6. Privilege to establish branch/es or 2.82 .40 To a High Extent satellite campuses without the prior approval of the CHED 7.Privilege to offer extension 2.72 .47 To a High Extent classes and distance education courses/programs to expand access to higher education and to establish affiliation with recognized foreign higher education institutions in pursuit of international standards of education. 8. Authority to grant honoris causa 2.57 .62 To a High extent to deserving individuals Overall 2.72 .30 To a High Extent Table 6 The degree of realization of other benefits of university autonomy as to Philosophy and Objectives as perceived by the respondents As to Philosophy and Objectives, University Verbal Autonomy: sd Interpretati on 2.89 .31 1. Resulted to clarity of vision of the To a High University Extent 2.77 .44 2. Developed and sustained a long-term view To a High on Social development and social Extent responsibility 2.91 .28 3. Helped in the realization of the objectives To a High of the University and Schools/Colleges Extent 2.78 .44 4. Accelerated the pace of change in the To a High University Extent 2.77 .46 5. Proved to be an education concept that To a High brought about modernity and relevance Extent without compromising values and traditions 2.75 .45 6. Led the university to achieve a corporate image To a High that is emulated by universities in the country Extent 2.72 .47 7. Advanced the quality of teaching and research To a High in the university extent 2.77 8. Autonomy placed a considerable emphasis on .46 To a High the role of the university to anticipate change Extent 2.81 .41 9. Autonomy has given greater academic freedom To a High to the CEU community Extent 2.77 .46 10. Autonomy made the university spiritually To a High strong enough to be a key agent of change in the Extent Philippine educational system 2.80 .30 Overall To a High Extent Table 7 Degree of Realization of Other Benefits of University Autonomy as to Curriculum and Instruction as Perceived by the Respondents As to Curriculum and Instruction, University Verbal Autonomy: sd Interpretation 2.82 .40 1. Led CEU to the promotion and development To a High of an intellectual climate conducive to the Extent pursuit of excellence 2.72 .44 2. Brought CEU to the forefront of its potential To a High to experiment and introduce innovations in the Extent educational system 2.82 .40 3. Provided a conducive environment in To a High promoting and nurturing academic growth Extent 2.78 .50 4. Enabled the administration to evolve student- To a High oriented teaching methodologies and strategies Extent vis-à-vis the requirements of the program/courses 2.67 .55 5. Provided the motivation to the faculty to be To a High more creative in curriculum and instructional Extent design 2.74 .52 6. Resulted to more professional courses being To a High offered in the university, both on the Extent undergraduate and graduate levels 2.71 .50 7. Improved the performance of graduates in the To a High licensure examinations Extent 2.71 .52 8. Increased the number of topnotchers and To a High placers in the licensure examinations Extent 2.69 .57 9. Improved the academic performance of To a High students Extent 2.66 .54 10. Increased the employability of graduates To a High Extent 2.66 .50 11. Gave recognition to the teaching of ethics, To a High corporate citizenship and social responsibility Extent 2.78 12. Provided a wider scope to update the .46 To a High curriculum to be responsive to industry and Extent societal needs 2.80 Overall .30 To a High Extent Table 8 Degree of Realization of Other Benefits of University Autonomy as to Faculty and Staff as Perceived by the Respondents As to Faculty and Staff, University Autonomy: Verbal sd Interpretation 2.69 1. Made and faculty and staff more responsive and .50 To a High committed to the needs of the School/College Extent 2.70 .52 2. Resulted to an increase participation of faculty/staff To a High in seminars and workshops Extent 2.82 3. Led to the improvement of faculty/staff .54 To a High qualification Extent 2.42 .61 4. Provided more opportunities for the faculty to To a interact with their counterparts abroad Moderate Extent 2.56 .56 5. Brought greater professional satisfaction To a High among the faculty and staff Extent 2.60 .53 6. Improved the self-confidence of the faculty To a High and staff Extent 2.72 .47 7. Created /Brought pride to the faculty and To a High staff Extent 2.56 .48 8. Resulted to active participation in academic To a High decision making Extent 2.63 .40 Overall To a High Extent Table 9 Degree of Realization of Other Benefits of University Autonomy as to Research as Perceived by the Respondents As to Research, University Autonomy: Verbal sd Interpretation 2.41 1. Increased the number of faculty doing research .59 To a Moderate Extent 2.43 .60 2. Increased the research output of faculty To a Moderate Extent 2.51 .58 3. Improved the standard of research in the To a High university Extent 2.46 .62 4. Resulted to more faculty research paper To a presentations on a national level Moderate Extent 5. Resulted to more faculty research paper 2.36 .64 To a presentation on an international level Moderate Extent 2.28 .58 6. Increased the number of research grants To a Moderate Extent 2.33 .58 7. Resulted to higher research utilization in the To a university Moderate Extent 2.44 .61 8. Brought the university nearer to its vision to To a be a research university Moderate Extent 2.40 .50 Overall To a Moderate Extent Table 10 Degree of Realization of Other Benefits of University Autonomy as to Organization and Administration as Perceived by the Respondents As to Organization and Administration, University Verbal Autonomy: sd Interpretatio n 1. Provided an environment for transformation of the 2.65 .52 To a High administration Extent 2. Made the top administrators more responsive and 2.64 .54 To a High committed to the needs of the schools and colleges Extent 3. Made the deans and department heads more 2.76 .49 To a High responsive and committed to the needs of the Extent Schools/Colleges 2.69 .54 To a High Extent 4. Resulted to the responsiveness of administrative structures to the views of the faculty, staff and deans 2.78 .48 To a High Extent 5. Created self confidence and pride among the administrators, deans and department heads 2.14 .59 To a Moderate 6. Resulted to increased student enrollment Extent 2.77 .47 To a High Extent 7. Autonomy brought greater academic and administrative responsibility 2.63 .42 To a High Extent Overall Table 11 Degree of Realization of Other Benefits of University Autonomy as to Student Services and Student Development as Perceived by the Respondents As to Student Services and Student Development, University Autonomy: Verbal Interpretation sd 1. Enabled the University to promote more responsive service and more relevant 2.67 .53 To a High Extent and healthy co-curricular and extra- curricular activities in campus 2. Brought greater satisfaction to students in the scheduling of activities 2.41 .61 To a Moderate Extent 3. Created more student leaders who are responsive to academic, social and 2.56 .58 To a High Extent economic realities 4. Increased self-confidence of students 2.53 .58 To a High Extent 5. Increased loyalty and pride among the students 2.57 .56 To a High Extent 6. Increased in academic health and academic freedom 2.46 .63 To a Moderate Extent 7.Resulted to participation in academic related decision making 2.50 .60 To a High Extent processes/activities 8. Increased freedom of mobility for students 2.41 .63 To a Moderate Extent Overall 2.51 .49 To a High Extent Table 12 Summary of Overall Ratings on the Benefits of University Autonomy Verbal sd Interpretation Degree of Realization of Benefits Granted by CHED 2.72 .30 To a High Extent Degree of Realization of Other Benefits of University Autonomy as to 2.80 .30 To a High Extent Philosophy and Objectives Degree of Realization of Other benefits of University Autonomy as to 2.80 .30 To a High Extent Curriculum and Instruction 2.63 .40 To a High Extent Degree of Realization of Other Benefits of University Autonomy as to Faculty and Staff 2.40 .50 To a Moderate Degree of Realization of Other Benefits of University Autonomy as Extent to Research 2.63 .42 To a High Extent Degree of Realization of Other Benefits of University Autonomy as to Organization and Administration 2.51 .49 To a High Extent Degree of Realization of Other Benefits of University Autonomy as to Student Services and Student Development Overall 2.64 To a High Extent Table 13 Frequency of Occurrence of Challenges and Difficulties of University Autonomy Challenges/Difficulties of University Autonomy Verbal sd Interpretation 1. University officials are always tapped in national assemblies and activities 1.95 .62 Sometimes which interfere with their duties and responsibilities in the universities 2. Absence of administrative autonomy on the part of the School/College 1.71 .56 Sometimes Dean 3. Lack of coordination between the University and the School and College 1.48 .56 Never 4. Lack of coordination between Schools/Colleges and the Departments 1.57 .58 Sometimes 5. Several offices created abnormal delay in approval of requests 1.74 .50 Sometimes 6. Several offices create abnormal delay in release of budgets 1.81 .53 Sometimes 7.Mobility of students is hindered 1.64 .56 Sometimes 8. Mobility of faculty and staff is hindered 1.62 .55 Sometimes 9. Mobility of the department head/dean is hindered 1.60 .55 Sometimes 10. Lack of physical space to hold the numerous activities of the School/College 1.76 .56 Sometimes 11. Schools/Colleges are not permitted to hold activities on their convenient time. 1.80 .60 Sometimes 12. Academic activities are sacrificed for participation in sports and extra- 1.74 .63 Sometimes curricular activities 13. Lack of well-trained personnel to implement programs. 1.68 .57 Sometimes 14.Faculty-student ratio does not promote satisfactory interaction between faculty 1.82 .55 Sometimes and students 15. Great deal of clerical work for the deans and heads 2.01 .57 Sometimes 16. Too much work for top and middle administrators 2.02 .59 Sometimes 17. Too much expectations from the deans/department heads 2.11 .57 Sometimes 18. Too many schools benchmarking with the University result to fear of 1.97 .58 Sometimes intellectual property being put at stake Overall 1.78 .38 Sometimes Conclusions Based on the findings, the following conclusions are drawn: 1. Benefits granted to autonomous universities by the Commission on Higher Education were enjoyed by Centro Escolar University “to a high extent” except for the entitlement of grant of subsidies and other financial incentives/assistance. 2. University autonomy helped in the realization of objectives, resulted to clarity of vision of the university and made the university spiritually strong enough to be an agent of change in the Philippine society. 3. Autonomous status served as an engine of Centro Escolar University toward academic excellence. 4. Autonomy created self-confidence and pride to all constituents of the university as well as greater academic and administrative responsibilities. 5. University autonomy did not result to increased student enrollment. 6. There is coordination between the university and colleges/schools. Recommendations The following recommendations are hereby endorsed: 1. There is a need to review and intensify the internationalization thrust of the university to give opportunities to the faculty to interact with their counterpart abroad. 2. There is a need to motivate the academic community to engage in research and pursue its vision to be a research university. 3. That coordination with the Commission on Higher Education be further intensified for possible assistance in academic development in terms of grants and incentives. 4. That further studies be conducted in the future to assess the benefits and challenges of university autonomy.
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