By Maya M. Padillo
An official of the University of Philippines-Los Banos (UPLB) disclosed that their entry in Panabo City is not meant to compete, but rather to “capacitate” state universities and colleges (SUCs).
Damosa Land Inc (DLI) and UPLB held a groundbreaking ceremony yesterday for the University of the Philippines Professional School for Agriculture and the Environment (UP PSAE) that will soon rise in the complex of Agriya, an 88-hectare mixed-use development.
The UP PSAE is a public-private partnership between the UPLB, corporate farmer Anflocor, and DLI with a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) last signed last January 30, 2017. Based on the MOA, Anflocor and DLI will donate 31,896.65 square meters as well as infrastructure.
In an interview, UPLB Chancellor Fernando Sanchez Jr. said the school’s entry in Panabo City is not meant to threaten existing and neighboring SUCs. Its establishment only conforms to Republic Act 9500 entitled “An Act to Strengthen the University of the Philippines as the National University”, also known as the New UP Charter of 2008.
RA 9500 honors UP with the title “National University” effectively recognizes UP as a University System.
“Why is UP here? In 2008 RA 9500 which used to be the national university was signed mandating UP to be a graduate, research and public service university. Technically that is the new mandate of UP, to capacitate SUCs in the country for them to offer programs and even undergraduate programs at our level right now,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez said that although being recognized as a national university, UP cannot handle everything such as academic programs all over the country. That is why they need to capacitate the SUCs by offering graduate programs.
When Anflocor made an offer to locate in Panabo, UPLB opted for a professional school, meaning it would offer only graduate degree programs. He said it used to be only the college of agriculture and science, but now it is the whole spectrum of graduate programs that are being offered in UP. However, it will depend on the needs of the SUCs and institutions here.
“That is why when the opportunity came when Aflocor offered to host UP here in Panabo, it’s a long-time dream for UP Los Banos to be here. It started way back when UP Mindanao was established. It’s the dream sana to have an agricultural graduate degree program but unfortunately it did not materialize,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez said they will only have a small number of students, with 15 to 20 per class.
“Kaya nga when we had a stakeholders meeting here last month with SUCs and the UP Mindanao chancellor, we removed their scare that we’re here to compete. We’re not going to compete, we’re going to help you capacitate your faculty and researchers. We just cannot compete because we’re going to have a small student population so it’s not a competition but capacitating the SUCs,” he said.
Sanchez added that to make it more responsive, the SUCs around the region can have an e-group, or they can organize themselves and discuss what they need for their faculties or researchers.
“Anong kailangan i-capacitate? Then they will tell us, and we bring the degree program kung PhD lang ba or MS so that would be more responsive and effective on our side. Kasi we bring one degree program, it would cost us half a million in a semester to bring our professors here,” he said.
This academic school year 2017-2018, UP PSAE will be offering in off-campus mode a Master of Science in Plant Pathology degree. Additional graduate programs will be offered each succeeding year, and short courses and trainings will be announced as they become available.
“They are saying that we need to have MS in Plant Pathology based on request. We are offering that this semester. We want also to offer MS in EnviSci (Environmental Science) for us to level up to PhD in EnviSci. Hindi naman puedeng dumeret-song from BS to PhD. And we’re also seriously thinking of a PhD in research,” Sanchez said.