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Postpone the Academic Calendar Shift Now: A Position Paper on the Proposed AY 2014 – 2015 Calendar Shift in the University of the Philippines, Diliman
Submitted by: University Student Council AY 2014 - 2015
March 20, 2014
University Student Council 2014 -2015 2 Position Paper on the Proposed Academic Calendar Shift
Background This year, one of the most pressing university issues in UP Diliman is the proposed academic calendar shift. Simply put, the proposed shift aims to synchronize our academic calendar with other ASEAN countries to further internationalization. The proposal to shift the calendar started as early as June, 2013. At present, all the other UP units except UP Diliman decided to change their calendars. Last March 10, 2014 an Executive Committee meeting, composed of the deans and the chancellor, was held at the OUR. They decided to let the University Council finalize its stance on the issue on whether or not they’ll decide to propose the academic calendar shift to the Board of Regents. After the said meeting, USC Chairperson-elect Arjay Mercado talked with Chancellor Micheal Tan. According to the chancellor, he would like to hear the voice of the students on this issue. The talks in the previous meetings rely heavily on the faculty referendum done wherein majority of the faculty members agreed to the shift. Students’ take on the issue was not that entertained in the talks of the University Council. This coming March 24, 2014, the University Council meeting shall take place. The chancellor committed to forward the position to be advanced by the students to the University Council meeting. With this, the incoming University Student Council for the AY 2014 – 2015 decided to conduct a series of consultation efforts to reach out to the student body and know their side when it comes to the issue of the changes proposed to our academic calendar. Through this, the USC hopes that the members of the University Council and the Board of Regents will consider the call of the highest representative body of the UP Diliman students.
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Consultation Results The University Student Council used two methods to consult the student body: a survey and a series of org consultations. These two methods were used for the council to have a qualitative and quantitative basis in gauging the pulse of the students on this issue. In the survey questionnaire (See Appendix for the survey sheet), the council asked three questions. The first is whether or not the student agrees to the shift answerable by “Yes” or “No”. The student is asked to proceed to the second question should he/she chooses to say “Yes” in the first question. The next question asks the students their proposed implementation year. This is answerable by either “AY 2014 – 2015” or “Not Now”. The last question asks the students for comments regarding the issue. The target number of respondents was 10% of the total UP student population. This was further clustered into the different departments, batches, and courses in the different colleges. The survey was conducted from March 14 – 20, 2014. A total of 2,728 respondents answered the survey. In the org consultation, heads of student organizations were given consultation sheets. Aside from org issues, they were also asked if they will be adversely affected by the calendar shift. Around 200 organizations participated in the said org consultations. In this part, we shall present the results of our consultation efforts (See Appendix for full results tabulation). We shall present each college’s consultation results. Here, we shall pinpoint college-specific issues that we learned from the survey and the consultation on organizations.
Asian Institute of Tourism (AIT) In the Asian Institute of Tourism, out of 52 respondents, 30 agree to the shift while 22 are against it. 10 out of the 30 respondents who said yes would like to postpone the implementation. One major issue raised by most of the respondents from AIT is the issue on internships. They fear that the proposed calendar shift would adversely affect the scheduling of their On-the-Job Trainings (OJT). The organizations also manifested that some events and activities will be negatively affected by the shift. There’s also a sentiment on how the academic calendar shift may be bad for the tourism industry of the country.
University Student Council 2014 -2015 4 Position Paper on the Proposed Academic Calendar Shift
College of Architecture (Arki) Out of the 68 respondents in the College of Architecture, 51 said “Yes” to the shift while 17 voted for “No”. One of the main benefits of the shift to Arki students is the betterment of the schedule to fulfill academic requirements. Also, if implemented now, students may avail of extended internship programs during the summer to lessen the required internship hours for the board exam. On the other hand, there are concerns raised regarding the hot temperature during the months of April and May. The students said that a lot of UP buildings are not architecturally ready for the intense heat. The organizations registered that a lot of their events will be negatively affected by the shift. They manifested that should the shift be implemented this coming AY, they don’t have the time to prepare to adjust their org schedules this late.
College of Arts and Letters (CAL) The survey results from CAL showed a very close number of votes between “Yes” and “No”. Out of the 135 respondents, 68 of them agree to the shift while 67 do not agree to it. Out of the 68, 30 would like to defer the decision to shift the academic calendar. Most of the people who agreed to the shift argued that UP Diliman needs to synchronize with the other UP units and that the shift would be beneficial for the students. However, a lot of the students who voted for “No” in the first question and “Not Now” in the second question, stated that the calendar shift was so abrupt and that the campus is not yet ready for it. They associated this with the lack of student consultation, lack of concrete proposals on how the shift will go, etc. As for the organizations, many feel that more studies should be conducted on the issue. There’s also a concern of conflict in terms of the scheduled activities of the organizations.
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College of Business Administration (CBA) – Not the Virata School of Business In CBA, out of the 125 respondents, 97 agreed to the shift while 28 did not agree. 45 out of the 97 believed that the implementation should be deferred. Most of the reasons from the survey suggest that the students in this college see that UP Diliman should follow the shift of the other UP units. Also, a lot of the respondents see that avoiding the rainy season is beneficial for them. On the other hand, the schedule of the board exam and the abruptness of the decision to shift the calendar are the main reasons of the students to vote for “No” or “Not Now”. They also mentioned the improvement of facilities to adapt to heat as one of their primary concerns.
College of Fine Arts (CFA) In the College of Fine Arts, 52 out of the 86 respondents voted against the shifting of the academic calendar. Only 34 voted for the calendar change. For the student in CFA, the decision to change the academic calendar is too abrupt for the stakeholders to be properly consulted. They also raised that there are a lot of factors to be considered such as the budget received by UP, the problems in the education sector, etc. The hot temperature is also a major concern for the CFA students. The annual Lantern Parade scheduled December will now be at the same time of the students’ finals so they won’t be able to prepare well for it. An issue was raised regarding some CFA students’ practicum in basic education institutions. In general, the college finds the shifting of the calendar unnecessary.
College of Home Economics (CHE) Out of the 114 respondents in CHE, 74 agreed to the shift and 40 did not agree to it. 24 out of the 74 who agreed voted to postpone the implementation of the said academic calendar shift until the university has made all of the necessary preparations. Most of them see the benefits of the shift to their academic opportunities abroad. The general sentiment of the students in CHE is not to delay the process of the shift. However, Food Technology students registered their concern on the schedule of their practicum. Also, the FLCD students’ calendar will not be in line with the preschools’ calendar should the shift be implemented now.
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College of Human Kinetics (CHK) In CHK, 44 voted for “Yes” and 18 for “No”. 9 out of the 44 who agreed would want to postpone the shifting of the calendar. The main issue of the students is the season of tournaments. They request for mechanisms to ensure that there will be no conflicts should the shift be implemented.
College of Law (Law) Law students voted for the shift in the academic calendar. 214 out of the 340 respondents in this college said yes to the shift. The main concern of the students (especially the juniors) is the schedule of the Bar Examinations which up until now, does not have a guarantee of being reschedules to give time to review for the fresh graduates. However, the college demands to immediately decide on the issue so that necessary preparations may be planned as soon as possible.
College of Mass Communication (CMC) In CMC, 62 out of the 92 respondents voted “No” to the academic calendar shift. The general sentiment of the students is that the university is not yet ready for the change in the academic calendar. They manifested that the decision-making procedure of the administration is too hasty to be able to consult the major stakeholders properly. Also, a lot of them feel that the shift is unnecessary. They also raised the cultural impacts of the shift and also the effect of it to students who belong to a farmer’s household. For them, instead of shifting the calendar, the university must focus on other issues such as tuition hikes, education reforms, and many more. The students from CMC also demands concrete plans from the administration on how they want the shift to be implemented as to make the students have more information on the said university issue.
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College of Science (CS) In the College of Science, 190 respondents voted for “Yes” while 76 did not agree to the shift. However, if analyzed by institute and by batches, those student clusters who have field work are the ones who voted for “No” or “Not Now”. Also, there’s an issue when it comes to the schedule of the entrance exam for those who would like to take up Medicine. If the calendar is shifted, without the schedule of the exam adjusting, the graduating to students who wish to take up medicine will have to wait another year to take the test. Also, there will be more competing batches once they delay their exam for one year. There’s also a concern from NIGS that their field work needs to be scheduled during the months of April and May due to the seasonal requirements. Organizations also manifested that the process of consultation from the administration’s part is lacking and that there is less time to prepare for the shift at this point.
College of Social Sciences and Philosophy (CSSP) In CSSP, 101 out of 189 respondents voted for the shift in the academic calendar. Organizations have concerns regarding the events that would be adversely affected by the shift. They believe that there should be more time for them to adjust to the new calendar given the fact that the consultation done to the students was very abrupt. Also, there’s an issue raised when it comes to the hot temperature given that a lot of classrooms in Palma Hall aren’t ventilated well.
College of Social Work and Community Development (CSWCD) In CSWCD, most of the students (60 out of 89 respondents) voted against the calendar shift. They feel that there are a lot of other pressing issues that the administration must focus on. Also, they criticize the abrupt decision-making of the administration leaving little room for consultations and studies. They are also concerned for those students who belong to a farmer’s household. The hot temperature during the months of April and May were also raised. Lastly, the students are still unsure regarding the schedule of their field works should the shift be implemented.
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School of Economics (Econ) In Econ, 86 out the 108 respondents agree to the calendar shift. Most of them think that it’s a good thing to be in sync with other foreign countries and UP should spearhead this as the national university. However, 39 out of the 86 who voted for “Yes” feels that there should be more consultations and more time to prepare for the abrupt change. There should also be further research especially on the impact of the shift to other SUC’s. Weather condition is also a concern for the respondents.
College of Education (Educ) In Educ, 102 out of 163 voted for the shift. However, there are a lot of issues raised by the students from this college. First, there’s an issue on the synchronization of their college to basic education institutions where they usually conduct their practicum. Also, org events will be greatly affected. The college also raised that right now, they’re busy doing the curriculum for the newly implemented K+12 Program and there will be little room to adjust for the calendar shift given that the decision-making is too abrupt.
College of Engineering (Eng’g) In Eng’g, 303 out of the 576 respondents voted for the shift. In general, the students recognize the benefits of the shift when it comes to international opportunities. However, some issues were raised regarding academic concerns such as field work schedules and board exams. A lot of the students (141 out of the 303) also feel that the university is not yet ready for the shift this year. Also, organizations manifested that there’s little time to adjust their events to the new calendar due to a delayed decision-making.
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College of Music (CMu) In the College of Music, 46 out of 69 respondents agree to the shift and majority (34 out of 46) would like to postpone the shift in the academic calendar. One general sentiment is to synchronize with other UP units. However, issues on the abruptness of the decision and the temperature were raised. Organizations also manifested that the shift must not, in any way, adversely affect the schedule of their recitals, performances, and org activities. The abrupt shift will leave them little time to prepare. One specific issue is the fact that a lot of events from the college happens during December, which will now be the finals week in the proposed calendar.
National College of Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG) 101 out of the 124 respondents in NCPAG voted for the shift in the academic calendar. Some of which said that they want to defer the decision to implement it this coming school year. Most of the issues raised by the students are academic in nature (internship schedule for undergraduate students and disruption of work schedule for the graduate students). Also, the abruptness of the decision makes the students think that there will be little time to prepare for the transition. The abrupt transition is also the main concern of the organizations consulted from this college.
School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS) In SLIS, 23 out of the 40 respondents voted for “No” while 17 voted for “Yes”. The general sentiment is that the administration must prioritize improving the quality of education in the university before shifting the academic calendar. The procedure on how the decision-making was done by the administration is also in question. The students from SLIS want more time to study the issue. There are also org concerns when it comes to events schedules. Lastly, a concern on the schedule of the Board Exam was raised.
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School of Statistics (Stat) Out of the 51 respondents in the School of Statistics, 26 said “Yes” to the shift while the remaining 15 voted for “No”. One of the primary benefits of the shift for Stat students is the ongoing application for accreditation of the BS Statistics curriculum by the ASEAN Universities Network. Other benefit that they considered as well is a better schedule for the second semester and also the flexibility for students to participate in foreign exchange programs. However, concerns were raised regarding the hot temperature during the months of April and May. Organizations have manifested that should the shift be implemented this year, they don’t have the time to adjust their org schedule this late.
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USC’s Position: Postpone the Academic Calendar Shift The survey results that we have gathered showed that majority (1,834 out of the 2,728 respondents) of the students in UP Diliman agree to the proposed change in our calendar. The University Student Council agrees to the merits of the Academic Calendar Shift. It could open up opportunities for students to study abroad. We also see that this is beneficial to expand the exchange of knowledge. However, while we recognize the resounding agreement of majority of the students to the shift, the University Student Council of AY 2014 – 2015 would like to assert that the shifting of the academic calendar must be deferred. A lot of important issues were raised in the comment section of the survey forms and during the org consultations. These concerns need proper attention from the administration before implementing a significant change in the academic calendar.
Academic-Related Issues There were a lot of concerns raised when it comes to academic-related issues. First, there are some colleges (AIT and NCPAG) whose internship programs will be affected by the shift. Also, the calendar of the basic education system will not be synchronized with the university. As a result, students who need to take practicum in basic education institutions such as CFA, FLCD from CHE, and Educ are left with confusion as to how their practicum will be scheduled. Schedule conflicts with entrance exams, Board Exams and Bar Exams were also raised especially by Law, CBA, CS, Eng’g and SLIS. Up until now, there’s no guarantee as to how the schedule of these examinations will be adjusted for these students. Lastly, concerns regarding field work of some colleges (NIGS from CS, CSWCD, and Eng’g) were also manifested.
Logistical Concerns Various logistical concerns and questions were also raised regarding the academic calendar shift. The most recurring logistical issue (Arki, CBA, CFA, CSWCD, CSSP) is the very
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hot temperature. A lot of preparations when it comes to infrastructures must be done to guarantee that students would still be comfortable coming into class even during the months of April and May. We demand a detailed plan from the administration on how to ensure a comfortable academic environment for the students.
Org Concerns Many organizations also manifested that they need time to prepare and adjust their schedule to the proposed shift in academic calendar. Since the decision is to be made only now that the year is about to end, there’s not much time for organizations to move their events. This is an especially serious matter especially for organizations that already planned their events way back. National conferences involving other universities is also a point for concern since most of them are not shifting together with UP. A more specific issue is the concern of CHK students that sports competition must not conflict with the proposed new calendar.
Procedural Criticisms Perhaps the biggest criticism of the USC regarding this issue is the way it was brought up to the students. There was no concrete way from the administration to effectively consult the students on the issue. As manifested in both the survey results and the org consultations, the student body thinks that they weren’t properly informed. There’s a huge lack of plans from the administration when it comes to the questions being raised by the students such as those regarding academic concerns and logistical issues. We challenge the administration to defer the decision on the shift and push for a more consultative and informative decision-making procedure.
Challenges Remain In the end, while these concerns are left unanswered, we remain firm that the academic calendar shift must be deferred to another year. However, while we agree to the merits of the
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academic calendar shift, we should not forget the real problems of the university. A shift in the calendar alone does not guarantee a quality education for all students. It entails a continuous call for higher budget on the education sector to ensure quality and access. Also, we will not allow the shift in the calendar to lead to rationalization of courses and tuition fee increases. If logistical concerns are to be solved, the burden should not be passed on to the students, but to the national government. We hope to hear concrete answers to these student demands. And we want the answers as soon as possible. Talks about this issue have been going on for a long time. We hope that next week, before the school year ends, the administration can decide on this matter to finally end the confusion among the different stakeholders when it comes to preparations for the next year. We demand to defer the decision now.
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Appendix I. Survey Form
II. Tabulation of Results
COLLEGE/SCHOOL AIT ARKI CAL CBA CFA CHE CHK CMC CS CSSP CSWCD ECON EDUK ENGG LAW MUSIC YA 20 35 38 52 23 50 35 13 132 50 18 47 60 303 214 12 YN 10 16 30 45 11 24 9 17 58 51 11 39 42 141 59 34 N 22 17 67 28 52 40 18 62 76 88 60 22 61 132 67 23 TOTAL 52 68 135 125 86 114 62 92 266 189 89 108 163 576 340 69
University Student Council 2014 -2015 15 Position Paper on the Proposed Academic Calendar Shift NCPAG SLIS SOLAIR STAT SURP TOTAL 60 13 2 9 1186 41 4 0 6 648 1834 23 23 5 8 894 124 40 7 23 2728
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