SUCs Amalgamation: Are we ready for it?

Last year, a Memorandum of Agreement signifying the support of the six State Universities and Colleges in Region I – University of Northern Philippines (UNP), Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University (DMMMSU), Ilocos Sur Polytechnic State College (ISPSC), Pangasinan State University (PSU), North Luzon Philippines State College (NLPSC) and Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) – in the implementation of the Amalgamation System prescribed by the Commission on Higher Education was executed.

With this scenario coming into place, a bottom-line question now arises: What would this amalgamation bring us all about?

The idea of amalgamation among Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and Programs requires restructuring of State Universities and Colleges (SUCs)/Local Universities and Colleges (LUCs) and other government-funded schools to improve efficiency in the delivery of quality programs, minimize duplication and promote complementation between and among public and private HEIs.

This goal, as part of the government’s Higher Education Reform Agenda is expected to obstruct the prevalent practice of establishing new SUCs and of switching state colleges into universities although they are unqualified.

Simply put, this program aligns SUCs into a Regional University System in Region I.

Amalgamations between and among universities can result in difficulties caused by the combination of campus cultures, personnel, disciplines and the pressure of management to a large-scale university.
Considering the huge number of students who will enroll in a single university, most problems regarding facility, governance and administration and academic activities will probably take into place. Pangasinan State University, with highest number of enrolment currently has more or less 18, 000. North Luzon Philippines State College, having the smallest number, has approximately 2000 enrollees. UNP has almost 10000. Experiences from USA, Australia and The Netherlands demonstrate that it can take up to ten years before a similar situation is normalized.

Another thing, the amalgamation process is time consuming. It requires lot of resources, especially in the short term. The regional university system needs a lot of planning before, during and after the process.

Should the amalgamation process pursue, a single regional university will cause unease especially to those students who are from afar places. This would also mean additional financial burden to those who, instead of studying in the nearby university would be forced to move to a more distant school because of amalgamation. Or worse, studying in college would only be then an illusion to those who cannot totally afford it.

Amalgamation is a means to improve efficiency to among 101 state universities and colleges across the country. However, isn’t it a means that throb SUCs? The budget for 2012 to SUCs is greatly a survival budget. It’s just half of the actual needs. Not even enough for subsistence. If this amalgamation will pursue, would it mean a more reduction to the total budget?

The eventual pursuance of the Regional University System lies on the hands of the lawmakers who will create its charter. But before they proceed to such action, all aspects should be considered - the effects of amalgamation should be scrutinized and assessed in the long run. In the end, everyone has a say on this issue.

Author: Bryan Viloria

Never aim high neither expect high.

He is the Director of Junior Philippine Institute of Accountants - University of Northern Philippines Chapter Instruction Committee.

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