Amid the country’s economic recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Senator Win Gatchalian cites the important role of local universities and colleges (LUCs) in increasing access to education while addressing persistent jobs-skills mismatch.
In a webinar titled “The Future of Local Colleges and Universities” hosted by the Philippine Futures Thinking Society and the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Valenzuela (PLV), Gatchalian said in his keynote address that LUCs can bridge the gap between jobs and skills while serving the poorest families in their jurisdiction. Since LUCs report to the local government units (LGUs) that established them, Gatchalian explained that they are more nimble, responsive, and demand-driven to local situations and needs, especially in providing skilled professionals that LGUs need.
For Gatchalian, LUCs should strive to be centers of human capital development and play key parts in the long-term development plans of LGUs. They should also strengthen partnerships with the private sector, adopt their curriculums to conform to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and promote the use of flexible learning methods, the lawmaker added.
Lastly, Gatchalian seeks a standardized higher education quality measurement of LUCs, which should produce graduates who can be gainfully employed.
“LUCs can be a driving force not only in serving our poor constituents, but also in terms of solving the job-skills mismatch in the country, thereby contributing to economic growth and faster recovery after the pandemic,” said Gatchalian.
Nationwide, there were 121 LUCs or 5.05 percent of the country’s 2,396 higher education institutions (HEIs) for school year (SY) 2019-2020, based on the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) data. There were 248,731 students enrolled in LUCs, which is equivalent to seven percent of HEI enrollment, for SY 2019-2020.
Gatchalian pointed out, however, that some regions only have few or zero LUCs. Both the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and Cagayan Valley, for instance, have zero LUCs.
To ensure that quality education is the paramount consideration of LGUs when creating an HEI, Gatchalian filed Senate Bill No. 370 or the “Local Universities and Colleges Governance Act.” The proposed measure seeks to prescribe mandatory standards for the establishment and operation of LUCs. It also institutes parameters to shield the operation and administration of LUCs from politicking.
Gatchalian also pushed for the inclusion of LUCs in the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education (Republic Act 10931) or the free tuition law. Under the law, students from CHED-accredited LUCs are exempt from paying tuition and other fees.