The transnational education law – a response to globalization
CROSSROADS (Toward Philippine Economic and Social Progress) - Gerardo P. Sicat (The Philippine Star) - October 2, 2019 - 12:00am

Foreign institutions of higher education are now allowed to set up educational services in partnerships with local universities in the country under the Transnational Higher Education Act (Republic Act 1148).

This law was recently passed by Congress, and signed on Aug. 28.

What is transnational education? The law defines transnational education as all types and modes of delivery of higher education study programs, sets of courses of study, or educational services that involve the participation of foreign educational entities with higher local institutions of learning

The new law allows a foreign higher educational institution to establish a commercial presence or provide educational services in the Philippines through various modes or arrangements with partner Philippine educational institutions.

For instance, it is now possible to have academic franchising, to get a branch campus of a foreign university set up, and to have joint degree programs offered between a foreign university and a local university.

There is no limit to the innovations that might be developed as the partner institutions undertake them in agreement with the development plan and within the constitutional framework.

In the meantime, the law makes way for various modalities of cooperative agreements. It covers a wide range of arrangements between foreign educational entities and the country. Some arrangements enhance the preparation of those whose main plan is foreign study.

The transnational educational strategy in its current conception is a response to the new demands of globalization which has made possible borderless teaching and learning.

Earlier tertiary-level transnational educational cooperation. Cooperative arrangements between Philippine institutions of higher learning and foreign universities have been around for years in the country.

Early undertakings have flourished in the country’s state educational institutions, principally at the University of the Philippines. Some units of UP have received special support from foreign educational institutions through help arranged from bilateral development assistance programs and/or private American foundations (notably, Ford and Rockefeller).

Such programs were designed to develop and harness fields of study that were deemed important and lacking within the country at early stages of development. Such fields of study covered the following: agriculture, engineering, public administration, economics, business, and statistics.

Among the most active American universities that helped in the past included the University of Michigan, the University of Wisconsin, and Stanford University at the University of the Philippines, but there were more.

In the private sector, one outstanding example was the founding of the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) which was originally a cooperative arrangement of three local institutions (Ateneo, La Salle, and the UP College of Business Administration) that bonded together with Harvard University through the support of private American foundations, principally Rockefeller.

Before AIM was set up, seminar training programs for business executives were undertaken by Harvard Business faculty during their summer months to expand business executive training programs.

Today, the modalities of transnational educational programs are less visible, more plentiful, yet more direct and possibly more cost efficient. However, there has been an awakening in the area of joint programs as a result of the changing atmosphere for demand for high quality education in the country.

Stakeholder institutions – those countries with well-developed university systems and those countries needing to expand the limits of their educational capacity are in a process of creating and evolving feasible cooperative programs among and within themselves.

The law itself enumerates some distinctive arrangements that are presently being used in other countries. Without any further elaboration (refer to the text of the law), some of these include: (1) academic franchising (2) Academic program offerings (3) Articulation (4) Specification of auxiliary services (5) Awarding of services (6) Branch campuses (7) Distance education (8) Double degree offerings (9) Joint degree offerings.

The countries that are the hosts to large influx of foreign students have been most involved in developing programs along the lines of transnational educational programs.

US institutions and those in Australia and the United Kingdom are among the most active currently in advancing and devising such programs. They are countries most exposed to the opportunities, as well as problems associated with hosting foreign students coming to their institutions for specialized training and study.

The UK recently helped to introduce a transnational education scheme designed to create niche programs with several Philippine universities. These programs are still experimental and would enable the local entities to upgrade the quality of transnational education in subjects considered national priorities but are unavailable locally, including food security and disaster risk management programs.

The opportunities and scope of such programs are likely to enlarge as a result of the new law. Such programs could enlarge within the area of cooperation in science and technology as well as development of local institutions in higher education.

Transnational educational programs in Asia. Other countries have led the field in undertaking programs involving transnational educational programs. We are in fact chasing the experience of other countries.

Within ASEAN, Singapore and Malaysia have been developing some programs for some years now which are helping sustain their economic prominence in the field. They make mistakes, but they learn from them.

Lately, other countries have followed suit, including Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam in the South East Asian region. These countries are also promising countries in the economic growth of the region.

Uniquely, too, the transnational educational experience of China has developed a wide range of programs with other countries. For decades now, China’s has been sending a continuous flow of students to many universities in the world.

Singapore’s relentless efforts in the educational field is marked by unique programs that focused in strengthening its local universities and institutes. The same can be said of Malaysia. Both countries have extensive arrangements with Australia and UK schools.

One of the outstanding experiments in Singapore is the Yale-NUS College, which is affiliated with the national university. The program is focused on undergraduate quality education. In addition, there institutes of research and academic programs that are tied up with MIT in Cambridge, USA. The programs accommodates involve mutually enhancing benefits from students of both institutions and advance Singapore’s educational aims.

In Malaysia, the MIT Sloan School of Management has helped set up and run a new Asian Business School.

My email is: gpsicat@gmail.com. For archives of previous Crossroads essays, go to: https://www.philstar.com/authors/1336383/gerardo-p-sicat. Visit this site for more information, feedback and commentary: http://econ.upd.edu.p h/gpsicat/

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