By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) on Saturday confirmed that all State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) and Local Universities and Colleges (LUCs) are enjoined to shift their respective academic calendars to August starting this Academic Year (AY) 2019-2020.
Prospero De Vera, CHED Chairman, told the Manila Bulletin that he issued a CHED Memorandum Order wherein all SUCs and LUCs were enjoined to start their academic calendars in the month of August.
“It has been planned since last year after the budget hearings on cash-based budgeting were discussed,” he said. “Some SUCs had already changed their calendar even before that memo was issued,” he added.
In CHED memorandum dated April 5, 2019, issued to CHED Regional Office Directors, Officers-in-Charge, Heads of SUCs and LUCs, De Vera officially announced that SUCs and LUCs may shift their academic calendars “to begin in August of every year” starting this coming academic year.
The move, De Vera said, is “pursuant to the pertinent provisions of RA 7722, otherwise known as ‘Higher Education Act of 1994’ and CEB Resolution No. 142-2019.” All SUCs and LUCs, he said, “are enjoined to synchronize its respective Academic Year (AY) to a Fiscal Year (FY) starting FY 2019 and to ensure that starting FY 2020, all SUCs and LUCs have synchronized their academic year to a fiscal year.”
De Vera clarified the “main reason for the shift” is the “special provision” in the 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA) citing that “CHED should synchronize” the academic calendar to August for SUCs and LUCs. “The other reasons are for internationalization and facilitating linkages with other universities,” he added.
However, De Vera clarified that “enjoined” means the CHED is “encouraging” the SUCs and LUCs to shift their academic calendars to August. “Those who are ready are doing it now. The others can do it when they are ready,” he added.
Meanwhile, De Vera said that this directive is only for public HEIs. “Private HEIs don’t get reimbursement of tuition and miscellaneous so they are not affected by cash-based budgeting,” he said, pertaining to the implementation of the Republic Act (RA) 10931 or Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act (UAQTEA).
Signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte in 2017, the RA 10931 provides free higher education which will cover tuition, miscellaneous, and other fees in 112 SUCs and 78 CHED-recognized LUCs); a TES; free Technical-Vocational Education and Training (TVET) for those enrolled in state-run Technical Vocational Institutions, and a Student Loan Program (SLP).
Many HEIs have already moved their academic calendars from June to later months.
The University of the Philippines System – which includes the UP Diliman, UP Manila, UP Los Banos, UP Baguio, UP Visayas, UP Mindanao, UP Open University, and UP Cebu implemented the new academic calendar – on a pilot basis – starting August 2014.
UP President Alfredo Pascual, in an earlier statement, said that the ASEAN integration prompted the UP system to adopt a new academic calendar.
Synchronizing the academic calendar with most ASEAN, European and American academic partners, he said, “will create more joint programs and partnerships with other universities, allow students to get transfer credits and address the problem with semestral gaps with partner universities.”
The De La Salle University (DLSU), as early as 2013, has announced its plans to move the opening of classes to September.
DLSU said it was making the shift to a September to April academic calendar in 2015 because of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) economic integration.
In 2015, the University of Santo Tomas (UST) and the Ateneo de Manila University also shifted their respective academic calendars to August.