Bernardo M. Villegas
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Innovations in the Educational Sector (Part 3)

          Because of the innovating DNA that was part of the precursor institution CRC, the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) from the first moment of its existence as an institution higher learning started to contribute innovative educational programs that were meant to meet the needs of Philippine society.  When it opened its College of Arts and Sciences, it was the first university in the Philippines to offer to entering first year students the option to work directly for a masteral degree (instead of the conventional bachelor’s degree) in an innovative five-year program.  This was first applied to the existing Master of Science in Industrial Economics program that was already part of the educational offerings of CRC.  This enabled above-average students who could maintain a high weighted grade average in their first four years in the industrial economics curriculum to opt to continue for another year and earn a masteral degree of science in industrial economics after just another additional year mostly devoted to research seminars and the writing of a masteral thesis.  The same template was applied to other specializations.  For example, UA&P is the first university in the country to offer a Masteral of Science in Management degree.  The M.S. in Science is a very popular graduate degree in Europe in which graduate students in business or management opt to work for a masteral degree in management straight from college, an alternative to the more popular Master in Business Administration (MBA) that proliferated in North American universities.  The difference between an M.S. in Management and an MBA is that the former does not require any work experience while the latter can usually be taken only by those who have had three to four years of business experience.

         The five-year straight masteral program for above-average students was also adopted by the other schools of UA&P, i.e. Political Economy, Integrated Marketing Communications, Education, and the Humanities in which masteral degrees (in the sciences or arts) can also be obtained in a five-year straight program.  I am proud to say that these programs have contributed to increasing the number of masteral degree holders in the various fields who could go into the academe because they now have the requisite masteral degrees for teaching in undergraduate programs.  Although the strong liberal arts foundation of all the specialized offering is not an innovation, I must say that UA&P is one of the few institutes of higher learning that more than just pay lip service to liberal arts or the humanities as an indispensable preparation for any career.  For example, I often lament that the General Education program associated with former President Cinco of the U.P. in which I participated as an economics professor in University of the Philippines in the late 1960s and early 1970s has literally vanished from a U.P. education today.  We at UA&P are strongly convinced that the liberal arts or the humanities should be the foundation of any specialized professional offering if we are to cultivate the necessary skills of analytical thinking, effective communication and ability to relate various disciplines to one another which every professional needs so that he or she will never be replaced by Artificial Intelligence(AI) or by robots.

         The five-year straight masteral program (an innovation in the Philippine educational system) naturally led to another more recent innovation that arose because of the K to 12 curriculum.  UA&P now offers what it calls the 6YP (or Six-Year Program) for those who have finished Grade 10 of basic education and would want to enroll in the Junior College of UA&P which substitutes for their senior high school (Grade 11 and 12).  Not only are these enrollees in the 6YP already treated as college students; they also can already opt to spend six years in the university to pursue a masteral degree in economics, management, political economy, the humanities and education.  In other words, from Grade 11 to the fourth year of college, they can already qualify for a master’s degree after six years.  This will also increase the number of qualified teachers for undergraduate programs.

    Let me make special mention of the Integrated Marketing Communications Program of our School of Communications.  Without doubt, this is the pioneer IMC graduate program in the Philippines as well as  a leader of IMC education in Asia.  IMC is an emerging global discipline within the field of communication that redefines the ways of building and managing business organizations from a multidisciplinary perspective.  It draws from the areas of business management, marketing, marketing research and marketing communications (e.g. advertising, customer relationship management, new media technologies and corporate communications).   On their fifth and final year, IMC graduate students undergo the Professional Residency Program, a hands-on application of theories and concepts.  The major advertising agencies, both national and multinational, are among the partner companies in which the IMC students to their on-the-job training, as well as leading marketing-oriented organizations as Nestle, Unilever and Del Monte.   The positions occupied by IMC graduates are quite varied:  account management, creative copywriting and art direction, marketing or brand management, marketing research, corporate communications, public relations, strategic and account planning and media planning and management.         (To be continued)