“De La Salle University will be going semestral again.”
These were the words enunciated by DLSU Presidentand Chancellor Br. Dennis Magbanua FSC in an exclusive statement, confirming rumors that DLSU is indeed shifting back to the semestral system.
The confirmation from the Brother President came after a meeting between the Board of Trustees and members of the administration last April 1.
In time for the forthcoming academic calendar shift, DLSU is set to again modify its academic calendar system from trimestral, consisting of three terms with 14 weeks each, to semestral, with two semesters comprising 18 weeks each.
#Throwback to semestral
In 1971, DLSU—then called De La Salle College (DLSC)—shifted from a semestral system to a trimestral one, as envisioned in the De La Salle Ten-Year Development Plan from 1973 to 1983. Due to issues with growing inflation, retention of faculty, and lack of space in the Taft campus, then-Vice President for Academic Affairs Br. Andrew Gonzalez FSC suggested the shift, based on his studies conducted abroad. This proposition was then approved by Br. Hyacinth Gabriel Connon FSC, who, at the time, was DLSC president.
The trimestral system allowed the University to gain more money without increasing the tuition fees, subsequently permitting the school to solve the issue on inflation and faculty salaries. The change also maximized the facilities of the University since they would be used for 42 weeks, instead of just 36, in a year.
After a successful pilot test in the DLSU Graduate School of Business, the administration ultimately decided to pursue the shift in academic year 1981-1982. However, after over 30 years since the initial implementation of the change, the University administration has decided to revert to its former system of offering two semesters in a year instead of three terms.
Rest, relaxation, and research
Vice Chancellor for Academics Dr. Myrna Austria explains that the trimestral system will be immaterial once DLSU aligns its academic calendar with other ASEAN universities and overseas institutions. According to Dr. Austria, “If we stick with the trimestral system, [we] would not have any summer break because in the trimestral set-up, the three terms will be spread out evenly over the year.”
In DLSU’s pursuit of becoming a leading research university in the Asia-Pacific region, the change is designed with competitiveness in mind, reminds Dr. Austria. “We would like to be considered by students and faculty from other countries as a serious [academic institution],” she reasons. Dr. Austria cites that if the University did not offer summer vacations of considerable length, it would be highly difficult for the faculty and students to dedicate time for rest and relaxation, “or for additional research,” she adds.
For the students and the parents
Despite the lack of discussion between other stakeholders of the University, student and parent groups have shared their enthusiasm for the impending change.
University Student Government President Carlo Inocencio comments that a semestral calendar will be more beneficial for students. He took to social media platform Twitter to explain, “This [will give] students their much-needed summer break in between academic years. We can finally say ‘May summer na sa La Salle!’ and have our breaks coincide with that of other universities like UP and AdMU.”
Most students express general approval for the semestral shift due to the term being less rushed, allowing for more time to be dedicated to discussing lessons in class. Some students also point out the promise of a two-month summer vacation at the end of the year. “Much summer, much yes,” famous Lasallian personality @Lozolpls concisely expressed via Twitter.
With a longer break, students are also looking forward to more opportunities to take during the summer. “I will finally be able to do internships during the summer, because of this change back to a semestral system,” gushes Coeli Fortun (II, AB-DVS). She adds that the break will also allow for students to focus on other things like their holistic wellbeing.
Meanwhile, DLSU Parents of University Students Organization (DLSU-PUSO) President Iluminado Montemayor claims that parents will deeply benefit from the change because of decreased tuition fees. On the official Facebook page of the group, he posted, “Instead of paying tuition thrice a year for three or more years, we only need to pay twice for four years.”
The move will represent a decrease of 20 percent in tuition fees, Montemayor claims, based on a recent study conducted by DLSU-PUSO. “Since the payment will be spread out on a longer timeframe, parents can expect to save money in this system,” he states.
Faculty in dismay
In contrast to the jovial mood of students and parents, various faculty members and other personnel of the University have expressed disappointment over news of the upcoming semestral shift.
DLSU Faculty Association President Dante Leoncini laments that the change will have a significant impact on the salary of his fellow professors. Commenting on a post verifying the change on the official DLSU Facebook page, he wrote, “The 20-or-so percent decrease in tuition fees will come at the expense of the salary of the University’s professors. The decrease in tuition fees is not aligned with the difference of the work time between the trimestral and semestral systems.”
The comment has not yet received an official reply but has since garnered a lot of likes from other professors with a strong presence on the social media platform.
As the administration prepares for both the shift in the academic calendar and to a semestral system for the next year, Br. Magbanua FSC requests the support and help from all sectors of the University. The administration calls on various stakeholders of the University to air their valid concerns on Facebook or Twitter by adding the hashtag #ThrowbackSemestral.