Following the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (PAASCU) accreditation last February 18-19 and 27-28, PAASCU has resolved to give DLSU a level V accreditation – the newest level an institution of higher learning could receive.
PAASCU is a member of the Federation of Accrediting Agencies of the Philippines (FAAP), and educational institutions all over the country become members of associations such as PAASCU to assess their needs as an institution based on internationally recognized standards in educational management. DLSU is one of the eleven charter members that founded PAASCU.
The non-profit and non-stock corporation PAASCU, which started in 1957, assesses individual programs and institutions, transacting closely with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) in monitoring the performance of schools, colleges and universities.
This year, DLSU’s six colleges applied for re-accreditation. These six include the College of Computer Studies (CCS) the College of Education (CED), the College of Liberal Arts (CLA), the College of Science (COS), the School of Economics (SOE), and the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business (RVR COB).
Processing of the documents for the PAASCU accreditation were surprisingly expedient this year. “All sectors of the University managed to cooperate as one in a show of institutional unity, and the assessment committee had no problems whatsoever,” says Dr. Wyona Patalinghug, Director of the Institutional Accreditation and Assessment of Knowledge Productivity Office. “The main challenge of PAASCU really is making sure that the documents were there, that we were completely transparent. We made extra steps to be as transparent to the public as we could and look where it got us.
“The problem with our previous PAASCU assessments is because we were unable to secure sufficient documentation for the activities of our departments and the outputs of faculty. Everything has to be documented, and must go through a process that should be transparent to all University stakeholders, if we want to be recognized for who we are as an institution.”
University President Br. Ricky Laguda FSC shares that the accreditation is an occasion of joy for the entire University community. “All along we were trying to manage the impression of us merely ‘showing off’ that we are a good University only because of PAASCU season… when in fact we should show just who we are, and let accrediting bodies decide for themselves whether or not we are living up to our name as a world class, learner-centered University in the service of the poor.
“The fact that PAASCU has decided to give us a new ranking is a special accomplishment that re-affirms DLSU’s commitment to giving the best quality of education, accessible for all, while at the same time calling the University to bear in mind the responsibility of living up to its name as a pioneering educational institution.”
Laguda shares that the accreditation was not a direct result of any drastic improvements needed to spike the quality of education, physical plant, and community service that might have triggered the assessment. “Through its continuous efforts, perhaps the University had what it takes to be level V all along – it just had to be communicated effectively to the evaluators. But that is for them to decide, as all the administration is doing is asking for objective feedback necessary to improve the University.”
“To be perfectly honest, the administration is grateful for the news, but are as of yet still deciding on our next course of action for the University. It is important that we think carefully on where we are now and where we want to bring ourselves in the future, as per our vision mission. The accreditation was of course unexpected, but of course we have faith that we are on the right track in delivering quality education for the students.”
The University recently held a “mock” accreditation last November 12-13 to prepare and generate an internal assessment, which could help the University with the accreditation proper.
Citing the PAASCU report, since De La Salle University performed outstandingly during the accreditation, PAASCU had to conceptualize a new form of accreditation to differentiate the University and to encourage other universities to follow some of the practices of DLSU.
According to the report, the conceptualization of the new level led to the delay in the announcement of the PAASCU accreditation results. A meeting between the previous PAASCU presidents had to be convened to ensure that the new level would be acceptable.
Vice Chancellor for Academics Myrna Austria says that such an achievement could be linked to systemic faculty-centered reforms. “To quote the late Br. Roly Dizon, ‘A University is only as good as its faculty.’ Surely, PAASCU level V only means that once more our faculty have surpassed the highest standards of teaching and research excellence, traceable as a result of our revamped faculty development program.”
Some members of the faculty believe that the accreditation could be reflected more accurately in different terms. Physics professor Br. Joseph Scheiter FSC shares, “It’s a nice rating, sure, and it is quite novel. But the way I see it, the University still has a lot of work to do before it really deserves another milestone accreditation.
“Are we doing better than we did before? For instance, there used to be a time when 700 [basic education] teachers would sign up for our summer trainings in the Physics department. Now there are barely 30 who make up that number. ”
The report as recounted by Patalinghug’s office states that DLSU has perfect, consistent student and faculty attendance and programs and courses that are in sync with ISO standards. Its facilities and physical plant were ‘beyond par’ and were deemed a benchmark for other universities, while its extensive international linkages only reveal positive feedback about the quality of education provided in the University and accommodating services with quick processing time.
Level V accreditation, however, will not have any additional benefits aside from the higher accreditation, since the new level is highly irregular and was conferred to give credit to a university that has performed near perfection of the very ideals of a University as defined by PAASCU.
By definition, before a university can be given level V, it must first be level IV, where at least 75 percent of its programs stay at level III for 10 years, should have excellent outcomes in research, teaching and learning, community service and contribution to economic and social development, international linkages, as well as sound and well-developed planning processes supporting quality assurance mechanisms.
“The evaluators said that DLSU performed way differently in terms of these metrics,” says Patalinghug. She states that the University had been preparing for the assessment as early as three years ago, and that PAASCU evaluators were ‘agog’ with what they saw now.
“Conferring with them, they were amazed at how much DLSU had changed since the last visit, and also how much the institution has grown into what it is since the accreditation in the early 2000’s that brought DLSU its level IV accreditation.”
The accrediting body is, however, reviewing some additional benefits, which include an extension in reaching a consensus for tuition fee increases, and the option to approve mid-year increases.
As a matter of PAASCU corporate policy, institutional PAASCU level IV status is not a prerequisite of PAASCU level V. PAASCU level V is independent of the ordinal process of PAASCU accreditation, as it has not yet been codified. “They are not quite sure where to peg us yet. The evaluators have said that we are pretty much an isolated case,” states Patalinghug.