University DLSU IPO, in the works
University DLSU IPO, in the works
DLSU IPO, in the works
April 27, 2014
April 27, 2014

The Board of Trustees (BOT) has declared that the University will be going public – interested parties, organizations and individuals will soon be able to have a direct stake in the University as its very first shareholders.


In an announcement to the academic community dated last April 9, DLSU President and Chancellor Br. Ricky Laguda, FSC declared that the BOT, after a comprehensive and thorough review of the University’s direction in the coming years, has decided that the University’s future will necessitate its financing not just through tuition and fees, but also through the investment of external stakeholders.


“Finding that the University is growing far beyond its potential, including its expansion into new campuses and the integration of the ASEAN educational system, DLSU has to reinforce its financing efforts to improve on University processes,” wrote Laguda in the announcement.


“In the spirit of innovation and faithfulness to the times, the Board of Trustees has found that the best way to finance what could potentially be the best university in the ASEAN region is by letting the community of regional investors take part in the future of higher education,” the President continued.


An initial public offering for proprietary tertiary education means that a university such as DLSU will be releasing shares of stock, open to investors, to generate equity financing for its operations. It generally means improving on the financial infrastructure of the University. This in turn would permit DLSU to source more funding for its expansion to new campuses and to increase its scholar population.


By opening itself to investors, the University would have to be categorized as an educational services corporation. The label legally allows the university to source its revenues from its students. All tuition and miscellaneous fees collected from Lasallians will be disclosed as revenues in the institution’s financial statement.


Fifty percent scholar target


“Beyond this, DLSU is no longer merely a research university – it is also a university that is responsible for sustaining the world class education of more than 20 percent of its population through its many scholarships…But with this brave new direction, we can emulate the example of other La Salle schools, whose scholar populations exceed half of their total. We are confident enough to state that DLSU’s opening of itself to investors will allow us to fund the studies of more than 50 percent of its population,” Laguda also mentioned in his written announcement.


The investment support that the Board has forecasted for the University will allow this percentage of students to learn from one of the best educational institutions in the country, if not in the ASEAN region.


Laguda confirms with The LaSallian that the Board has been considering the move for some time now, and has only reached consensus given the prevalent conditions of higher education in the region and in the country. “This has been in the pipeline for more than 13 years now and we think with the revision of the academic calendar and the implementation K-12 program, it is more timely to prepare for DLSU’s IPO now.”


He follows, sharing that another incentive for the move towards a more proprietary education would be permitting DLSU to compete with the salary standards of industry experts and permit them to pursue careers in the academe as serious researchers who are able to impart relevant, and not abstract, knowledge to students. “Our industry experts, who usually serve in a part-time capacity, will be able to teach full-time in order to dedicate all of their efforts to shaping minds, touching hearts, and transforming lives,” affirms Laguda.


There will be no immediate changes in the academic curriculum of the University after its IPO, but there plans to develop online courses to accommodate more enrollees. “We want to target more part-time students and employed professionals to enroll at DLSU…The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academics suggested coming up with online courses – it will be one of the first projects that will be funded by the IPO returns,” Laguda adds.


Commodified education?


De La Salle University will be starting its investor’s roadshow in June, looks to set the University towards a course of providing a commodified education dictated more powerfully by market demand.


Dante Leoncini, Faculty Association President, shares, “While I appreciate the fact that the faculty stand to have better salaries and report to a more efficient administrative structure, it cannot be denied that permitting investors to tamper with our curriculum effectively strips us of our academic freedom. While well-meaning, the Faculty Association is not in support of this move by the Board of Trustees.”


Illuminado Montemayor, President of the DLSU Parents of University Students’ Organization, says that the sectors were not sufficiently consulted, and that while parents will be reassured of their children’s employment, it is not a direction that fully develops their students. “We from PUSO agree that sometimes there are courses that we no longer need, and that our children will be graduating into a highly competitive job market, this financialization is not the solution to making the students more competitive. It will deprive them of more holistic opportunities.”


Incoming USG President Carlo Inocencio tells that the memorandum was given without prior consultation. “Technically, despite the end of the turnover, it will still be next year when we have to face this concern. However, the USG committees and Executive Board, with the Dean of Student Affairs, will meet after Holy Week to discuss the student position on the declaration. But most of our USG officers will be on summer break, so it is likely that the discussions will formally be held after USG recruitment in the first term.”


Laguda defends the move, sharing, “It is not a matter of whether the University is commodified or not, because all Universities seek to minimize the difference between revenues and costs. What the move entails is a higher educational institutions that offers enormous opportunities in meeting the demand for specific skills and competencies.”


When asked whether the BOT is eyeing certain businessmen who have openly invested in other universities that went public, Laguda dodges the question and instead reassures that these businessmen only invest in educational institutions out of philantrophy. DLSU has granted three businessmen with naming rights in the past years. The College of Engineering was named after Robinsons Corporation mogul John Gokongwei Jr., the College of Business after Ramon V. Del Rosario, and the Centennial Hall after Henry Sy Sr.


“Our graduates are in a way geared towards the highest professional standards and competence, as described in our Expected Lasallian Graduate Attributes, and by default are already tailor fit for integration in businesses, the government, and the academe. If they choose not to pursue this track, they will at least be effective and efficient in whatever ventures they explore,” Laguda ends.


The University will be listed in the Philippine Stock Exchange as De La Salle University incorporated. All interested investors are welcomed to attend the roadshow this June.