MANILA -- House Committee on Higher Education Chairman Roman Romulo said the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has been asked to determine whether it has legal authority to stop colleges and universities from changing their academic calendar.
Speaking to media after a congressional inquiry on the academic calendar shift, Romulo said the body was given two weeks to present a position paper regarding the issue.
He said the CHED had said that the law allows schools to start their school years anytime between June and August and cannot be prevented from doing so.
He said he wants to know if CHED needs a law to be empowered to rationalize school calendars.
Romulo, who sits in the University of the Philippines (UP) Board of Regents, said he did not vote during the deliberations on the matter of the change in the academic calendar.
He noted that right now, the educational sector is governed by three agencies -- CHED, Department of Education (DepEd), and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
He said the DepEd has already said they are against a change in the academic calendar. He said during the hearing, the representative of the private schools preferred that the CHED be the one to provide direction on the matter.
Meanwhile, Rep. Evelina Escudero raised concerns that a shift in academic calendar may affect the conduct of elections, which happens on the second Monday of May.
But UP Vice President for Public Affairs Prospero de Vera pointed out that UP campuses are not used for elections.
UP is one of the tertiary institutions that have cited the integration of the Philippines with the ASEAN system of tertiary education as a reason for their academic calendar shift. These schools say it will maximize the opportunities for students to engage in educational programs in other countries.
Escudero noted that the shift must consider the fact that graduating secondary students will have a long break before starting college in UP.
De Vera explained that the months before the start of the adjusted calendar will be devoted to bridging programs for students who need it before beginning their college studies in UP.
He added that they are also considering moving the schedule of the UP College Admission Test (UPCAT).
Rep. Ben Evardone, meanwhile, criticized CHED's alleged failure to provide a coherent policy on the matter of conforming to international standards in upgrading the quality of education.
"Instead of coming up with a unified program. I may be wrong, maybe CHED has a program for that purpose. It appears na wala. Iba ba sinasabi ng SUCs [State Universities and Colleges] at CHED. Kung hindi tayo magkasundo sa schedule lang, how much more sa content? Nagkakagulo yung mga gagraduate ngayong March," he said.
Aside from UP, the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) and University of Sto. Tomas (UST) have announced plans to shift the start of their academic calendar.