MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) is eyeing the possibility of implementing a national qualifying exam for specific courses in line with efforts to improve the quality of graduates in these fields.
“There are plans to have a national entrance exam like the NMAT (National Medical Admission Test) or the NVAT (National Veterinary Admission Test) for specific courses, particularly maritime courses,” CHED executive director Julito Vitriolo said.
He said they are also thinking of having a national admission test to screen those who wish to be admitted to education and engineering courses in college.
“We are studying it. It’s about time,” Vitriolo said.
The CHED is mulling a maritime admission test at a time when the country has to convince the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) that deficiencies in naval training programs have been addressed.
Filipino seafarers could lose their jobs in European Union-flagged ships if the Philippines fails to correct maritime education flaws.
Vitriolo said the national qualifying exam can help regulate the quality of maritime graduates.
He added that those who do not pass the admission test may take other courses.
“They can also take the training for ratings (non-officers) instead of taking the full college course on BS marine engineering and BS marine transportation,” Vitriolo said.
He said the CHED hopes that only potential marine officers are admitted to college maritime programs.
CHED Chairman Patricia Licuanan said only eight percent of graduates of marine transportation and marine engineering courses take the board exam and proceed to become officers.
“So for all these schools, about 90 percent of the graduates end up as non-officers. We want to realign (maritime training) so we have less schools but quality graduates,” she said.
The EU has acknowledged the progress made by the Philippines in raising the standard of training of Filipino seafarers and is set to visit the country this October for an audit.
A further EMSA inspection is needed to verify on the spot the implementation of measures taken in line with the requirements of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers.
As of 2013, there are about 100,000 Filipino seamen on board ships from the 28-member EU, according to the European Commission.