Budget cuts blamed for low university rankings


Posted at Sep 12 2012 06:37 PM | Updated as of Sep 13 2012 02:47 AM

MANILA, Philippines – A party-list representative is not surprised that the country’s top universities slipped in this year’s rankings of London-based Quacquarelli Symonds, saying it is only an effect of the government’s budget cuts in higher education.

“Budget cuts in the past years clearly have an effect on the performance of our state universities,” Kabataan party-list Rep. Raymond Palatino said in a statement.

University of the Philippines (UP) dropped to 348th overall this year in the 2012 QS World University Rankings from 332nd place in 2011.

Its best ranking was 262nd place in 2009.

Except for UP, the country’s top universities are all private institutions. Ateneo de Manila University, which placed higher than UP in 234th place in 2009, plunged to the 451st to 500th bracket this year.

De La Salle University and University of Santo Tomas (UST), meanwhile, were at the 601+ bracket.

“While UP does not reportedly participate in the QS survey, the downgrade in its ranking shows us that government policies and funding indeed have an effect on performance,” Palatino said.

“UP already receives the lion’s share of the budget of state universities and colleges (SUCs), but as we pointed out before, the allocation it receives is still not enough.

“It is not surprising that other SUCs were not able to make it to the QS survey. As compared to UP, these state schools receive even less,” he added.

According to the lawmaker, UP is set to receive P6.84 billion this year under the General Appropriations Act, on top of the P1.3 billion given by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) in January under the government’s Disbursement Acceleration Plan.

But he said this is still not enough. “The P8-billion allocation for UP is still less than half of its original proposal,” Palatino said, adding that UP originally proposed P17 billion to DBM.

On tuition

Pointing to the decline in rankings of Ateneo, La Salle and UST, Palatino stressed that higher tuition does not translate to better performance.

“Tuition in private schools has been on an all-time high in the past years, but it clearly doesn’t translate to better performance,” he said.

Citing data from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), the lawmaker said the current national average tuition rate per unit is P475.47, while the average tuition rate in Metro Manila is P985.05 per unit this year, or P20,000 to P40,000 per semester.

“CHED needs to review the policy on approving tuition increases in such a way that schools will be compelled to show how tuition hikes will affect school performance. Otherwise, there would be no compelling reasons for school owners to adjust tuition rates,” he said.

What about next year?

Palatino said that despite the increase in the government’s budget on SUCs next year, these would not “have a significant impact on university rankings.”

“We foresee that this budget will not significantly improve university rankings as it will not impact key areas that QS measures,” he said.

For this year, QS based the university rankings on academic reputation, employer reputation, faculty-to-student ratio, citations per faculty, international faculty and international students.

“As was pointed out in the plenary debate in Congress yesterday, despite the reported budget increase for SUCs, it will not impact key growth areas including faculty research,” he said.