Looking for colleges? Start with provinces

By Purple S. Romero, abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak
In the 2006 movie “Accepted,” high school senior student Bartleby “B” Gaines invented the fake school “South Harmon Institute of Technology” (S.H.I.T) after he failed to pass the entrance exams of various colleges and universities.

He turned a former mental hospital into the S.H.I.T school building, created its Web site, and persuaded a former dean-turned-grocery employee to pose as the headmaster.

Gaines’ situation is not lost among Filipino students. While inventing a school may still remain a far-fetched option, high school students do scramble for slots in universities and colleges come senior year.

Students often set their sight on the top-tier institutions: University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University. But in case they fail to get into any of these, they list other schools for fallback, majority of which line the avenues of Manila.

But one need not go far.

Thousands of choices

Data from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) show that as of December 2007, there were 2,036 schools scattered across the country offering tertiary education. These are divided into 522 public higher education institutions (HEIs) and 1,514 private HEIs.

The numbers are on upward slope – from 2004 to 2007, there has been a 13 percent increase of HEIs. Public HEIs have increased 23 percent within the four-year span, while private HEIs rose to 11 percent. These are the schools with satellite campuses or annexes.

Thousands of HEIs could translate to a thousand choices. But students and parents look for quality, affordability and accessibility.

Dr. Jean Tayag, CHED Director IV in policy, planning, research and information told Abs-cbnnews.com/Newsbreak that in choosing a school, look for the following: accreditation of programs, status, centers of excellence (COEs) or centers of development (CODs).

Value of accreditation

Remember when special preparations were done for visits of representatives of the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (PAASCU)? Back then, students may not have fully understood the whole brouhaha over these visits, but these are part of the accreditation process.

Program accreditation evaluates the services, faculty and instruction offered by schools. Hence, accreditation answers the concerns of students and parents over the kind of facilities, administration, research and curriculum that an HEI has.

Program accreditation has different levels, the highest of which is level IV. Level III however, is used by CHED as yardstick for granting HEIs autonomous and deregulated status.

CHED data show that Central Philippine University in Iloilo City has nine programs with level III accreditation, six of which are engineering programs.

Tagbilaran City’s Holy Name University has programs on accountancy, arts and sciences, commerce and education with level III accreditation. Same with Holy Cross Davao College in Davao City, for its programs on Commerce, Education and Liberal Arts.

On the other hand, University of Mindanao has four programs with level III accreditation: bachelor of elementary education, secondary education, business administration and liberal arts.

Across the country, region three has the most number of public HEIs with level III program accreditation at 29. National Capital Region (NCR) has none, but it has the biggest number of private HEIs with level III accreditation at 74, followed by region seven with 37.

Accrediting bodies for private HEIs include PAASCU, the Christian Schools, Colleges and Universities Accrediting Agency, Inc., and the Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities Commission on Accreditation.

On the other hand, the National Network of Quality Accrediting Agencies serves as network for accrediting bodies for public schools. These include the Accrediting Agency of Chartered Colleges and Universities of the Philippines and the Association of Local Colleges and Universities Commission on Accreditation.


Autonomy and deregulation allow HEIs to revise their curriculum and change their tuition without approval from CHED. They also place the schools in CHED’s priority list for grants, subsidies and financial assistance.

Data from CHED show that University of St. Louis in Tuguegagrao enjoys five-year autonomy until 2012, as well as St. Louis University in Benguet.

In NCR, aside from top tier schools, St. Joseph’s College of Quezon City and Jose Rizal University have also been granted five-year autonomy status.

On the other hand, a number of HEIs have one year autonomy, due for re-application again in November 2008. These include St. Paul University of Dumaguete, University of San Carlos, Siliman University and University of San Jose-Recoletos in Cebu.

As of December 2007, there were 12 HEIs nationwide that have been deregulated.

Centers of quality

HEIs are recognized by CHED as Centers of Excellence and Centers of Development in different programs when they possess top-rate faculty, instruction, research, facilities, outreach programs and when they produce exemplary graduates.

Central Luzon State University in Nueva Ecija is a COD in biology and chemistry. It is also the Regional Research and Development Center in Central Luzon. An alumnus of CLSU, scientist Dr. Fiorello Abenes, recently returned to the country from the US to share his discovery on carabao as a paradigm for biofuel.

Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT) is a COE in chemistry and mathematics and a COD in biology, physics, and information technology.

Another school in the south that is highly recommendable, according to Tayag, is Siliman University (SU) in Dumaguete. SU is a COD in business and accountancy, information technology and biology. In Cebu, the University of San Carlos is a COE in chemistry and a COD in biology, physics and business administration.

Lorma Colleges in region one has been a COD for information technology since 2003.


“Another important indicator of a good school is its performance in licensure examinations,” Tayag said.

CHED and the Professional Regulation Commission came out with a 2005 compilation of statistics on the performance of schools in licensure exams. This is a follow-up to the first compilation published in 2004.

A number of HEIs in provinces have high passing rate in licensure exams, sometimes even higher than those of top universities. La Consolacion College-Bacolod City has an 89 percent passing rate in the licensure examination for architects in 2005, higher than the 81 percent passing rate of UP-Diliman.

In schools under cluster 2, or those which fielded 10-99 examinees, SU has the same passing rate – 89 percent – as that of UP Diliman in the licensure exams for certified public accountants (CPA). SU has also been identified as a high performer for seven times among 94 schools in Central Visayas.

Bulacan State University has been touted a high performer in the licensure examinations for engineering programs, from civil to electrical engineering. It has also posted a high passing rate in the licensure examinations for teachers in the elementary level with 44 percent out of the national passing rate of 28 percent.

In Mindanao, MSU-IIT registered eight high performances in the licensure examinations for CPAs, civil, electronics and communications, mechanical, chemical and registered electrical engineers and teachers in the elementary and secondary level.

HEIs in provinces have also made their mark in the bar examinations. In the 2007 bar exams, law students from the University of San Carlos, University of Nueva Caceres, and University of Cebu made it to the top ten.

In 2006, Noel Neil Malimba from the University of the Cordilleras topped the often UP-ADMU dominated bar exams with 87.60 percent.

Map for students

Tuition in HEI provinces is generally lower than those in Manila, according to Tayag. Upcoming freshmen in engineering programs in Bulacan State University will pay P220 per unit, or P8,000 a semester. In SU, there has been no tuition increase for six years until 2007.

Tayag said that CHED plans to launch a system that can guide students and parents in school selection, especially since market information does not really reach the public.

This system is actually a school map. In this map, schools in each region will be identified with their corresponding accreditation level, tuition and programs offered. The school will also be specified if it is a COE or COD.

The map could be completed by the last week of April.

But for now, Tayag encourages students and parents to contact CHED offices in their respective regions and gather information on schools which would guide them in coming up with a final school list.

She stressed that information is a key in choosing the good schools. After all, quality education is a dream that could be realized right in one’s neighborhood.

Find more like this: Education


  1. […] its Web site, and persuaded a former dean-turned-grocery employee to pose as the headmaster. (more…) Philippines News : Read the rest of this article […]

  2. rex says:

    Thank you for featuring our school, HOLYNAME UNIVERSITY, the only level III PAASCU accredited school in Bohol and one of the few in the Visayas Region. We have produced several CPA topnotchers most notably ; Romualdo Murcia Jr. (1st place) October, 1997, Warren Yap Jr.(2nd place) May, 2005 and Susana B. Uy (5th place) 1983. There were also several topnotchers who made it from 6th to 20th places. Recently, we postedc 65.0% passing percentage much higher than the national passing average. We have also produced the first bar topnotcher outside Metro.Manila when Oscar B. Glovasa topped the 1969 bar examinations. Furthermore, we have several toptnotchers in Nursing, engineering, LET exams and even in Civil Service Examinations.

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