Sources : The Pie News

The Philippines’ Commission on Higher Education has used the recent ASEAN Summit to forge ahead with its ambitions to increase higher education recognition across the region and bolster the country’s global education partnerships.

The summit, held earlier this month in Pasay within the country’s capital region, saw a Memorandum of Understanding with Russia finalised to increase academic exchange, while a Memorandum of Cooperation was signed to begin the process of qualification recognition with New Zealand.

“After more than a decade of negotiations, cooperation in higher education between the Philippines and Russia has been reached,” CHED Spokesman J. Prospero De Vera III said.

“While internationalisation of Philippine higher education has grown stronger in recent years, the country’s engagement with the Russian Federation on higher education has paled in comparison to the other western counterparts,” he continued, pointing to the cessation of formal talks in 2004.

With the MOU signed, seven key points, including the promotion of cooperation across institutions, sharing of information on each country’s higher education systems, and the facilitation of mutual qualification recognition, will be pursued.

Both the Russian and New Zealand agreements see a continuation of the Philippines’ aspirations to increase the flow of its citizens around the world, after an Executive Order in 2012 directed CHED to begin linking the Philippine Qualifications Framework to the ASEAN Qualifications Reference Framework.

During an ASEAN conference in July, which sought to orient the qualification translation process across members, CHED chairperson Patricia Licuanan pressed the need for robust qualifications recognition.

“When people begin to move freely for various reasons and especially for study or employment, comparability of qualifications becomes paramount. Comparability of qualifications… presume trust in the quality of the qualifications that are being compared,” she said.

While undertaking this process had obvious advantages for Filipinos intending on going overseas, Licuanan also argued that increasing the Philippines’ links with international higher education systems would be of significant benefit to local students.

“At the end of the day, developing and further refining our qualifications system will compel us to mobilise stakeholders. Such review can only redound to reforms that aim to fill many gaps and, in the process, continuously transform our education system and the world of work.”

The Philippines is not alone as it looks to increase its global connections, with New Zealand also aiming to raise its qualification recognition arrangements to at least 50 countries by 2020.

The MOC, which agrees to pursue qualification recognition between the two countries and improve bi-lateral understanding and confidence, has been welcomed in New Zealand.

“We live in a world where people are increasingly mobile,” UNZ executive director Chris Whelan said.

“Students may be looking to study overseas and they want to know that any qualification they complete will be recognised and understood back home.”

Whelan told The PIE News that qualification recognition was also becoming increasingly more important as international students look for employment.

“This arrangement… will make it easier for the citizens of the Philippines and New Zealand to study and work in each other’s countries and, in time, will build the people to people relationships and mutual links between both nations that eventually foster trade and other forms of mutually beneficial cooperation.”

Further bolstering the MOC, Philippine Airlines also announced they would commence direct flights to New Zealand in December.

The ASEAN deals are another milestone in a big year for the Philippines, after ten of its universities were selected to participate in transnational education partnerships with the UK in April.

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