Expanded academic offerings for accessible UP education
Expanded academic offerings for accessible UP education
by Jessa Jael S. Arana

As UPLB strives to make UP education more accessible to more Filipinos, it is capacitating its academic units, building supporting infrastructure, and expanding its program offerings. In the past three years, the UP Board of Regents approved several program proposals from UPLB, giving Filipinos more opportunities to pursue higher education at UP.

There is a growing need for higher education institutions in the country to expand their capacity for training and instruction as the country continues to pursue economic development amidst rapid digital technology turnover, globalization, and on-going recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. UPLB has responded to this need by developing new programs based on the requirements and recommendations of industry leaders, alumni, and prospective students.

UPLB utilized its growing expertise among its faculty and researchers to create these programs, which aim to supplement the need for more professionals in key industries.

The most recent and significant of these developments is the opening of microcredential programs at UPLB, following the global trends in universities across the world. Microcredentials can make specific skills more accessible to professionals and address needs in the workforce.

UPLB now has 30 microcredential courses housed under different colleges. These programs focus on teaching practical skills and competencies in synchronous and asynchronous sessions. Learners may earn their certification for a microcredential after completing a set number of modules.

The new bachelor’s degree programs in mechanical and materials engineering are envisioned to make engineering more comprehensive at UPLB, enabling it to train more engineering professionals and address the increasing demands in the industry.

UPLB has also expanded its graduate programs to help professionals acquire specialized and expanded knowledge that can help them in their careers. This is in line with the University’s mission to increase the number of experts and scholars who can contribute to national development.

Notably, UPLB instituted several PhD by Research programs that focus on dissertations instead of coursework, allowing professionals to pursue a degree program while undertaking research and development projects, thereby contributing to their field’s body of knowledge.

Dr. Jomar F. Rabajante, dean of the Graduate School, said that UPLB’s PhD by Research programs are designed for those with sufficient research and technical background and will not need extensive coursework.

Many of these PhD by Research programs are the first of their kind in the country.

The University has also ventured into creating associate degree programs that only take about two years to finish. These programs can equip senior high school graduates with the basic knowledge and skills they need to seek out employment opportunities or continue into a bachelor’s degree. It will also enable them to build up their education at their own pace.

According to Dr. Benjamina Paula G. Flor, a UP Scientist and a faculty member at the College of Development Communication and the developer of the Associate of Science in Development Communication (ASDC) program, associate programs offer a chance to those who could not pursue higher education studies right after high school.

She said that while these programs do not require passing the UP College Admission Test (UPCAT), these still have other requirements that will ensure that its takers can proceed to higher education and are ready for employment.

“Late bloomers may take this opportunity to fulfill their dreams of getting to university despite the hindrances and challenges faced before then,” she said. Associate programs can also help completers of the Alternative Learning System and those who want to professionalize their work experience through formal education.

With these efforts to expand UPLB’s fields and levels of instruction, UPLB can contribute more to increasing the country’s professional workforce who are equipped to take on the rapidly changing needs of local and global industries.

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