GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/04 Feb) — The Regional Development Council (RDC) has endorsed the proposed merger of the area’s four state-run colleges and universities (SUCs) into one university system in a bid to improve the quality of higher education in Region 12 (Southwestern Mindanao).
General Santos City Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio, RDC-12 chair, said they fully the e merger into a “regional university system” (RUS) as a strategy to further build up the local public education sector as a key component of the region’s development initiatives.
She said the new university system will comprise the University of Southern Mindanao (USM) in Kabacan, North Cotabato; Sultan Kudarat State University (SKSU) in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat; Cotabato Foundation College for Science and Technology (CFCST) in Arakan, North Cotabato; and, Cotabato City Polytechnic State College in Cotabato City.
Region 12, also referred to as Soccsksargen, comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
Aside from the four SUCs, Region 12 hosts an autonomous unit of the Mindanao State University system in this city while the University of the Philippines Manila-School of Health Sciences operates an extension campus in nearby Koronadal City.
In a resolution, the RDC said the proposed merger was anchored on the national government’s policy on higher education and the Commission on Higher Education’s (CHED) strategic plan that pointed the need for the restructuring of public higher education
institutions to improve the quality of higher education in the country.
It said the policy specifically set as a strategy the amalgamation of the SUCs and provided institutional arrangements for the implementation of a university system.
The resolution noted that the amalgamation of SUCs refers to the “union of two or more SUCs with the intention of forming one university system.”
The move requires member SUCs to undertake activities such as the “crafting of policy instruments to foster mutual recognition of academic programs leading to a system of inter-institutional credit of transfer units earned by the students; inter-institutional collaboration in areas of research, extension and production; faculty and staff training; and, resources and facilities sharing, toward the transition into regional university system,” it said.
Custodio said the concerned SUCs initially presented the proposed merger late last year to the RDC-12’s Regional Social Development Committee (RSDC).
She said the SUCs have drawn pre-amalgamation activities aimed at initiating institutional and program reforms as well as encouraging socio-political acceptability for the establishment of an RUS for Region 12.
The proponents sought an initial allocation of P2 million from CHED’s rationalization budget for the implementation of the proposed merger-related activities, the official said.
In collaboration with CHED-12 and the Department of Budget and Management Region 12, Custodio said the SUCs proposed for the creation of a project management team, formulation of a strategic plan, preparation of manual of operations, inventory of resources as well as
the conduct of institutional and program assessment and a series of orientations and consultations.
She said they pushed for the launching of advocacy campaigns to generate support from various stakeholders in the region. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)