A roadmap is in the works to guide the country in attaining the goal of becoming a global educational hub generating $1 billion in yearly revenues.
The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) and colleges and universities are working to craft the “Education Services Sector Export Roadmap.”
This will serve to attract foreign students to study in the Philippines by improving the global competitiveness local higher education institutions (HEIs).
Earlier this month, the PCCI consulted the heads of HEIs to gather information and identify areas of improvement.
For the Philippines to move ahead as a higher education hub, initial reforms such as lifting regulatory and legal impediments that discourage many foreign students from enrolling here should be done right away, PCCI President George T. Barcelon said.
Barcelon said the country is as attractive and capable as global and regional destinations like Malaysia and Singapore, but legal restrictions should be abolished, if not revised or amended.
Through its Human Resources Development Foundation (PCCI-HRDF), the PCCI organized consultations to kickstart the creation of a roadmap.
A technical working group will be formed by the PCCI-HRDF, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (Ched), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda), and higher education institutions to jointly draw the roadmap.
Christopher Stevens, a senior researcher at ODI London, was commissioned by the PCCI-HRDF to present a study on the trends in local HEIs and foreign students called “Towards a Philippine Education Service Sector Export Roadmap.”
The roadmap will summarize the export development strategy and detail the goals, challenges and actions required for government, educators, and business to enhance Philippine competitiveness as a global provider of higher education.
Barcelon noted the factors considered by foreign students include English instructions, qualifications recognized in their desired countries after getting a diploma, quality faculties and facilities, and low cost of living.
Among the initial reforms required are easing of immigration rules, which was cited by representatives of major universities and colleges during consultations.
Because most foreign students want to take up medicine, engineering, accountancy and other long-term degree courses, duration of visas for college- or graduate-degree courses should be as long as normally needed to graduate.
HEI representatives also said it takes several months before Ched and the Bureau of Immigration and the DFA could complete the process of verifying documents filed by foreign students for visa applications.
Another issue raised by stakeholders was conflict with the ownership provisions of the Constitution, which limit foreigner ownership to 40 percent.
The HEIs want autonomy to design their courses after complying with the minimum requirements of Ched.
They also sought Ched support for online education programs.