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Senate panel OKs bill designating PUP as National Polytechnic University

The Senate education, arts, and culture committee has approved a bill seeking to officially designate the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), the country’s largest state university by student population, as the National Polytechnic University.

In approving Senate Bill 2037, Senator Francis Escudero, who chairs the panel, asked PUP to provide data "on the road map on declaring national universities by way of utilizing the best practices adopted by other countries."

Escudero was asking about the difference between a National University status, which has been given to the University of the Philippines and Mindanao State University, and National Polytechnic University status being asked by PUP.

During the hearing Wednesday, PUP President Emmanuel de Guzman said being designated as the National Polytechnic University would allow PUP to have institutional and fiscal autonomy, similar to what UP enjoys.

"It will allow us to create our own academic program in consultation with CHED (Commission on Higher Education)," De Guzman told the committee. "This will give us more freedom to improve our program. We have done some much and we can do more with the National Polytechnic status."

Under Senate Bill 2037, PUP shall exclusively determine its teaching research and extension thrusts, plans, policies, programs and standards. On the basis of such determination, the university shall recommend its annual budget to the President and Congress.

It also seeks to strengthen the PUP as an institution and solidify its position as one of the country's premier state universities.

"It is high time that we strengthen the PUP and officially designate it as the 'National Polytechnic University,’ which will cater to educating and developing the country’s future industry leaders," said Senator Juan Edgardo Angara, the bill's author.

Angara said the government should equip PUP to enable it to better fulfill its mandate of providing technical and professional instruction, training students in the applied arts and sciences.

"In doing so, the PUP will be able to propagate more widely the ideals for which its core values are based—social justice, peace, freedom, academic excellence, ethical and moral standards, cultural identity, and respect for diversity, civil society engagement, and passion for learning," he said.

"The PUP has stood out, being among the first in the country to emphasize hands-on, skills-based education that respond to market demands and societal needs,” he added.

Aside from pioneering two-year associate's degrees that bring students faster and closer to gainful employment, the PUP piloted ladderized technical courses, which the national government is currently working to ramp up across the country with the recent passage of the Philippine Qualifications Framework, the senator said.

He added that PUP has performed consistently well, producing topnotchers in the various licensure exams such as in engineering, architecture, and information technology.

"On top of this, the results of annual surveys conducted by show that employers in the Philippines consider graduates of PUP as their top choice for employment—underscoring that a PUP education is competitive and relevant to society’s needs,” he further said.

Founded in 1904, the PUP has more than 20 campuses serving more than 70,000 students, making it the largest state university in the Philippines in terms of student population. Its main campus is located in Sta. Mesa, Manila.

Prior to the enactment of law providing free higher education in public colleges and universities, the PUP is considered the state university that offers low tuition but still provides high quality education, said Angara.

With the committee approval, Escudero has to sponsor the bill to the plenary for deliberation.

Once senators are done with interpellations and amendments, they will vote for its approval for second reading and wait for three days for the third and final reading approval. A similar process will be done in the House of Representatives.

The bicameral conference committee will then be convened to reconcile the disagreeing provisions before it will be returned to the plenary for ratification.

Once ratified, the bill will be sent to the President for either his approval or veto.  —KBK, GMA News