ADNU okays shift in academic calendar

NAGA CITY -- The Board of Trustees of Ateneo de Naga University formally approved a proposed shift in the academic calendar of our higher education units (i.e., all the Colleges [except for the College of Law] and the Graduate School) for school year 2019-2020 and beyond.

In its regular meeting on 16 February 2019, the following changes were discussed: (1) Regular First Semester starts 1 July 2019 and ends 16 November 2019; (2) Regular Second Semester starts 5 December 2019 and ends 28 April 2020; (3) Regular Intersession (previously called “Summer Classes”) starts on 18 May 2020 and ends 30 June 2020; and (4) School Year 2020-2021 will then start in August 2020 (the exact date is still to be determined).

University President Fr. Roberto E.N. Rivera, S.J. explained that last December 2018, in a meeting at the Philippine Senate, the Presidents of the nine member schools of the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges of Region 5 (PASUC 5) adopted a resolution stating that their respective institutions will adopt an August start for their academic year, beginning in school year 2019-2020.

"The private higher education institutions (HEIs) in Bicol were not formally informed of this decision until the meeting of the Bicol Foundation for Higher Education on 10 January 2019," Rivera said.

"In this meeting, there was a very heated exchange between the representatives of the private and public schools. An August start for the school year is decidedly disadvantageous to private institutions that will maintain a June start. Many students will most likely wait until August to ensure they have a slot in the public HEIs (and thus, free tuition) before considering options in private HEIs."

"In response to these developments, the private HEIs of Bicol convened as the Bicol Association of Private Colleges and Universities (BAPCU) last 31 January 2019. To counter the unilateral move made by PASUC 5, the Presidents of the BAPCU member schools (including Ateneo de Naga) agreed on a simultaneous 1 July 2019 start for the school year, pending the approval of our respective school boards. The rationale for this decision is two-fold. First, it will mitigate the transition costs and cash flow problems involved in the delay of the start of classes (one month of no higher education income for a July start, as opposed to two months with an August start). Second, it will prompt students who have not been accepted into public HEIs to quickly choose a private HEI option, since all the private HEIs in Bicol will begin at the same time," he explained.

Further, he said: "To shift the academic calendar for our higher education units at such short notice is obviously far from ideal. Neither the Commission on Higher Education nor the PASUC national leadership has mandated such a change. However, the unilateral decision made by PASUC 5 leaves the private HEIs of BAPCU with little choice. We must begin the transition to an August start for the first regular term. Otherwise our higher education enrollment—already diminished because of the K-12 transition and the free college tuition act [RA 10931])—might be further jeopardized."

Rivera added that the Office of the Vice President for Higher Education will convene our faculty soon to discuss the repercussions of this calendar change.

"We shall exert all efforts to ensure that the financial and logistical constraints brought about by the change, while unavoidable, are anticipated with proper planning, to ensure a smooth transition. One option on the table is to extend the April-May 2019 summer classes, allowing students and teachers to take more units, in order to ease the financial burden of the upcoming lean months."

"I enjoin everyone towards greater patience and generosity as we confront this latest challenge as one united community," he concluded.