Tuesday, February 15, 2011

New UP President Fred Pascual comments on UP's financial sustainability

New UP President Alfredo Pascual last Feb 10 took over the reins of the University of the Philippines in a simple ceremony in Quezon Hall.  Mr Pascual served until Feb 9, 2017.His speech is here. The theme of Mr Pascual's  speech focused on the never ending effort to raise the standards of the university, modernize its infrastructure, turn it into a competitive research university without compromising the university's reputation for teaching excellence.

However Mr Pascual, a chemistry graduate but development banker by profession, spilled out the necessary numbers. It is no secret that the salaries of professors are abysmally low and definitely uncompetitive. The same is true for the loyal staff which are even more disadvantaged.

The numbers include that to make the salaries really competitive (professors on average should get 100,000 pesos a month from the measly 25,000 or so at present), the UP should have an endowment of at least 8 billion pesos (that is about 181 million US dollars at present exchange rates). Or the university has to get at least half a billion in extra revenue.

Mr Pascual should be credited for defining on what terms UP's financial sustainability should be based on. He differentiates from commercialization of assets from commercialization of education. He is in favour of the former but not on the latter. He says he won't agree to an increase in fees, but will continue to lobby for government's sustained financial commitment to UP over and above what it gets now.

His mantra appears to be to "change mindsets". How this is to be achieved in a university with eclectic views need to be seen. Mr Pascual's success or failure in his program of governance will be measured on this alone.

His cabinet of vice presidents which includes two of my former professors are known to be familiar with how a 21st century financially viable educational operates. In this way, even if Mr Pascual does not know them personally, he is assured they share in his vision of how UP can become financially sustainable.

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