CHED urges public universities to start classes in August

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) urged all public universities and colleges to move their opening of classes to August starting school year 2019 to 2020.

In a CHED memorandum issued April 5 and released to media Monday, April 15, CHED Chairman Prospero de Vera III said the shift would ensure that schools' academic calendars are aligned with the fiscal year.

"All state universities and colleges (SUCs) and local universities and colleges (LUCs) are enjoined to synchronize its respective academic year to a fiscal year starting fiscal year (FY) 2019," De Vera said in the memo.

As it stands, some SUCs and LUCs have their opening of classes usually scheduled in June or July.

Why align the school year with the fiscal year? De Vera said this will facilitate the easier processing of schools' budgets as the government shifts to cash-based budgeting.

Aside from this, De Vera told Rappler the shift will also "foster internationalization and linkages with top Philippine universities that already shifted their calendar." Public universities which already open their school year in August include the University of the Philippines.

CHED earlier proposed the change in the opening of classes after noting the commission may have difficulty with the shift to cash-based budgeting as the fiscal year and academic year are not aligned.

During CHED's budget hearing at the House of Representatives in 2018, De Vera said cash-based budgeting would "severely hamper" the implementation of the free higher education law.

He said validation processes and paperwork make it difficult for CHED to reimburse all schools by the end of the year, as some schools that open classes in June or July would start their second semester in November.

Having schools open in August, then, would address this issue as reimbursements to schools for the first semester of the academic year may be done by the end of the year. Similarly, budget allocations and reimbursements for the second semester can be done in January during the start of a new fiscal year.

Meanwhile, De Vera said the August opening of classes is only a recommendation and not a requirement for schools.

In a GMA News online report, De Vera said CHED does not have the power to require schools to make the change as it is up to their Board of Regents. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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