education in the Philippines

CHED urged to probe ‘degree for sale’ scheme in Cagayan

Bonz Magsambol

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CHED urged to probe ‘degree for sale’ scheme in Cagayan

CHED CHIEF. This file photo shows Commission on Higher Education's Prospero de Vera III.


(1st UPDATE) 'We need to ensure that this is not a smokescreen for more questionable Chinese citizens to enter the country, such as workers in illegal POGO operations,' says Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva

MANILA, Philippines – Senators Sherwin Gatchalian and Joel Villanueva on Thursday, April 18, urged the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to probe a”degree for sale” scheme in Cagayan province, where Chinese students allegedly paid up to P2 million to get a degree.

“I strongly urge the Commission on Higher Education to promptly investigate reports of foreign students in Cagayan allegedly paying up to P2 million for degrees,” said Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate committee on basic education.

He said that while he supported the internationalization of education in the country, Gatchalian opposed any practice “allowing the proliferation of diploma mills in our country.”

“CHED must impose appropriate penalties or sanctions on HEIs (higher education institutions) and their officials who condone such practices,” he said.

Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva also made the same call. He said that the issue does “not only diminish the integrity of our education system but might also have implications on our national security.”

Apart from CHED, Villanueva also urged the National Security Council to look into the matter.

“We need to ensure that this is not a smokescreen for more questionable Chinese citizens to enter the country, such as workers in illegal POGO operations,” said Villanueva.

The alleged scheme was first revealed by University of the Philippines professor Chester Cabalza. He claimed that students are not attending classes, citing local reports of Cagayan residents. “I hope that it’s not going to be a milking cow or diploma mill of this government,” he said in an ANC interview on Thursday.

CHED to support probe

Meantime, in a statement on Thursday, CHED chairman Prospero de Vera said there is a “significant number” of Chinese students enrolled in Saint Paul University Philippines (SPUP) in Tuguegarao City. 

He said CHED “has not received complaints” on the school’s acceptance of foreign students. In the event it does, De Vera said CHED it will forward the complaints to the Inter-Agency Committee on Foreign Students (IACFS) for “appropriate action.” 

In 2002, CHED granted SPUP autonomous university status, and the school has also been authorized by the Bureau of Immigration to accept foreign students. 

On the security risks allegedly posed by these students, De Vera said “CHED will leave the matter to the expertise of our security agencies to investigate and recommend appropriate actions,” and will participate in any congressional probes.

The CHED, he added, will “continue to support the internationalization of Philippine higher education to produce world class professionals.”

De Vera said “there is a significant number of students from India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Thailand, Nepal, Korea, and other countries in Philippine schools.” 

Among the reasons these students choose the Philippines are the affordable cost of quality education, and the use of English as a medium of instruction. 

De Vera said the Philippines has a “globally recognized quality of instruction in such fields as medicine, dentistry, optometry, physical therapy, public health, and engineering.” –

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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler.