University of the Philippines

UP’s international faculty denounce ‘unequal, inhuman treatment’

Lilibeth Frondoso

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

UP’s international faculty denounce ‘unequal, inhuman treatment’

PREMIER STATE UNIVERSITY. The main building of the University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City

Patrick Roque via Wikimedia Commons

In an open letter to UP Diliman Chancellor Edgardo Carlo Vistan II, several international faculty members allege that their exclusion was 'endorsed purely on the basis of nationality' hinting at another dimension of the alleged maltreatment: racial discrimination

MANILA, Philippines – Four foreign faculty members of the University of the Philippines – Diliman wrote an open letter to UP Diliman Chancellor Edgardo Carlo Vistan II on Thursday, May 30, denouncing what they described as the “alarming” treatment of international faculty since 2019.

The faculty members said they are protesting the “exclusion of international faculty from certain, if not all, benefits and privileges allotted to regular faculty.”

The signatories to the letter also alleged that their exclusion was “endorsed purely on the basis of nationality,” hinting at another dimension of the alleged maltreatment: racial discrimination.

The foreign faculty traced the mess to the “indiscriminate application” of 2019 Memorandum No. OVCAA-ECA 18-091 to all international faculty. They said the memo was originally designed for faculty working for another university in their home country and visiting UP Diliman temporarily.

UP Diliman used this justification to dissolve the employer-employee relationship between itself and all international faculty.

Of the signatories, at least three have no ties to a mother university outside the Philippines and are direct hires.

INTERNATIONAL FACULTY. 3 of the signatories to an open letter to UP Chancellor Edgardo Carlo Vistan II. Left to right: Lisa Goddard-Paz, Kimberly Plomb, and Kyungmin Bae.

The signatories are:

  • Kimberly A. Plomp, associate professor UP School of Archaeology and head of the UPSA Human Osteoarcheology Laboratory
  • Lisa Elena Goddard-Paz, assistant professorial fellow, Department of Art Studies, College of Arts and Letters
  • Juan C. Rofes, associate professor UP School of Archaeology and head of the UPSA Zooarchaeology Laboratory, member of the UP UC Committee of Faculty Development and Welfare, and member of the UPSA Academic Personnel Committee
  • Kyungmin Bae, assistant professorial fellow, Department of Linguistics, College of Social Sciences and Philosophy
Self-inflicted harm

The educators highlighted four points:

  1. UP Diliman has made decisions concerning international faculty that lack transparency, accountability, and good organizational management.
  2. UP Diliman has left international faculty to cope with serious, even life-threatening, illness, with little or no medical support.
  3. UP Diliman has denied international faculty vacation leave.
  4. UP Diliman has prohibited international faculty from being the main adviser of students.

The international faculty said continuing this treatment of any UP faculty member, regardless of nationality, “will only harm UP, its international and national reputation.”

Rappler had a conversation with the four signatories and four other foreign faculty in December 2023.

Some said that, at the rate things were going, no international faculty would want to work for UP. This, at a time when the number of foreign faculty and students have become an important worldwide metric for internationalization – a mark of global diversity and expertise in universities.

UP, which ranks 404th in the QS World University rankings in 2024, scores an extremely low 1.6 in International Faculty Ratio., a 1.1 in International Students Ratio, and 9.3 in International Research Network.

New deal

In their conversation with Rappler, the foreign faculty complained about the university’s unprofessional practice of not notifying them of changes in their employment status through the proper channels.

Some got phone calls via the department phone line, while some had not been notified at all. Calling it “sneaky,” some of the faculty only realized that their bonuses had been withheld because cash transfers had not come into their accounts. (The issue of the bonuses was later resolved after a flurry of complaints.)

In the letter to Vistan, the faculty said they had “finally reached the end of our tether and our trust in this university.”

They demanded that the unequal treatment be “finally rectified, and the continuing discrimination and disinformation used against international faculty replaced with a feasible and equitable new deal.”

Rappler has reached out to Vistan. In a text message on Friday, May 31, he replied, “I haven’t read the open letter, but we have been working on some work issues involving international faculty with the same group since late last year.” He has not replied since.

Like we don’t belong

Plomp, an osteoarcheology professor, detailed the impact of the dissolution of the employer-employee relationship with UP.

She said that, aside from the pay downgrade, “I am no longer eligible for a work visa, it was denied because I don’t have an employee-employer relationship, so Immigration says I am an exchange faculty, which I’m not. So they wanted proof of an MOA with the university, which I don’t have. I’ve had to miss doing a specialized workshop in Bangkok, not be able to go home to Canada for the holidays, and I’m missing work collaborations and presentations.”

“We just want to be treated like regular faculty, just regular benefits, regular bonuses, contract renewals, up for promotion at regular intervals,” she said.

Most of the faculty Rappler talked to said they are in UP because they love the Philippines and had built relationships in the country.

Goddard-Paz, an assistant professorial fellow in the College of Arts and Letters who is married to another UP professor, said that the material loss does not compare to the mental anguish of losing trust in the university she had come to consider her home.

Plomb also noted: “We’re treated like we’re not part of the community, regardless of our achievements. It makes you feel unwelcome and unappreciated, like you don’t belong. It’s really sad.” –

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

Summarize this article with AI

How does this make you feel?

Download the Rappler App!
Avatar photo


Lilibeth Frondoso

She currently heads Multimedia Strategy and Growth in Rappler.