Following on from EduTECH events in Australia and Singapore, EduTECH Philippines 2017 was the first annual conference and exhibition to be held in Manila. The focus of many of the discussion sessions was on the improving Filipino education within the ASEAN context.
Professor Perry Hobson, Pro Vice-Chancellor of Global Engagement at Taylor’s University was recently invited to Chair a plenary panel session on Retaining and attracting leading minds in a competitive global education market at the EduTECH 2017 conference in Manila. Following on from EduTECH conference and convention events in Australia and Singapore, this was the first annual event to the held in The Philippines. The invited panelists included Brother Raymundo B Suplido, the President of De La Salle University, Dr Catherine Q Castaneda, the Vice-President of Adamson University and Ma Lourdes N. Cura (better known as ‘Malu’), who is the Principal of the Everest Academy. In The Philippines there are currently some 2,300 registered higher education providers - of which about 1,600 are private universities and colleges, and around 600 are public institutions. However, only 59 out of the 1,600 private institutions have been recognised of sufficient quality by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to become autonomous/self-accrediting. The initial focus of this panel looked at the importance of retaining Filipino talent in the country. As Malu pointed out, “about 11 million people out of population of about 102 million live and work overseas”. It is not only low-skilled workers leaving the country, but also well-qualified teachers, engineers, nurses and doctors. Clearly the challenge now is how to retain the best and brightest in the country given that the economy is growing at around 6-7% a year. Brother Raymundo said that “we need to woo our people to stay, rather than encourage them to head overseas”. Second, the panel then considered the related challenge of how to attract foreign talent to The Philippines to help raise the standards of quality in the education sector. Dr Catherine pointed out that “we need to do more exchange of staff between The Philippines and other countries, but we need funding help from the government to bridge the gap between foreign salaries and those paid in The Philippines”. Brother Raymundo also made the point that more could be done with student exchanges, “but that we have to recognise that we don’t have institutions of the standing of Stanford, INSEAD and MIT here and so we have to accept that some outstanding students will leave the country”. The panel also considered whether bringing in globally recognised tertiary brands was a good idea as a way of improving the quality of education. Malu pointed out that, “global education brands are well known and more would come – but her current challenge was getting Filipino institutions to recognise her students international high-school qualifications”. Clearly access to higher education is not the problem in the Philippines, but rather the issues relate to quality and finding ways to improve that quality. Prof Perry Hobson thanked the panel for their insights, and concluded the panel by remarking that, “a key challenge facing ASEAN’s fastest growing economy is going to be about ‘talent management’ of the future workforce in a globalised economy” - Global Matters