It was indeed a time for celebration. Ateneo would always look extra sharper, cleaner, newer and brighter when it’s PAASCUhan. We’d always be glad to see the walls coated more vividly, or the central conditioning cleaned, or the elevators levelled-up. Who wouldn’t want a friendly reminder of the emergency exits and safety precautions on the walls or new equipment in the laboratories? Who would want to miss the most anticipated visit every few years?
The Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (PAASCU) visits are something to look forward to and we’ve had our share of the excitement last March 4-5 and 7-8.
The reason of the hustle
It was more than a visit. It was an accreditation process for whatever level that is necessary for a school. During those times, an external quality review was conducted for quality assurance and quality improvement.
Covered in the review was the instruction, which includes the classroom activities, instructions, pedagogies, course outline development and anything that is related to the delivery of instruction whether it be inside or outside the classroom (on-the-job training). The Faculty was also an integral part of the accreditation process, which includes the qualification processes and its development. The University Administration qualifications, manuals, structures and relationships with the rest of the Ateneo community were also taken into consideration.
The laboratories, community engagement, and the Physical Plant, which oversees everything that you see from the infrastructure, facilities, and open areas to the classrooms, also had had their fair share of meticulous attention from the visitors. Part and parcel of all these elements was the research procedure conducted in the university that ties all these developments and improvements together.
How the hustle bustled
The process was tedious and intricate as expected. The university – its students, faculty, staff and even administration – had undergone an Institutional Self-survey. Through this evaluation process, the accreditors were able to see how the university functions in the eyes of the respondents.
What followed was the visitation. Having undergone visits in the past years, including the preliminaries, the School of Arts and Sciences, School of Education, Business and Management, Accountancy and Social Work had gone through the formal visits. During this juncture, PAASCU would validate what the university have provided in the self-survey and presented manuals or reports. They also checked how their recommendations from the previous PAASCU visit five years ago were met.
With all the necessary checks in place, PAASCU would find other areas for improvement.
Mr. Rikki Enriquez, the head of the team responsible for the necessary preparations and accommodations for the PAASCU visit, stressed that the standards with which PAASCU moves isn’t benchmarking at all.
“[That means] that if I am an accreditor coming from La Salle, I don’t benchmark Ateneo to La Salle,” he emphasized, adding that, “They always look at what is necessary for the educational institution to improve according to the Vision, Mission and Goal of the particular school or university.”
PAASCU also base their recommendations on a criterion of survey indicators.
The hustle went well
When all is said and done, one would ultimately come to the question: Are we doing well?
“Yes, I believe we are doing well,” Sir Rikki says, very much convinced.
Drawing words and sentences from a report that PAASCU itself has compiled for the university, he stated, “The PAASCU acknowledges the considerable time spent and effort exerted by the university in the coming up with the self-survey reports. The exhibits that we have given are extensive in scope and the additional data were always given and available at the offices concerned.”
The university’s ability of proper and effective documentation was commended.
However, the self-survey ratings were too high in all areas, giving the impression that there is little to improve, if at all, in some areas. “Even though we overrated our school, PAASCU didn’t,” Sir Rikki added, “We pass with a Level 3 Accreditation!”
The School of Arts and Sciences, School of Education, Business and Accountancy and Social Work were accredited for a period of 5 years. Civil, Chemical, Mechanical and Electrical Engineering were also given the same accreditation.
However, the reaccreditation of Industrial Engineering was put on hold due to lack of proper degrees both in faculty members and the department chair. As soon the proper documents are submitted to the Commission of Tertiary Education (CHED) proving the catering of the recommendations and improvements, Industrial Engineering will immediately gain reaccreditation. Sir Rikki estimates the processing will just last a year.
The Computer Engineering and Electronics Communication Engineering programs, having successfully gone through the preliminary visit this year, will now be able to undergo a consultancy visit in all areas from PAASCU in a year after they have submitted all pertinent documents.
The Information Technology and Information system were granted initial accreditation for a period of three years.
The construction of the new buildings catered to the recommendations and suggestions for a wider space for offices and extra-curricular activities. An Internal Quality Assurance Office was also recommended to coordinate with all university units in its operations.
The hustle continues
Most goals point at 2018. By then, all recommendations must be given action, polished and ready for yet another PAASCU visitation.
“[Meaning to say,] we do what we have to do so that we can say that we provide and improve quality service to our beneficiaries, who are our students,” Sir Rikki said, “That’s really the reason why there’s really preparation during PAASCU, and the preparations you see hadn’t been formulated in just a months or weeks. If you were given reaccreditation for 5 years, then you are given 5 years’ time to act upon the recommendations. No excuses.”
Indeed, PAASCU is a years-long effort condensed into a span of around two weeks and goes on for the improvement of Atenean quality education.