UP climbs in Asian QS rankings while calls to ‘end semester’ endures

November 26, 2020 - 2:06 PM
UP End the Sem Protest
Members of the University of the Philippines community protest for the end of semester and to demand accountability from the Duterte administration amid its response to recent natural calamities in this photo uploaded on Facebook on Nov. 17, 2020. (Photo from UP Office of the Student Regent via Facebook)

As the country’s premier state university entered the Top 100 of this year’s Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) Asian university rankings, calls to end the current semester due to the supposed ineffectiveness of the remote learning system prevailed online.

The University of the Philippines was the sole higher educational institution in the country that saw an increase in its ranking from 72th place in 2020 to 69th place in 2021, three spots higher than its previous position.

This places UP at the 396th spot in the world university rankings, still by QS, compared to its 356th spot last year, according to reports.

Other universities from the country that entered the list—yet decreased their rankings—are Ateneo de Manila University (from 124th spot in 2020 to 135th spot in 2021), De La Salle University (156th spot in 2020 to 166th spot in 2021) and the University of Santo Tomas (from 179th spot in 2020 to 186th spot in 2021).

It also includes the University of San Carlos in Cebu (451th – 500th), Ateneo de Davao, Mapua University and Siliman University in Dumaguete (501st – 550th) and Mindanao State University—Iligan Institute of Technology (551st – 600th).

QS rankings are based on the university’s academic reputation (30%), employer reputation (20%), faculty-to-student ratio (10%), international research network (10%), inbound (2.5%) and outbound (2.5%) exchange, international faculty (2.5%) and students (2.5%).

It also considers faculty members with doctorate degrees (5%), papers per faculty (5%) and citations per paper (10%).

Calls to ‘#EndTheSemUP’ 

While being the sole Philippine university that notched higher in the chart, some members of the university community clamored for the institution to acknowledge calls to end the semester in light of the recent typhoons and the raging coronavirus pandemic.

“Proud ka diyan, UP? You worship numbers too much. Please don’t also reduce your students to mere numbers. Our cries are real and human. #EndTheSemUP,” a Twitter user wrote in response to UP’s post on the microblogging platform.

“UP has placed 1st among the top trending topics in Twitter for completely ignoring the calls of more than 15,000 students to end the semester now. #EndTheSemUP #PassAllUP #WalangIwananUP #UPStrikesBack,” quipped another online user.

“Uy ok lang ‘yan UP, most inconsiderate ka naman. #EndTheSemUP,” a different Twitter user responded to UP’s post.

The UP Office of the Student Regent (UP OSR), the sole representative of students on the university’s Board of Regents, also commented about the rankings following news reports.

“World rankings do not automatically reflect the reality our university is facing. Our pleas are yet to be answered. Students are being left behind. It’s about time we are heard. Honor and excellence must have compassion and solidarity. We are more than numbers,” its Twitter account posted.

It has earned 2,400 likes and more than 600 retweets or shares on the platform as of this writing.

UP OSR said that as of Wednesday, more than 15,000 individuals have already signed online petitions calling for the school administration to end the semester and mass promote students following supposed unequal access to remote learning and effects brought by recent typhoons over the country.

“Last July 21, it was reported that more than 5,600 UP students would not be able to afford the kind of learning demanded by the New Normal. Despite the said numbers being put to light coupled with the back-to-back campaigns of the UP Community to postpone the start of the classes, the UP admin hastily pushed through with the opening of classes last September 10,” a petition from UP Diliman reads.

“Remote learning only intensified the existing preconditions, such as mental health issues and financial problems caused by dealing with the pandemic alone. These conditions only continued to escalate as natural calamities occurred,” it added.

“Due to the onslaught of consecutive typhoons, more members of the UP community suffer from further inaccessibility to resources such as internet connectivity and learning devices, with some students being gravely affected by the disaster,” the petition further reads.

Records show that the country was ravaged by what is considered as the three most powerful tropical cyclones at landfall in history, including Super Typhoon Rolly.

Typhoon Ulysses this month also displaced lots of communities in Metro Manila and other surrounding regions due to its heavy rainfall and devastating winds.

The online petition addressed to the UP administration shared four main proposals to ease the burden felt by the community due to the remote learning system, aggravated by the recent natural calamities.

These include “providing various accessible alternative learning channels” and “making the necessary corresponding curriculum, syllabus, and academic calendar adjustments for the succeeding semesters to ensure that quality/adequate education” will be given to students.

As of Thursday morning, UP OSR announced that UP will “implement a no-fail policy this semester,” addressing concerns by the community to implement a “pass or DRP system” instead of the numerical grade system.

But the university will proceed with the semester as scheduled, which earned fresh condemnation from the student body representative.