Sunday, August 28, 2011

ASU hosts Visayas-wide forum on SUCs-private sector partnerships

By Sally R. Villasis

With reports from Rhea V. Martesano

The Aklan State University (ASU) hosted the Forum on SUCs (State Universities and Colleges)-Private Partnership on Education Economic Zones on August 17–19, 2011 at the ASU Review Center in Banga, Aklan.

The first in a series of four, the forum convened presidents, vice-presidents for academic affairs, vice-presidents for research and extension, vice-presidents for production and business of the SUCs and industry representatives from the three regions 6, 7 and 8, all of Visayas.

Led by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC), the said forum sought to provide venue for sharing the best practices on SUCs-Private Partnership and exploring potential partnerships with the private sector.

In his keynote address, Mr. Oscar A. Torralba, chair of the agri-business countryside development committee of the Management Association of the Philippines and CHED’s Technical Panel for Business and Management, presented the salient points of the Economic Education Zones (EEZ) as a Platform for Government-Industry-Academe (GIA) Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) among SUCs.

According to Torralba, SUCs today face intense competition for opportunities and priorities in fiscal allocation with threats of budget deficits and increasing demands by the globalized market. Therefore, it is imperative for SUCs to employ “innovative approaches in facing these harsh realities.” It was in this vein that EEZ was conceptualized.

EEZ is designed to transform an SUC from being traditional, budget-based and grant-driven into an enterprising institution which effectively exploits its natural resource endowments. Under the same approach, SUCs are encouraged to engage in the commercial application of their research and knowledge base and the strong participation of the private sector for long-term cooperation.

For her part, Dr. Virginia Resurreccion, director of CHED’s Regional Office 6, stressed on the importance of raising the country’s human capital to help address the global issue on poverty. For Resurreccion, there is a need for a curriculum that offers quality education and training of students who can compete in the global market and whose skills and expertise can match the emerging trends in the industry.

While these can be hindered by lack of economic resources or similar financial constraints, public and private partnerships can provide key mechanisms for flexibility and accommodate growth in SUCs. For one, newly conceptualized SUC curriculums could help create jobs and help spur economic growth.

According to Resurreccion, partnerships that can be forged between SUCs and private sectors can inspire SUCs themselves to focus on research, training and development. All these efforts can provide inexpensive offshoots to the growth of knowledge economy. Furthermore, partnering with the private sector can help address the need for financial support for SUCs’ R&D activities.

The Visayas-wide forum featured paper presentations on curricular enrichment and development, enterprise development, intellectual property management, technology business incubation and technology commercialization, business process outsourcing and infrastructure and physical facilities development.

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