If you have been in that particular campus in Katipunan, more or less, while you were walking in the pavements of their excessive parking space, you definitely heard students having conversation using the English language articulately. If you have tried jogging around the academic oval of a certain university in Diliman, you would have heard some people arguing with each other regarding academic matters, while speaking with the use of the English language. Now, if you stroll around the glorious streets of España, P.Noval, Dapitan, and A.H.Lacson, will you be able to see Thomasians doing the same thing? Will you be able to hear them speaking the English language on a regular basis?
The London-based research center, Quacquarelli-Symonds, released their latest rankings of the World’s Best Universities in terms of teaching English. And lo and behold, three Philippine universities were included on the list—the Ateneo de Manila University, the University of the Philippines, and De La Salle University. Some people wondered why the University of Santo Tomas wasn’t able to get in the list. Well, even we Thomasians wonder why we did not make the cut.
Only three academic institutions in the Philippines were able to enter the top 100 World’s Best Universities in terms of teaching English. The Ateneo de Manila University ranked 24th, besting other prestigious universities, such as New York University which ranked 29th, and even two members of the Ivy League—Brown University at the 31st spot, and Dartmouth College at 51th-100th. The Ateneo ranked second over-all in South-East Asia, trailing National University of Singapore on the 22nd spot. The University of the Philippines and De La Salle University ranked 32nd and 44th respectively.
A lot of questions were raised regarding the matter. Why did UST not make it to the list? What is missing with UST when it comes to teaching the English language? What is the edge of the Ateneo, UP, and La Salle from UST in terms of teaching English? What should UST do to enter the list? These are the questions we need to ponder on, the questions that we are required to search for answers.
According to Associate Professor Camilla Vizconde, UST’s Department of English chair, it is hard to compare UST from other universities because we have different standards in judging different methods in teaching English. “If your basis is QS, then academic reputation, employee reputation, faculty-student ratio, papers per faculty and citations per paper are the bases of the ranking,” the chair of the Department of English said, citing the criteria of QS.
The Department of English proposed a number of programs for this academic year to improve our reputation in terms of teaching English.
“Dr. Madrunio, the former chair, has proposed long-term goals for the Department which I intend to achieve, at least partially, during my term,” Vizconde said. “We are on our way to publishing the first journal of the Department before the school year ends. We have also created a committee to look into networking with Dominican Network (DOMNET) schools. We will look into the specialization of teachers so we can tap them in our training for partner institutions. We are also looking forward to the 2nd English National Conference next year which the Department sponsors. We are also supporting the efforts of the Language Center to create more awareness of its existence so we can invite more local and foreign students to enroll in its programs.”
Vizconde is confident that we can make it to the list, and what we should do to make it is to train our faculty members, immerse them through trainings, and expose them to the field in order to improve our faculty profile.
“A strong faculty force will help improve the teaching of English,” Vizconde added. “Once teachers get exposed to more training, seminars and conferences, they can benchmark their practices with those in the field. A stronger presence in the academic world should also be established. Teachers’ evaluation should be seriously considered too in improving instruction.”
When asked about her opinion regarding QS’s latest ranking of the best universities in terms of teaching English, Vizconde was happy that at least three universities in our country made the cut.
“I am glad that despite our being non-native speakers of the English language, some of our universities made it to the list,” Vizconde said. “Following the criteria set by QS, these universities have met the international standards.”
By Jan Angelo Yvan L. Cabantog
Photo taken by Jenzine Inah M. Alcantara