THE Research and Extension (R&E) sector under the leadership of the Vice President for Research and extension (VPRE) has been very active in the many venues, providing discussions and future planning of Benguet State University as it envisions to be a Premiere University delivering world class education that promotes sustainable development amidst climate change. Amidst its limitation and present challenges, It is serious in its function to generate, develop and verify technologies that are responsive to the needs of its target communities, and at the same time disseminate and commercialize mature and appropriate technologies while protecting corresponding intellectual properties.
During its four days strategic planning building workshop last month which was facilitated by Dr. Lily Ann D. Lando, a well known “home made BSU delight” and now an international consultant, many heads were squeezed to analyze the sector’s present situation and come up with parameters for planning, strategies to go on with the plan and a general work plan that is attainable in four-five years . This will provide an indicator in measuring the accomplishment of the vision during the five year term of our centennial president, Dr. Feliciano G. Calora, Jr.
In the series of activities provided for the planning workshop, various issues were brought out by the participants coming from the different centers/ institutes of the R&E sector. Step by step, the status of the research and extension sector was assessed not only in terms of its expected deliverables but more importantly, as an organization.
Some of the highlights include the limited budget being allocated for research and extension work in the past. But the sector was not tied by such limitation as evidenced by its external funds which consistently supported many of the Research and Extension programs of the University for the past years. The senior faculty and non-faculty researchers were creative enough to tap funding agencies here and abroad which facilitated the conduct of relevant research and extension projects, which were also helpful to the needs of our partner communities. As of 2016, more than 50 million pesos was generated and utilized from external funds, which augmented some of the needs of the R&E sector.
Another highlight of the status of R&E sector is the absence of high end research facilities and/ or specialized laboratories which limits the extent of technical researches being conducted. It is a good news that the sector prioritized this in its 2017 budget, and in recognition of such urgent need, the University through its finance sector and the support of the president has approved for the allotment to purchase a specialized laboratory next year. Such is not yet enough to meet the growing needs of our researchers and students but it is always a hope that through this, the University will be able to perform better in its function and be able to attract further funding to support the other needs for laboratories and the like.
Other more important concerns that were identified by the R&E sector include the limited numbers of capable researchers and the low level of adoption of BSU technologies. Accordingly these are the most important areas which needs to be addressed to lead the sector in its right direction. Such is evident in the result like in the Cordillera Higher Education (CHED) and Department of Budget and management (DBM) evaluation for State Universities and Colleges (SUC) levelling, where the main hindrance for BSU to become SUC level V is actually the lack of faculty researchers who were able to publish in CHED-accredited or ISI journal. The University president in his remarks during the planning encouraged and pushed the sector for a 50% increase in faculty who are doing research and extension during his term. Different forms of incentives and awards as stipulated in the recently revised Research and operational Manual of Operation (REMO) are being popularized in the hope to motivate more faculty to engage in research and extension works.
Aside from capacitating more faculty to do research work, the Vice President for Research & Extension (VPRE), Dr. Carlito P. Laurean pushed for the institutionalization of the conduct of student research congress in the University. This aims to provide a space for quality and relevant graduate and undergraduate thesis from the different colleges to be presented to a wider audience. The VPRE in his message during the recent regional symposium organized by Highland Agricultural Resources Research and Development Consortium (HARRDEC) & Cordillera Industry and Energy Research and Development Consortium (CIERDEC) last September, announced another development in this aspect that a regional wide student research congress shall also be organized starting next year. Such initiatives is in recognition of the students contribution in the search for new knowledge that can also be of help to the university and the community. An exchange of research findings is both an exposure, a learning and hopefully an inspiration for the students to engage in researches even after they graduate.
Back to back with the need for more researchers is the need to bring the research outputs to our target clients/ communities for their use if, researches are really meant to contribute in uplifting the lives of our partner communities. The poor interface of research and extension has been hampering the adoption of matured technologies by the farmers and other end users. This has been a major issue which the sector honestly acknowledged and hence recommended possible steps to address it such as integrating the extension aspect in whatever research proposals to be crafted. Mechanism has to be drawn to ensure the active publication, popularization of research outputs in different forms not only for the university but for the community as well.
The participants optimistically identified areas of CHANGES which needs to happen for the sector to become what it envisions as a dynamic and responsive sector that generates and promotes relevant technologies through leading a strong and excellent research and extension culture.
Through this and other community engagements, the University will be visible and felt in the different communities, which it intends to serve.