PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law that allows foreign higher education institutions (HEIs) to establish operations in the Philippines through a local partner.
Republic Act (RA) 11448, signed by Duterte on August 28, establishes transnational higher education (TNHE) in an effort to "bring international quality standards and expertise into the country, with a view to making higher education globally competitive, attracting a flow of talented students, faculty, and staff and improving the country's human resource base."
TNHE includes "all types and modes of delivery of higher education study programs, sets of courses of study, or educational services, including distance education and study-abroad programs."
The law provides that foreign HEIs (FHEIs) may engage in the business of providing education services in the Philippines through any of the indicated modes or through any other arrangement with a Philippine HEi that is consistent with the Philippine Constitution, and other laws and policies, and based on mutually agreed terms.
IT also allows FHEIs to enter into collaborative arrangements with Philippines HEIs like twinning arrangements or joint degrees, whereby study programs, or parts of a course of study, or other educational services of the awarding institutions are provided by another partner institution.
FHEIs may also establish branch campus in the Philippines through a local partner, at least 60 percent of which is owned by Filipino citizens, and duly registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or the Department of Trade and Industry, as the case may be.
RA 11448 tasks the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) to formulate a "coherent national strategy" to encourage and facilitiate the establishment of the most effective forms of TNHE programs and institutions in the country.
The law likewise mandates duly-authorized higher education institutions (HEIs) to establish and administer TNHE programs.
TNHE programs and arrangements, whether existing, emerging, or anticipated, include academic franchising; articulation; branch campus; international branch campus; joint degree; double degree; online, blended and distance learning; open distance learning; TNHE Offshore institution; twinning arrangements; and validation.
"HEIs intending to enter into partnerships or arrangements with other HEIs may explore or propose to the Ched any mode or arrangement. The Ched, in consultation with other agencies and HEIs, may add other forms of modes of TNHE as it may deem suitable and in furtherance of the objectives of providing quality TNHE programs in the country," RA 11448 said.
"These modes or arrangements must be consistent with the Philippine development plans, and not in contravention of the Constitution and other laws and policies," it added.
In the event of termination of a partnership or the closure of the TNHE program, insitutions engaged need to ensure that commitments made to enrolled students are met, including offering students alternative pathways for completing the program to which they have been accepted.
Courses offered by TNHE institutions (TNHEIs) may include undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate degrees.
"The Ched, in consultation with stakeholders from the HEIs and appropriate government agencies, may determine the propriety of offering other specialized courses, including Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Medicine, by qualified institutions," RA 11448 read.
Under the law, all revenues and assets of nonstock, nonprofit TNHEIs that are used actually, directly, and exclusively for educational purposes will be exempt from taxes and duties.
All grants, bequest, endowments, donations, and contributions made to the TNHEI that will be used actually, directly, and exclusively by the said educational instituion will likewise be exempt from donor's tax.
The funds that will be used for the implementation of RA 11448 will be charged against the current year's appropriation of the Ched. Thereafter, the ammount necessary for the continued implementation of the law will be included in the annual General Appropriations Act.
The law, a copy of which was sent to the media just on Wednesday, September 25, takes effect 15 days after its publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation. (SunStar Philippines)