AFTER it acquired Southwestern University (SWU) for P1.9 billion in April 2015, Phinma Corp. executives said the company will spend P400 million in the next three years for the renovation of the school buildings, a hospital, and for purchase of new equipment.
Phinma Education president and chief executive officer Chito B. Salazar said a large portion of the amount will be for the renovation of the SWU-Phinma medical school, as it intends to make medicine the flagship course in the university.
“We postpone the purchase of new equipment because we don’t want to put new equipment in old facilities. So the first we’ll do is to renovate and upgrade the school of medicine this July, and the hospital will start in November,” Salazar said. He also announced that the listed firm will rename the formerly Aznar-led Sacred Heart Hospital to Southwestern Medical Center.
Phinma Corp. CEO and SWU-Phinma chair Ramon del Rosario Jr. and vice chair Magdaleno B. Albaraccin joined Salazar in a media roundtable on Thursday night. The company also introduced SWU Phinma’s new logo.
Aside from adding capital to SWU Phinma, the newest participant in Cebu’s academe, which maintains some 70 percent stake of the formerly Aznar-run SWU, commits to review the courses and curriculum of the university, admitting to the possible removal of some courses where there is no industry demand.
Del Rosario said the plan is to make SWU-Phinma a center for medicine, medical technology, pharmacy, dentistry, engineering, and architecture. Phinma maintains investments in power, hotel, and housing businesses, among others.
“A conglomerate like Phinma brings something special in education like our knowledge in business practices, which allows us to make the university more efficient and therefore allows us to make it a profitable business, without making it very expensive,” del Rosario said.
In its latest venture in education, the conglomerate has already acquired five schools. Apart from SWU in Cebu, it also acquired tertiary schools in Iloilo, Cabanatuan, Cagayan, and Dagupan.
Last March, Phinma closed the SWU Basak campus that offered elementary up to high school education. Salazar said it provided 50 percent discount on tuition to displaced students who enroll in SWU main campus this year and offered shuttle rides.
Del Rosario considers SWU as the “jewel” of its education portfolio, identifying it as a school with a very strong brand in Visayas and Mindanao.
“Southwestern was a school we have been wanting to acquire for many years, but it was not an easy acquisition,” del Rosario said.
With its SWU acquisition from the Aznar family, it also acquired university problems, including the college of medicine recognition, which involved SWU College of Medicine and the SWU Matias H. Aznar Memorial College of Medicine, Inc. (MHAM).
Salazar reiterated the issue has already been solved, with both schools having received full recognition by the Commission on Higher Education (Ched), and that officials of the SWU-MHAM has decided to rename the school.
With the company’s ambitious plan for SWU Phinma, Albaraccin said students may expect tuition increases alongside with the improvements that the students may start seeing in a matter of one year, but it will not be “very high.” Salazar said they will not go beyond the rates of University of San Carlos.
The conglomerate has 47,000 students in its school portfolio, plus another 10,000 with the acquisition of SWU.