The Southeast Asian University Consortium for Graduate Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC) and the State Universities and Colleges - Association of Colleges of Agriculture in the Philippines (SUC-ACAP) entered into an agreement for the project “Leveling Up Philippine Higher Education Institutions in Agriculture, Fisheries, and Natural Resources (LevelUPHEI AFaR)” implemented by SEARCA with funding from the Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED). The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) will enable SUC-ACAP members to participate in UC activities, and send faculty/staff to the UC members on mobility.
The ceremonial signing of MOU on August 10, 2021, was attended by principal signatories and witnesses from IPB University, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Kasetsart University, Universiti Putra Malaysia, University of the Philippines Los Baños, Universitas Brawijaya, National Taiwan University, SEARCA, and SUC-ACAP. Newly appointed UC members, Maejo University, Central Luzon State University, and Visayas State University were also present during the signing. Among the members of SUC-ACAP, 32 Philippine SUCs attended the virtual event to formalize the partnership as part of CHED's 2021 ASEAN Celebration.
Dr. Maria Cristeta N. Cuaresma, Program Head of the Education and Collective Learning Department (ECLD), SEARCA, provided an overview of the project and the collaboration, the institutions involved, and the activities offered by the UC in line with the project.
Speaking on behalf of Dr. J. Prospero De Vera III, CHED Chairperson, Atty. Lily Freida M. Milla, Officer-in-Charge, Office of the Deputy Executive Director; and Director III, International Affairs Staff, highlighted that the partnership “is a way forward and a victory for Philippine Higher Education as we strengthen ASEAN relations by establishing academic exchanges and collaborations.”
According to Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio, SEARCA Director, the occasion showed the culmination of the vision of working together across disciplines for the region's development.
Dr. Edgardo E. Tulin, SUC-ACAP and Visayas State University President, spoke on behalf of the association members and expressed his gratitude to the UC for partnering with SUC-ACAP. The partnership with the UC is in line with its goal to provide capacity building for Philippine HEIs to ensure the quality of agriculture professionals in the future. Dr. Tulin highlighted that addressing the concerns and challenges in the agriculture sector requires partnerships to deliver impactful results, and they are looking forward to working with the UC.
Professor Dr. Mohd Roslan Sulaiman, Vice-Chancellor of Universiti Putra Malaysia and the Chair of the 2021 UC Executive Board Meeting, delivered a message on behalf of the UC. He encouraged the SUC-ACAP attendees to participate in the UC activities and expressed hope that the partnership will pave for resilient instruction, research, extension, and administration in higher education amidst globalization and in a time of disruptions and uncertainties.
Mr. Joselito G. Florendo, Deputy Director for Administration of SEARCA, expressed his gratitude to all the institutions who have contributed to the capacity-building activities addressing agricultural development in Southeast Asia. SEARCA hopes that this partnership will strengthen the institutional ties between and among leading agricultural universities in the region and allow the participating institutions to further their mandate.
Institutional linkages and knowledge-sharing activities have helped elevate the internationalization of higher education not only for Philippine SUCs but in many other universities in Southeast Asia. The UC will be opening its Summer School, Graduate Forum, Faculty Forum, and Faculty Mobilities to all 75 members of SUC-ACAP. SEARCA will also provide short-term training programs relevant to research and development, and leadership and management of HEIs, and cross visits to higher educational institutions in SEAMEO member countries.