SEARCA concludes landmark development project for Philippine HEIs

LOS BAÑOS, Laguna: The Philippine government-hosted Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) has marked the completion of one of its Institutional Development Assistance (IDA) projects.

SEARCA Director Glenn Gregorio said the project Leveling-up Philippine Higher Education Institutions in Agriculture, Fisheries and Natural Resources was funded by the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd).

Spanning from 2021 to 2013, the project was under CHEd's International Continuing Professional Education, or ICPE program.

Gregorio said the project included short-term training programs, mobility exchanges, summer schools, faculty-graduate forums, cross-visits and active participation in the Southeast Asian University Consortium for Graduate Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC).

"The project's overarching aim was to enhance the relevance and competitiveness of the country's higher education institutions (HEIs) in the 21st century," said Gregorio.

The project taught and nurtured Central Luzon State University (CLSU), Visayas State University (VSU) and Central Mindanao University (CMU) to become UC affiliate members "with the ultimate goal of securing regular membership and elevating their positions in global university rankings," Gregorio said.

SEARCA said there were at least 612 faculty members from 60 State Universities and Colleges Association of Colleges of Agriculture in the Philippines Inc. member universities across 16 regions in the country reaping the benefits of the project.

Gregorio said the establishment of memoranda of understanding and agreement were tangible outcomes with visited UC member universities, curriculum revisions, journal article submissions, the introduction of new extension programs, integration of acquired knowledge into existing courses and the appointment of mentors from overseas mobility exchanges as adjunct faculty members of the HEIs.

Playing a pivotal role in fostering international linkages and collaboration, the project also contributed significantly to the academic and personal growth of the grantees.

As a result, Gregorio said CLSU and VSU successfully attained regular membership in the UC in 2023, while CMU holds affiliate membership status and its three-year probationary period toward regular membership is nearing completion.