Learning, unlearning, and relearning. These are the essential skills for the 21 centuries that educators across the world try to inculcate in today’s learners. Research and communication play a crucial role in this process, especially in higher education practices. Universities worldwide know this too well, and the University of Asia and Pacific (UA&P) has let out its sails to take on the challenge.
To begin with, this private not-for profit Philippine university has for its forerunner the prominent Center for Research and Communication (CRC), an economic think tank established by Dr Jesus P Estanislao and Dr Bernardo M Villegas, both alumni of Harvard University, together with a small group of young professionals. CRC offered graduate courses in economics and gradually expanded its reach with its innovative academic programs. In 1995, the Commission on Higher Education granted CRC a university status. Since then, CRC has become known as the University of Asia and the Pacific or UA&P.
Having started its journey in the field of education in 1967, UA&P continues to abide by its educational principles: UA&P believes that the primary purpose of education is the integral formation of the human person, the fullest development of everything that is human in the individual… Hence, the University dedicates itself to the highest standards of professional excellence in our academic, scientific and cultural endeavours; the inculcation of sound and time-tested human and social values and attitudes in people; and the arduous but most spiritually rewarding pursuit of wisdom, the synthesis of love of God and knowledge, faith and reason, culture and life.
In a conversation with UA&P President Dr Winston Conrad B. Padojinog, the man at the helm of UA&P shares the different learning initiatives started and adopted by the University that completes the integral development of its students in this modern world.
Standardizing the Academic Process
The world has gone through some major changes since the COVID-19 pandemic started. With the impetus provided by the pandemic for a swift shift toward standardizing the academic process, the University has curated an outcome-based student learning program for holistic development.
“One of the key developments has been the collection of data on academic operations and academic performance in a single platform—our learning management system—which has given us the opportunity to do a deeper review of what is going on in our University,” says Dr Padojinog.
“We are developing a new framework for teaching practice across the institution that is very explicitly geared towards measuring learning outcomes—in both quantitative and qualitative ways—and away from the “content delivery” practices that have been prevalent in educational institutions for a very long time now. This entails a multi-year campaign to help both teachers and students shift their focus from “performance” (test scores, etc.) to learning outcomes.”
There is always something special about the leaders that climb up the ladder in their own playground. Similar is the story of the fourth President of the University of Asia and Pacific, Dr Winston Conrad B. Padojinog.
He has served the University in various capacities and handled many important positions at the University. All these opportunities provided him with the credentials, credibility, and competence to lead the University, which is committed to building brilliant academicians, researchers, and st administrators for the 21 century.
“His wealth of knowledge on industrial economics and strategic management has exposed him to the external and practical working as a consultant and policy adviser to industry, businesses, government units, and policymakers. It has presented to him direct and practical experiences related to management and leadership knowledge, skills, and mindset that has allowed UA&P to stay relevant and a step ahead in meeting urgent yet unserved societal needs,” observes a university official about Dr Padojinog.
Data-Driven High-Quality Education
The introduction of LMS has allowed the University to centralize the course delivery and student activity, along with maintaining the high quality of education in UA&P. The university officials have highlighted that in the next few years, the focus will be on assisting the academic managers with the help of data collected to monitor and improve teaching practices and achieve the expected learning outcome in all of the departments of the University.
Talking about how the University plans to inculcate quality education in its curriculum driven by data, the University President notes, “Data is not the end-all and be-all of our efforts. We still believe in the value of a liberal arts curriculum as a foundation for our various specializations, so we continue fostering a teaching culture that is focused on developing skills such as critical thinking, effective communication, and other skills required for the 21st century.”
Learning Outside the Academic Sphere
UA&P offers a diverse selection of activities, development programs, and volunteer opportunities for students who aim to optimize their UA&P experience. The University advocates responsible participation in student government, student publications, student organizations, and varsity teams and sports clubs. These combine to address the various needs of students and provide an atmosphere conducive to personal learning and growth. The annual Unitas Awards recognizes the accomplishments of achieving student interest groups, associations, and guilds.
Emphasizing on the different personal interests and hobbies that the University provides venues for the students to explore, a student affairs officer mentions, “There are organizations for writers, theatre artists, dance enthusiasts, musicians and music producers, environmental conservationists, entrepreneurs, scholars, public speakers, ideathon seekers, student leaders, science lovers, peer counsellors, athletes, and mass servers.”
Academic Excellence Beyond Geographical Boundaries
Global exposure in this 21 century has become the need to excel in any spectrum of life. Even for the principle of learning, unlearning, and relearning, global exposure has been identified as a deciding factor. In that view, UA&P has developed a robust student exchange program with partner universities across Asia, the Pacific, Europe, and Latin America. Moreover, the University of Asia and the Pacific is also a member of several international associations that provide opportunities for mobility in learning beyond geographical boundaries.
Preparing the Present for the Future
UA&P provides students access to several online platforms and resources that help them become more productive wherever they go. At their fingertips are sets of communication and collaboration tools designed to facilitate learning and a better university experience.
More important, however, is the Student Mentoring Program of UA&P, which is an intrinsic part of the University’s liberal education. Through this program, the University offers interdisciplinary industry-relevant knowledge, skills, and values which are reinforced on a one-to-one personal level.
Moreover, the mentoring sessions may occur twice a month and on a regular basis. The conversations between the student and mentor are kept confidential, which helps the student to reflect upon, assess, evaluate, and integrate their learning skills and experiences. This way, under the guidance of the mentor, the student is Dr Winston Conrad B. Padojinog University President benefited from upskilling their intellectual skills and moral criteria.
The University President explains why the University has chosen this path to develop a holistic future for its students. Dr Padojinog states, “Part of a student’s integral formation is a deeper understanding of themselves and their growth in spiritual life. Hence, we encourage students to meet their mentors and to take advantage of the many other opportunities for intellectual and spiritual growth that the University provides.”
Awards and Accolades
- “Outstanding Position Paper Award” and the “Distinguished Delegation Award” at National Model United Nations in New York, the world’s largest and oldest ongoing intercollegiate Model UN.
- Grand Champions of the Asian Business Case Competition 2021. Becoming the first Philippine team to have ever won in the 13-year history of Asia’s largest sustainability case competition.
- UA&P is one of 15 Philippine universities now among the best higher education institutions in the world, according to the 2022 Times Higher Education Impact Rankings.
- UA&P Institute of Law achieved a 100% passing rate in the 2021-2021 Bar Examinations.
- UA&P School of Law and Governance faculty member Atty. Joel Arzaga was awarded the Viktor Frankl Award in recognition of his contributions to the formation of young people from the Asia Pacific region and for his public advocacy for the right to life and for the sanctity of marriage and the family.
- The London-based International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC), which seeks to establish integrated reporting and thinking within the mainstream business practice, has appointed UA&P Center for Social Responsibility Executive Director Mr Colin L. Hubo as one of its global ambassadors.
Envisioning the Future
Envisioning the future of the University, Dr Winston Conrad B. Padojinog asserts, “UA&P will continue to cater to both the local and global labor markets and respond to the needs of the labor force in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”
“I imagine our University to be an excellent example of the integration of knowledge, pedagogy, and technology. In-classroom presence will be complemented with other learning modalities, such as on-the-job training, collaboration with other schools, participation in competitions, etc. In short, hybrid education will be the norm,” he further adds.
“The qualifications of the faculty and administrative staff will include in-depth knowledge and familiarity with the use of digital technology and its seamless integration with knowledge and pedagogy. Upskilling and reskilling of the faculty will be critical for a successful hybrid program. Our digitized administrative services will be end to end—from marketing to admission, registration, enrollment, schooling, and all the way to graduation and alumni engagement,” he explains.