YR 47 Issue 1 2011
Revisiting the ‘no MA, no teaching load’ policy   
Having a Master’s degree (MA) is perceived both as a need and an advantage in the academe. As stipulated in the 2008 Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Manual of Regulations, college professors are required to meet the “minimum requirement” that is, to have an “MA degree in the fields they teach.” Despite this memorandum, appeals and contentions arise, saying that having an MA degree does not ensure teaching excellence.

LAST academic year, the University strictly implemented the “No MA, no teaching load” policy, leading to the
dismissal of non-tenured professors. However, in the Faculty of Arts and Letters (Artlets), considerations were given, but with a justifiable cause.

After allowing some of its long-serving and tenured faculty members to teach even without MA, the Faculty strictly implemented the government’s requirement for a professor of a Higher Educational Institution (HEI) to attain an MA before teaching.

“If you do not have an MA, you are not eligible to teach in a university,” Artlets Dean Michael Anthony Vasco said, comparing it with the premise that a doctor cannot practice without a license. “In the same vein, a teacher of a university must have the corresponding credential.”

In strictly implementing the CHED mandate, the University terminated and gave waivers to some professors in 2010. Some of the dismissed professors contested, filed a case against the University, and won.

In Article XV, Section 1a of 2006-2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) of UST with the UST Faculty Union (USTFU), a faculty member who still does not have a post-graduate degree shall finish his MA Degree in a duration of five semesters during his stay in the University. However, if in five semesters he did not finish his MA, he will either be terminated or be tenured if the University still needs his services.

“They (professors) are protected [by the CBA],” USTFU Vice-President Reynaldo Reyes said.During the implementation of the CHED memo in 2010, tenured faculty members were secured by the CBA. “There are some faculty members who were tenured before the MA policy of the CHED was implemented. The University checked on the present and past profiles of the professors,” Vasco said.

Currently, Artlets has a 134-strong teaching staff. Ninety-two are regular and tenured while 42 are visiting lecturers. Eighty-nine percent of the 92 professors already have their MAs and doctorate degrees combined (34 percent have their doctorate degrees while 55 percent finished their MAs). The remaining 11 percent comprises the tenured non-post-degree holders.

In the case of visiting lecturers, they do not apply but are instead invited to teach provided that “the person is of high reputation” (i.e. National Artist or a Ramon Magsaysay Awardee). However, Vasco pointed out that for those seeking a permanent stay in the University, an MA is highly needed, adding that visiting lecturers do not stay with the University unless they are invited to lecture for another period of time.

Pedagogy and content ‘made explicit’

Former Artlets Student Council (ABSC) President Vincent Cifra expressed his interest in teaching at the University, but he is not allowed for he still does not have an MA degree. “I would like to repay my alma mater by giving my teaching services. But UST would only accept teachers with an MA Degree. I still do not have my MA; I am still taking it up,” he said.

However, Cifra sees the requirement as fit. “For me it should be a primary requirement. College teachers should really have mastery on their respective fields,” Cifra said.

He added that a teacher can “prove their mastery through having an MA or through proving their worth in the society.” Cifra cited that an international writer given international awards can be considered a master in his field.

However, Vasco recognized the fact that having an MA does not guarantee the “brilliance” of a professor.

“Acquisition of a higher degree is not a guarantee that you will be a brilliant teacher. Teaching is an art and a craft. It takes time and brewing,” Vasco said, adding that even if a teacher is not brilliant but is a Doctorate degree holder, it will contribute to his teaching craft in terms of content.

“Hypothetically, let us say that you have a lousy teacher, and that lousy teacher does not have a post graduate [degree]. Lousy
na, wala pang content. What if you have a lousy teacher who has an MA degree, at least the content is correct,” Vasco said, adding that the lousy teacher with a post graduate degree can improve his pedagogical skills “little by little” and that he will be able to correlate the pedagogy and the academic content.

Adding to this, Reyes said that teachers without an MA but are good in teaching could be better if they attain a post-graduate degree.

“They could have been more effective if they have an MA degree. It is presumably a good manifestation that you have attained such intellectual maturity,” he said. Reyes noted that a teacher’s mastery “is an assurance” that he has competency in teaching. “[They have a] mastery of the subject made explicit by their MA degree.”

Vasco added that having an MA degree entails one to be recognized by his peers. “People will listen to you [and] no one can question you. That is why you are called [a] master because you have mastered your craft,” he said. “Academic-wise, you are able to demonstrate the mastery of your field.”

Efforts to increase MA holders

In the pursuit of raising the quality of tertiary education in the Philippines, CHED implemented the Faculty Development Program of 2010-2015. It is a scholarship program offered to professors who still do not have a post-graduate degree.

The Commission “encourage[s] and provide[s] assistance to HEIs to enable them meet this CMO (CHED Memorandum Order) requirement.” CHED provides a full scholarship including stipend, book allowances, and the likes to those who will pass the screening.

In line with this, Vasco said the University encourages its professors to continue in pursuing a post-graduate degree. He said that UST shoulders the expenses for the Graduate School fees of its faculty. “For tenured professors, the University offers free [post-graduate] education. If the professor is not tenured, then a 50 percent discount is offered to him by the University,” Vasco said.

Meanwhile, Reyes added that having an MA is advantageous especially for those seeking promotion. “[A faculty member] can be promoted. It is one of the components of promotion,” he said.

Vasco added that a higher rank in the faculty means higher salary. Faculty ranking goes from Instructor, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, to Full Professor. Each has a different level and has higher requirements.

The minimum requirement to be an Associate Professor is to have a doctorate degree, but Reyes said that an MA degree holder may be promoted as an Associate Professor in a case-to-case basis.

“A faculty member [with MA Degree] can be promoted to [the rank of an] Associate Professor only on meritorious cases… Suppose the professor has seminars, speakership
workshop and publication, then he can be promoted,” Reyes said. Vasco also compared the policy of the Philippines to other countries. He said that for an applicant to be an instructor in universities abroad, he needs to obtain at least a Doctorate Degree.

“Can you imagine? [But] they do allow an MA Degree [holder to teach] if the person is a candidate of Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy),” he said, mentioning the countries belonging to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). “They already require credentials higher than [an] MA degree. We must follow suit….professors cannot simply bank on the MA degree. The battle cry now is to get the Ph.D.”
Year 47 |  Issue 3 |  2011
Academic officials defend MA requirement
Year 47 |  Issue 4 |  2012