Interview: Jikyeong Kang

How can an accreditation system help strengthen the quality of higher education in the Philippines?

JIKYEONG KANG: In the Philippines, the transition period from K-12 to higher education is crucial for ensuring that students are prepared for college. Only so much can be taught at the higher education level unless incoming students are prepared for academic life.

As a country, accreditations have not been widely embraced. Accreditations are not meant to be bureaucratic hurdles for schools but drivers to ensure minimum quality standards. Some accreditations can be a challenging task for institutions if they do not have the appropriate resources to meet the necessary criteria. The government may consider providing incentives for educational institutions to seek and adopt accreditations. For business schools in developing countries, aiming for an Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) accreditation may appear to be a demanding task; however, significant mentorship is provided by the AACSB for those institutions that want to get accredited but do not know where to start. Allowing accreditation to be voluntary, while providing a mentorship mechanism, allows the process to become a collaborative effort and help to raise the quality for all institutions involved.

In what ways can business schools develop a curriculum responsive to the needs of ASEAN?

KANG: Business schools can highlight the value of ASEAN in the economic realm through industry-focused research, expanded public and alumni outreach, and curricular content enrichment through case stories. Diversity – whether in ethnicity, nationality, communication style or culture – is very important for any business school, as its graduates should be expected to do business internationally. As a result, business schools need to facilitate an international setting by promoting diversity in students and faculty. This is not only done for the sake of diversity, but to allow sharing of different experiences and perspectives as part of the educational experience.

How can the Philippines raise awareness and promote ASEAN integration to domestic businesses and higher education graduates?

KANG: Currently, it is the governments of ASEAN member states – not markets – that are providing growth and implementing regional economic integration policies. Whether liberalised through enhanced economic-technical cooperation or through implementation of lower tariff and non-tariff barriers, governments need to communicate the benefits of such policies to businesses and skilled workers. This has to be made at macro-, industry- and region-specific levels.

What can the government do to encourage the private sector to partner with academia and improve the quality of the domestic workforce?

KANG: The Philippine problem is two-sided. On the one hand, the country does not have enough jobs to employ graduates; on the other hand, companies argue that they are not getting graduates with the right type of skills. As a result, the country needs to create more jobs as well as industries that will hire new graduates that have been trained and have acquired the right kind of skill sets. Academia is not completely at fault with regard to this mismatch; however, part of the problem is that there is a lack of dialogue between academia and the industry. They need to be able to understand each other and address perception gaps.

A private sector that is aware of industry developments is critical to understanding the changing needs of businesses. Sharing these developments with academia is essential for South-east Asia. This way educational institutions can play a leading role in developing the global value chain through a more creative and competitive workforce; this also holds true for shaping the innovative industries of the 21st century.