Regional System Expansion of University Sought in Congress Bill
September 21, 2005

ANTICIPATING an increasing demand for socialized tertiary education in Western Mindanao, President Dr. Eldigario D. Gonzales has initiated the enactment into law the conversion of the Western Mindanao State University into the Western Mindanao Regional State University System (WMRSUS). Zamboanga City Congressman Erbie Fabian filed the bill in Congress recently. Dr. Gonzales is optimistic the bill will fare smoothly in Lower House since majority of the region’s congressmen and local government executives have expressed support for the proposal.

As proposed in House Bill No. 4559, the existing autonomous campus of WMSU in Tampilisan, Zamboanga del Norte and Dumingag, Zamboanga del Sur, its extension campuses in Ipil and Malangas, Zamboanga Sibugay as well as in Pagadian City along with the other 16 other extension units shall all become organic autonomous campuses of the system, Dr. Gonzales said.

“The purpose of the University is to provide the necessary leadership in professional and technical instruction in the arts, sciences and technology in line with the goals for national, regional, and local government,” the bill stated. “The University shall offer undergraduate and graduate courses in the arts and sciences, education, medical sciences, agriculture, foregstry, engineering and technology, and other courses necessary to meet the need for trained manpower in the Western Mindanao are, in particular, and the Southeast Asia region, in general,” it added.

The bill pointed out that of the 39 existing higher education institutions in the region, only six are State-run. It is said the high cost of studying in private schools deters the yourth living in the countryside from obtaining higher education, hence the need to avail the more affordable state-owned university services in rural areas.

The system will also maintain “reasonably-sized elementary and secondary laboratory school in any of its campuses where it maintains a College Education,” including the possible absorption of existing public elementary and secondary schools to serve as pilot centers for innovative teaching and learning strategies.

The new system will be endowed with corporate powers and fiscal autonomy. The governing board shall have to power to fix “a socialized scheme of tuition and school fees for greater access by poor but deserving student.” It may also enter into “build, operate and transfer and join ventures/schemes with business and industry for the profitable development and management of the economic assets of the University,” the bill further stipulated.

The local governments will be required to allocate a percentage of their internal revenue allotment to the university for its capital outlay investments and land for the new campuses.