Catanduanes State University (CatSU) President Dr. Patrick Alaine T. Azanza has expressed confidence that the university will be able to open its law and medicine courses in August 2024.
In an interview with the Tribune, Dr. Azanza said that to maintain its timetable for the new curricular offerings, the administration will have to comply with the June 30, 2023 deadline set by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to submit required documents.
“CHED will only conduct the screening and review of the documents as it will be the Law Education Board which will approve the application,” he clarified.
With regards to the proposed College of Law, he disclosed that work for the renovation of existing facilities at the third floor of the main building has already started, with the work estimated to cost P15 million being undertaken by administration.
Among these are the dean’s office, an activity center, a mock courtroom, a seminar hall, and airconditioned classrooms equipped with WiFi, screen projector and multimedia smart screen.
However, the law library will be housed in a separate section at the existing university library, the present said.
According to the feasibility study on the opening of the Juris Doctor (J.D.) Program, an average of four sections composed of 30 students each can be opened by CatSU every academic year.
It projected enrollment in Law Education from Catanduanes at 139 for the first year and 116 for the succeeding year, as prospective students consider the relatively cheaper cost of studying for their law degree right in their own province.
However, the facilities envisioned under the proposal is limited to only two sections of 20 students each.
“An increase in the number of enrollees beyond the four-year period covered by the study will necessitate the construction of a College of Law building within the main campus of the university,” it stressed.
Dr. Azanza said that one qualified law practitioner has already been identified to sit as Dean while eight local lawyers, including Board of Regent (BOR) member and Manila-based corporate lawyer Atty. Santiago T. Gabionza Jr., have already expressed willingness to handle courses in the J.D. program.
The program will require an investment of over P28 million, to be initially sourced from the internally generated funds of the university.
The study also said that for the program to break even, it will need at least 36 students per semester to be enrolled full-time, with profit to come in by the third year.
As to the proposed Medicine Program, Pres. Azanza said that the opening of the new course is compliant with a new CHED guideline that allows medicine courses focused on family medicine and community practice to be approved without need to have a tertiary hospital as partner.
“The subjects and cases to be studied will be different from that of a traditional medicine course,” he bared.
Aside from the Eastern Bicol Medical Center, which is not a tertiary hospital, CatSU has reached an agreement with the Bicol University College of Medicine for the sharing of resources and facilities, from the faculty and library to its hospital for training.
Regarding books, a supplier has already agreed to provide online resources, the president said, while Rex Bookstore would be donating law books.
The J.D. Program will reportedly require a tuition of at least P20,000 per semester including miscellaneous fees while medicine students will have to shell out P400 to P800 per unit.
There will be no free tuition as the courses are not covered by existing law but Governor Joseph Cua has vowed to allocate 15 slots annually for each course at CatSU under the provincial government’s Law and Medicine scholarship program.
Pres. Azanza also revealed that under an internationalization program with Taiwan and Canada universities, the tie-up will provide for an exposure for Catandunganon students in advanced medical facilities in the two countries.
The new curricular offerings will likewise lead to changes in the land use at CatSU, with the College of Health Sciences to eventually transfer to the Nutrition and Dietetics area where a new medical complex will rise.
The existing CHS facility will eventually form part of the College of Engineering and Architecture complex, the president said.
The proposed structures will be financed by a P1.2-billion capital outlay proposed for 2023-2025 that was already endorsed by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
“It is in the pipeline already,” Dr. Azanza confirmed.
On the other hand, he reported that enrolment for the Master of Nursing program, which took decades before it was realized, will start this August 2023 when the new school year opens.
The MAN program faculty will be headed by at least two members who are PhD graduates.
The postgraduate offering at CHS is another feather in the cap for Dr. Azanza, who marks his second year as university president this June 25, 2023.
Aside from MAN, his administration opened four other new courses: Bachelor of Arts in Architecture, Bachelor of Science in Electronics and Communications Engineering, Bachelor of Arts in English Language, and Bachelor of Library and Information Science.
“We got the Board of Regent’s approval for the CatSU Open University and we are now working on the permit for our first Open University course which is Master of Arts in Educational Management which would really help our DepEd faculty,” the president stated.