State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) are now aimingto become specialecozones under the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA). This was expressed in a series of forums conducted on September 7 to 9 by speakers from Ayala Foundation Inc., the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), Land Bank of the Philippines, the business process outsourcing sector, and representatives of state universities and colleges, which are already carrying out successful income-generating projects. Participating in the forum were top officials of 28 state schools. The forums were held at Cavite State University, Aklan State College and Mindanao State University for Science and Technology.
Dr. Ruben Sevilleja, President of Central Luzon State University, said "the forums opened our minds to the opportunities awaiting us to earn for our schools if we partner with the private sector. SUCs could ask the Philippine Economic Zone Authority to declare their lands as economic zones and invite investors."
Particularly, the business process outsourcing sector is viable, since universities are producing highly competitive graduates in various fields. The attendees see a good opportunity to invite BPO investors to partner with SUCs, which have ample land to build offices as well as quality manpower.. This, at the same time, will provide income to the school and open opportunities to fresh graduates.
The Commission on Higher Education (CHED), which is amenable to the idea of converting SUC lands to profitable investments, has recently convinced the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC) to participate and allot funding to these business venture explorations.
"We are now looking into technology commercialization [by] putting up incubator projects [and] business process outsourcing' as very viable revenue-making ventures," Sevilleja further said.
Due to government budget cuts for education in the years 2010 and 2011, the SUCs are exploring ways to turn their land assets into revenue-generating investments. According to government records, the overall budget of SUCs in 2011 is 1.7 percent lower than the past year. For the incoming school year, the congress approved only P21.89 billion out of an identified need of P45 billion for education.
Additionally, Benny Palma, President of Carlos Hidalgo Memorial State College in Talisay City, said that "our SUCs were hobbled by the huge budget cut last year." Benny Palma is overall coordinator of the CHED-PASUC education economic zone project. He encouraged SUC presidents to examine the potential revenues of education economic zones and the ways and in which their respective universities can initiate public-private partnerships. "SUC presidents are very desirous to find ways' to augment their income. This education economic zone project is a very welcome project for them," said Palma.