Senator Pia S. Cayetano congratulated the University of the Philippines (UP) for the high scores it obtained in the latest World University Rankings for its clinical, pre-clinical, and health research citations, noting that Philippine universities have lagged behind in the area of research for the past decades, but UP is finally putting us on the map of top universities of the world.
“Most of us may not be aware of it, but UP now ranks among the world’s top universities in terms of citations for clinical, pre-clinical, and health subjects,” Cayetano shared, following Monday’s (Sept. 21) Senate Committee on Finance hearing on the proposed 2021 budget for the UP system, State Universities and Colleges (SUCs), and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).
“This is great news coming at a time when the country is realizing how investments in research are crucial to addressing public health emergencies like COVID-19. Despite UP being cited, our overall research capability as a country remains low,” added the Vice Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance overseeing the budget for health and education.
The senator was referring to the 2021 Times Higher Education World University Rankings (THE-WUR), wherein UP’s citation score for its clinical, pre-clinical, and health research (91.9%) ranked higher than some of the world’s top universities, including University of Oxford (74%), University of Cambridge (68.8%), and Harvard University (66.7%).
“UP’s high score is an indicator of the impact and influence of its research, which researchers from other countries have cited for succeeding studies and possible innovations,” she explained.
Cayetano added that “strategic investments in public health research and innovation would allow the country to catch up with some of our neighbors in Southeast Asia which have been able to handle COVID-19 more efficiently using advanced science and technology.”
“We act surprised that our neighbors, like Thailand and Vietnam, are already developing a vaccine, when in fact, we have not been investing in research laboratories for decades,” she stressed.
On the other hand, Cayetano noted that funding for the research budget of the 111 other SUCs in the country is very low compared to the research expenditures of some of our ASEAN neighbors.
“Sadly, the budget for research for all the SUCs that Senator Joel Villanueva proposed and that we supported in the 2020 budget, was one of the items that was realigned for COVID response. The same happened to the research budget for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and futures thinking,” noted Cayetano, the Chairperson of the Senate Committee on SDGs, Innovation, and Futures Thinking.
As reported before the committee by Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC) President Dr. Tirso Ronquillo, government funding for SUCs’ research and technical advisory extension programs represent just 3% and 2%, respectively, of the P64.7-billion proposed SUCs budget this year.
Overall, Dr. Ronquillo noted that the country’s budget for research and development only represents 0.16% of our GDP, which is lower compared to Singapore (1.94%), Malaysia (1.44%), Thailand (1%), and Vietnam (0.53%).
“Our finance committee chair, Sen. Sonny Angara understands and supports the need for funding in research. We will work together to ensure we have a strong budget for research for 2021. We already have the foundation and potential. We just need to translate these into concrete programs to better serve the needs of Filipinos,” Cayetano concluded.#