Saloma: ‘Human Resources is Our Ultimate Capital’

By Bing Bong Salinas

Budgetary allocations, graduate scholarships, number of regular faculty items, PhD faculty members, duration of PhD study, and research load. How are these some of these factors correlated with research productivity and human resource generation in the Philippines?

Former UP Diliman Chancellor Caesar Saloma sought to answer this question in his talk regarding the “Human Resource Generation and Funding Absorption capabilities of the Philippine Enterprise System”, at the University of the Philippines President Edgardo J. Angara (UP-PEJA) Public Lecture Series held at the National Institute of Physics on July 19, 2016.

Saloma’s study aims to measure the competence of the Philippine Scientific Enterprise System to produce PhD graduates in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). It also aims to measure the system’s capacity to generate new scientific knowledge in terms of peer-reviewed technical publication. Parameters were confined in the UP System.

Saloma noted that the annual budget of DOST increased by 115.11%, coinciding with the economic growth that is happening in the Philippines. But despite this growth in the economy, the country still falls in the threshold line of Publications made per head versus Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per head. He mentioned that GDP has significant effects on our research industry where higher research productivity is related with higher GDP. In line with this, Saloma proposed that we should first strengthen the institutions in the country by allocating budget to Research and Technology sector from the country’s GDP income.

The student factor was also looked into. In terms of the Philippine Higher Education system, Saloma said that Commission on Higher Education (CHED) data show that 44.2% undergraduates and 46.2% graduate students are in public institutions. Of these undergraduates and graduates in public institutions, Saloma said that 13.7% and 1.52% respectively are in Sciences and Engineering. Saloma remarked that through the years there has been a shrinking number of bachelor degree graduates, whereas there has been an increasing number of masters and constant number of PhD students in the system. Saloma pointed out that this pattern is a good indicator of developing research productivity. Decrease in number of bachelors means an increase in number of those who are taking masters, and eventually PhD degrees.

Saloma’s lecture also presented the faculty members as a factor. In the demographics of the National Science Consortium, as of 2010, there are 764 PhD faculty members, of these, 56.7% ages 51 years old and above. This means that in 10 years, these faculty members will retire leading to the collapse of human resource generation if the pattern of producing PhD graduates will continue.

In terms of knowledge output, Saloma used data from Scopus Publications, the largest database of peer-reviewed literature from the 2009 to 2015. He said that there had been an increase rate of 1.36 ±66.43 publication per year in the said years. 35.57% of these are contributed by the UP constituent units with UP Diliman (51.77%) as the major contributor, followed by UP Manila (23.43) and UP Los Banos (14.74).

Saloma also considered the completion time of PhD degree program. With a sample size of 835 PhD graduates from 2003 to 2015, he determined that the average time to complete a PhD program is 7.791 years. The shortest is 3.3 years and 11.8 years as the longest completion time.

To quantify his data, Saloma used productivity index which is determined by dividing the output by the input, in this case research productivity and human resource generation as the outputs and budgetary allocations, graduate scholarships, number of regular faculty items, PhD faculty members, duration of PhD study, and research load as the inputs.

At the end of his lecture, Saloma recommended among others that PhD scholarships be provided to qualified graduate students in the social sciences and economics, as well as funding for postdoctoral research abroad to PhD graduates. He also recommended the creation of a separate procurement system to deal with public funds for the use of science research and development.

Saloma, who is also a professor based in the National Institute of Physics, emphasized the importance of human resources. “Human resources are the ultimate capital and defining element of the wealth of nation,” he said.

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