The Best Universities in the Philippines

The University of the Philippines recently made headlines again, this time because the institution earned a spot in the top 500 universities worldwide. The list, made by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2020, covered 1,400 universities from 92 countries around the world. The performance of institutions was measured by the core objectives of teaching, research, knowledge transfer, and international outlook.

In the Philippines, the number of Filipinos striving for higher education is on the rise. The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has collected reports on the number of beneficiaries from the Republic Act 10931, which gave free higher education accessible to 112 state universities and colleges and 78 local universities and colleges. Since passing the legislation, CHED reports 1.18 million students have benefited from accessible university-level education.

Although RA10931 may only apply to state and local universities and colleges, CHED is also in the process of recalibrating advancements in higher education institutions. As reported by Manila Bulletin, this is made possible via a memorandum signed between CHED and the Center for Global Advancement of Community Colleges. The memorandum strengthens international bonds of Philippine-accredited universities through joint conferences, research programs, the exchange of academic materials and publications, faculty and student exchanges for research and lectures, and the like.

Currently, the Philippines has the most higher education institutions (HEIs) in the ASEAN, with 1943 private HEIs, 1,710 private universities, and 233 state universities and colleges.

With the advancements in higher education in mind, it is important to note exactly which institutions are excelling. Here are universities in the Philippines that have been acknowledged as being the best of the best.

Polytechnic University of the Philippines

Image from The Philippine Star.

The Polytechnic University of the Philippines has 21 campuses, and is an institution based on the tenets of nation-building and service in the betterment of the country. Currently, PUP is the only polytechnic university in the Philippines, meaning the institution takes extra steps to enrich academic learning with applied skills to make their students knowledgeable and highly employable in their desired fields.

Mapúa University

Image from CNN Philippines.

Mapúa University was founded in 1925 by the first registered architect in the Philippines, Don Tomas Mapúa. Since then, the university has striven to develop their programs in architecture, engineering, information technology, business, and the social sciences. Mapúa currently has 8 departments that CHED recognizes as Centers of Excellence. These are their Information Technology Department and their Chemical, Civil, Electrical, Mechanical, Computer, Electronics, and Sanitary Engineering Departments.

University of San Carlos

Image from Wikipedia.

The University of San Carlos in Cebu is one of the most prestigious schools in the Visayas area, ranking first out of all higher education institutions in Central Visayas. Their board exam passing rates are also exceptionally high, with a 95% passing rate in the CPA Licensure Exam, 94% in the Electronics Technicians Board Exam, 92% in the Pharmacist Licensure Exam, and a constant 92% in the Chemical Engineer and Mechanical Engineer Licensure Exams. LocalPulse reports 8 CHED Centers of Excellence and 12 Centers of Development in USC. These are their Business Administration and Entrepreneurship Departments, their Chemical and Mechanical Engineering Departments, their Physics Department, their Anthropology Department, and their Teacher Education Department.

Mindanao State University

Image from the MSU website.

Mindanao State University is currently the largest higher education institution in the south of the country, with seven campuses across the entire Mindanao region. Since MSU’s foundation in 1961, the young university rapidly flourished. Currently it has 3,100 faculty members and 53,000 students in all levels. One of the significant campuses of MSU is the Iligan Institute of Technology, which has 7 CHED Centers of Excellence. These are the Biology Department, the Chemistry Department, the Mathematics Department, the Physics Department, the Teacher Education Department, and the Electronics and Mechanical Engineering Departments.

Lyceum of the Philippines University

Image from the Manila Bulletin.

Founded in 1952 by  former president Jose P. Laurel, the Lyceum of the Philippines University strives to uphold their founder’s ideals through their Latin mission statements Veritas et Fortitudo (truth and fortitude) and Pro Deo et Patria (for God and country).  True to their goal of education for the advancement of the country, the Lyceum of the Philippines’s Business Administration Department, Customs Administration Department, Hotel and Restaurant Management Department, and their Tourism Department have all been awarded as CHED Centers of Excellence.

University of Asia and the Pacific

Image from the UA&P Website.

Initially established in 1967 as the Center for Research and Communication (CRC), the University of Asia and the Pacific is a relatively young institution that has certainly paved the way for academic learning in the age of globalization and international relations. Among their undergraduate programs in liberal arts and business, UA&P offers a 5-year degree program which condenses a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. These include Master of Arts in Integrated Marketing Communications, Master of Arts in Humanities, Master of Arts in International Relations and Development, Master of Science in Industrial Economics, and Master of Science in Management.

University of Santo Tomas

Image from the Manila Bulletin.

Established in 1611, the University of Santo Tomas is the oldest university in the country. With over 400 years of history and its long line of notable alumni, it has aimed to provide a consistent quality of education. UST has produced prestigious Filipino leaders and heroes such as José Rizal, Emilio Jacinto, Apolinario Mabini, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Sergio Osmeña, Diosdado Macapagal, and several other prominent figures in the Philippines’ past and present. UST has 12 Departments in the university that have been awarded as CHED Centers of Excellence. The university is most known for their medicine-related programs, such as the departments of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, and Medical Technology and Laboratory Science, and science-related programs such as the Departments of Chemistry, Biology, Psychology, and their Engineering Departments.

Ateneo de Manila

Image from CNN Philippines.

Since the Jesuits returned to the Philippines and founded the school in 1859, the Ateneo de Manila University has consistently shown academic excellence throughout its long history. The main campus of Ateneo de Manila holds 10 CHED-recognized Centers of Excellence, namely, the Business and Management Department, the Humanities Department, the Information Technology Department, the Science and Mathematics Department, and the Social and Behavioral Sciences Department. The university is also a member of the ASEAN University Network (AUN), an alliance between leading universities in the Southeast Asian region, which was created to facilitate multi-national collaborative research for the development of the region.

De La Salle University

Image from the Philippine Star.

In the same list provided by Times Higher Education for 2020, De La Salle University is the sole private higher education institution in the Philippines that holds a place in the 1000+ bracket. Also a member of the ASEAN University Network, the main campus of DLSU in Manila, as reported by LocalPulse, holds 14 CHED-accredited Centers of Excellence, with the university excelling in programs related to Business, Accounting, and Engineering.

University of the Philippines

Image from ABS-CBN News.

Known to the country as the home of a large number of Filipino leaders, artists, scientists, and the like, the University of the Philippines has produced top graduates since its foundation in 1908. Rappler reports that the country’s national university has produced 7 Philippine presidents, 13 chief justices, 36 national scientists, 40 national artists, and several other outstanding alumni who work in various professions both in and out of the country. The university is also a part of the ASEAN University Network, and has eight constituent university campuses across the country. UP Diliman is the UP System’s largest and most populated campus, and as of 2016 CHED has acknowledged 26 departments as Centers of Excellence in that campus alone.


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