UP Broadens Its Horizons

| Written by Jo. Florendo B. Lontoc

While everyone wants a UP in his or her own backyard—the System now has eight constituent universities spread around the country from Baguio to Davao—the national university clearly can’t be as national as it could possibly be, given its limited resources.

That said, it’s done its best to serve as many corners of the archipelago as it reasonably could, without compromising the high standards of teaching it’s been known for. Thus were established campuses to serve the major island groups of Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao, and recently, cyberspace.

UP was born in Manila in 1908, but that main campus was soon followed by others in Diliman, which then mothered campuses in Baguio City, Olongapo City, and Clark, Pampanga. UP Visayas comprised campuses in Cebu City, Iloilo City, Miag-ao, and Tacloban (UP Cebu is now on its own). UP Mindanao and the UP Open University were both established in 1995. (While “campus” refers to the physical locale, a “constituent university” or CU can cover several campuses.)

These CUs and campuses were designed to meet the particular needs of their region. For example, UP Visayas developed fisheries and ocean sciences to serve the major livelihoods of the island group; UP Mindanao developed agricultural supply chain management to facilitate the island’s massive agricultural activity; and UP Baguio developed indigenous studies to document indigenous culture in the Cordilleras.

UP has of course also expanded the basis of academic specialization, as in the case of UP Los Baños, which was established to focus on agriculture, forestry and veterinary medicine, and UP Manila in the health sciences. UP Manila then began establishing schools on a geographical basis to provide health skills where they were lacking. Thus, the schools of health sciences in the remote areas of Baler, Aurora in Luzon; Palo, Leyte in the Visayas; and Koronadal City, South Cotabato in Mindanao.

Recently, with the mandate to aid in national economic development now explicitly in its charter, UP set out to focus on key development areas expected to be growth catalysts through innovations in the professions and in industry. And so the UP Professional Schools were established in Bonifacio Global City and UP Cebu’s campus in the city’s South Road Properties (SRP). Both locations are hubs of booming industries and economic activities with a national economic impact.

Either in the final stages of planning or in initial stages of operation are campuses in Vista City in southern Metro Manila; the Agriya agricultural city in Panabo, Davao del Norte; and Clark Green City in Pampanga—all being built under the same academe-industry-community framework for national development.

The new campus being built in Sta. Elena, Tacloban City will serve as a relocation site for the UP VisayasTacloban College and the UP Manila School of Health Sciences in Palo, Leyte, offering a safer place than their current locations, where they were laid to waste by Super Typhoon Yolanda. But it will benefit from design and planning guidelines crafted by the University.

The UP Professional Schools at Bonifacio Global City. Photo by UP MPRO.

UP Vista City

UP Vista City is in the center of the Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) industry growth area and its “technology ecosystems.”

The UP campus hopes to fill the gap in knowledge capital necessary to catalyze an “ecology” for technology development in the area, says Dr. Aura Matias, the chair of the technical working group developing the campus and former dean of the UP Diliman College of Engineering. The campus is envisioned as the innovation campus of UP.

Its curricular and technology business incubation offerings will be suited to the needs of the industrial complexes in the area, particularly the need to level up to local demand and global competition.

The campus began its first phase with the inauguration of its “seed” facility at the Evia Lifestyle Center, Las Piñas on January 27, 2017. Called the UP @Lab Innovation Hub, donated by Vista Land and Lifescapes Inc. of the Villar family, it offers working spaces to start-up technopreneurs and facilitates their linkage with industry and markets. At least four locators were introduced during the inauguration.

The innovation hub was established to attract and employ prospective engineering graduate students through technology business start-ups. They can take technology entrepreneurship and design engineering courses in the initial academic zone to be built for the new campus. In this zone, the campus will offer a Professional Engineering and Science master’s program, the first of its kind in the country.

The technical working group consists of experts from the UP Diliman College of Engineering and Vista Land and Lifescapes Inc. It is supported by the Department of Science and Technology, USAID-STRIDE, the UP College of Business Administration Alumni Association, and industry partners.

UP Agriya

UP, Anflo Management and Investment Corp. (Anflocor) and its affiliate DamosaLand Inc. (DLI) formally entered into a contract on January 30, 2017 to establish the UP Professional School for Agriculture and the Environment (UP PSAE), an extension of UP Los Baños, in the Agriya mixed-use development area of Panabo City, Davao del Norte.

According to the MOA, Anflocor will donate more than three hectares of land, buildings, and facilities to UP, which will offer UPLB graduate courses and short courses through the school. Initially, starting academic year 2017-2018, UPLB faculty will have to fly back and forth between UPLB and Mindanao to teach. The residential phase—when the school will have its own faculty and staff to offer course—is expected to begin in six years.

The UPLB Graduate School and the College of Agriculture are already conducting an off-campus MS Entomology program at the Anflocor Corporate Center in Davao City. The UPLB College of Public Affairs and Development is also offering a PhD in Development Studies program in UP Mindanao in Mintal.

With its huge agricultural, fishery, and forestry output, which has gained brighter prospects with new infrastructure and access to ASEAN, Mindanao could use expertise that can be provided by UPLB to manage growth and make it inclusive.

According to the project concept paper, accredited postgraduate programs in Mindanao schools comprise mainly basic sciences and engineering. UP PSAE will help address the need for master’s and doctoral programs more focused on agriculture and environmental science.

Initially, these will include Master of Science programs in Agricultural Economics, Agronomy, Animal Science, Development Communication, Entomology, Environmental Science, Food Science, Forestry (Wood Science and Technology), Horticulture, Plant Breeding, and Plant Pathology; Master of Management in Agribusiness Management and Entrepreneurship; Master of Forestry (Forest Resource Management), and Doctor of Philosophy in Development Studies.

The industry demands of the area, together with enrolment data, will be studied further to tailor-fit future education, research, and extension offerings of the professional school.


Construction of the Clark Green City (CGC) formally started with the ground-breaking ceremony on April 11, 2016, and UP, through a campus in the master-planned community, is expected to build up human capital to drive the city and Region III’s growth.

According to former UP President Alfredo Pascual, the UP-CGC campus will implement innovations in education crafted by top world universities, consisting of harmonizing disciplines and seamless academe-government-industry collaboration, in order to build human capital for the country’s development. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), National University of Singapore (NUS), and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) have innovative academic and research programs that integrate various disciplines such as health sciences, environmental sciences, public policy, resource systems, engineering, business and management, Pascual said.

The UP Board of Regents approved the memorandum of agreement between UP and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), the developer of CGC, on July 22, 2015, through which BCDA allocates 70 hectares in CGC for the use of the University.

If plans push through, UP-CGC will offer one undergraduate Liberal Arts program and professional masters programs in Health Management, Sustainability Science, and Structural Analytics, under a College of Human Sciences, a College of the Natural Environment, and a College of Designed Environments.

UP is also planning to broaden its internationalization efforts in CGC through joint programs with top universities in the world, similar to what other national universities in ASEAN countries are doing. They enrich academic offerings through joint degree programs, attract international students, promote faculty exchanges, and facilitate collaborative research.

BCDA envisions the 9,450-hectare Clark Green City as a modern metropolis with mixed residential, commercial, agro-industrial, institutional and information technology development, as well as a community of residents, workers and business establishments within a balanced, healthy, and safe environment.

All expansion projects of UP are coordinated with the Office of Design and Planning Initiatives under the Office of the Vice President for Development. It is tasked with formulating Master Development Plans for UP System properties and the different CUs, define the distinctive UP character that will be integrated into buildings and landscapes to be designed and constructed within University premises, ensure efficient use of facilities, and move towards the realization of green sources of energy, among others.


Email the author at upforum@up.edu.ph.