Online degree programs were first offered in the Philippines in the early 1990s, which saw a steady growth in the number of government and private institutions in the country. Also around this time, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), one of the three government organizations overseeing the country’s education system, encouraged many educational institutions to offer distance learning programs. This step was triggered by the growing population and the increase in enrollments in the tertiary sector in recent years.
1990s – Rise of the open universities
One of the recognized higher education institutions (HEI) offering online degree programs in the country is the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU), founded in 1995. OPOU is the pioneer of open and distance learning in the Philippines. Another well-known open university in the country is the Polytechnic University of the Philippines Open University (PUPOU). PUPOU started offering online courses in 1990. The Asian Institute for Distance Education (AIDE) is one of four state-approved distance learning providers in the country that offer full academic degrees. Other pioneers of online degree programs are the University of Santo Tomas (UST), the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) through the e-Learning Access Program and the Dela Salle University (DLSU). The online programs offered by these online universities include undergraduate programs, graduate certificate programs, post-baccalaureate programs, masters programs, and doctoral programs.
2000s – Technological advances in universities
The eLearning market begins to emerge in the Philippines in the early 2000s. The online courses offered up to then, however, are limited to certificate and vocational training. The government agency that supports these online programs is the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). Today, TESDA offers various online courses in the fields of IT, tourism, electronics, automotive, HVAC and agriculture as part of the so-called Technical Vocational Education (TVET). Although these programs only offer diploma and certificate courses, TESDA has ladderization programs from these courses to the degree programs.
At the turn of the millennium, internet technology gained in importance in the education system of the Philippines. This technological milestone gives way to more public and private universities offering online courses. According to a study, the number of Internet users increased by about 291% in the period 2000-2006, which corresponds to 7.82 million people. According to the Philippine ICT statistics portal, the mobile phone contract was more than doubled from 2006 to 2011 and the fixed line broadband connection more than quadrupled in the same period. According to StateUniversity.com, various public and private websites have also emerged offering online programs and services to students in higher education. These institutions include the Advanced Science and Technology Institute, Kodiko Online, 2StudyIt.com, Education for Life Foundation, Estudyante.com, FAPENET, Gurong Pahinugod, and Iskolar.com.
2010 – High economic growth impacts college programs
There are nearly 2,300 colleges in the Philippines, according to Business World Online, of which 1,259 offered business degrees in 2012. According to CHED, the number of enrollments in tertiary education reached 3.3 million in the same year. Based on Courses.com.ph, there are many postgraduate courses in the Philippines that can be taken online at various public and private colleges today. These are online courses in education, management and public administration, agriculture, media and communication, health and allied sciences, computer science, economics, and architecture and engineering.
The Expanded Tertiary Education Equivalency and Accreditation Program (ETEEAP) can be seen as one of the major breakthroughs in improving the offering of online degree programs in the Philippines. Under this program, students seeking a bachelor’s degree can complete their studies in about a year and also have the option of completing the program online at the accredited online colleges and universities.
Driven by the growing economy, more and more universities are now offering online degree programs for both Filipino and international students across the country. And with the educational programs from TESDA and CHED, online degree programs in the country are expected to continue to grow in the years to come.