Open universities offer opportunities for Filipinos to juggle work, academics

In Photo: The Freedom Plaza and the North Wing of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines’s Main Academic Building.


THE Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) has claim over being “the first open learning institution in the country”.

It began offering nondegree (technical-vocational) courses in the 1970s, until it formally established the PUP Open University (PUP-OU) in 1990, some five years earlier than the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU).

And while both are state-run universities, the PUP-OU pales in terms of resources and use of information and communications technology (ICT) when set against UPOU. But it does offer a terrifically low tuition scheme. PUP-OU tuition comes at only P100 per unit, as compared to UPOU’s P1,000 for every unit.

The PUP-OU, likewise, does not have the wide, spacious and impressive campus of the UPOU. Located in PUP Santa Mesa, the PUP-OU is housed on the fourth floor of the old Ninoy Aquino Library and Learning Resource Center (the PUP main library).

Still, the PUP-OU enjoys a steady flow of incoming enrollees. On the average, each PUP-OU classroom has a total of 50 students for the first year alone. According to Dan Dalac, PUP-OU course specialist for Distance Education and a course tutor for the Institute of Non-Traditional Study Program (INSP), total enrollment in the previous semester (June to October) hit 3,000.

The INSP is one of three institutes that make up the PUP-OU. The other two are the Institute of Open and Distance Education/Transnational Education and the Institute of Continuing and Professional Development.

Dalac is a graduate of PUP-OU, taking two degrees from 2013 to 2015. He finished Bachelor of Journalism in 2013 at the PUP-OU School of Professional Studies, now referred to as the INE. Then he took and finished his Masters in Communication in 2015 at the PUP-OU Institute of Open and Distance Education (IODE).


STUDENTS wishing to enter the PUP-OU are required to take entrance exams. “It is usually given before the opening of classes, during the summer season, around April,” Dalac told the BusinessMirror, adding that a second batch of examinees is set if the enrollees are too many.

For masteral courses, the examination is held every semester, he added. Registation is online, with P500 as registration fee.

Classes are held online or off-line (face-to-face). Offline sessions are conducted every Saturday. Offline sessions are held  on campus or at the PUP-OU learning centers.

“Online sessions occur in between offline sessions. It’s a virtual classroom setup,” Dalac explained. “We use Yahoo! groups for student-teacher communication. The faculty posts the lessons using software.”

He said there are also videos, “but these are not interactive.” During online sessions, students are expected to read prescribed references and supplemental materials.

Every semester, a lecture-forum is conducted with invited speakers who are distinguished professionals and experts in their field.

It is called the International Seminar on Adult Learning and International Seminar on Distance Education, equivalent to 24 units per seminar, Dalac said.


DALAC said students who turned professional but failed to obtain a college degree, can now finish their studies under the PUP-OU’s Expanded Tertiary Education Equivalency and Accreditation Program (Eteeap).

The program is open to rank-and-file professionals who wish to finish their college studies, Dalac added.  The Eteeap offers the undergraduate-degree programs in different fields. (See sidebartop04-111616

A returning student who wishes to avail of the Eteeap should file a letter of application to the PUP-OU indicating his or her accomplishments after leaving the university. These accomplishments should be related to the course applied for and it should come with a minimum of five years employment record.

Relevant documents, such as a certificate of employment, certificates of trainings attended and facilitated, as well as articles published and modules or other work-related materials produced should be submitted to the PUP-OU.

The compendium of accomplishments will then be evaluated by the PUP-OU program coordinator, who will then determine, which subjects the returning student still needs to take and which subjects have passed accreditation, based on the student’s accomplishment record.


ONCE enrolled, a tutor will be assigned for each subject.

“You will connect to the tutor via e-mail and he will inform you about the subject’s requirements,” Dalac said, adding that the tutor will also give a deadline for completion of said requirements. There are no lectures, only term papers, research papers and reflection papers.

“Students have one year to complete their requirements. Sometimes a teacher requires a hard copy to be sent by the student, other than the electronically submitted copy,” Dalac explained. “So the student gives their relatives or friends a special power of attorney to submit requirements in their behalf.”

In 2007 the PUP-OU launched the Open University Learning Management System (PUP-OU-LMS, or eMabini), where the faculty of the OU can hold classes online for Filipino students in the United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, Singapore and Vietnam.

The PUP-OU is an accredited member of the International Council on Distance Education (ICDE). It has been recognized by the Unesco Asia Pacific Knowledge Base on Open and Distance Learning since 2003. And like UP, the PUP-OU is also an accredited member of the Asian Association for Open Universities (AAOU).


ONE other difference that the UPOU has over PUP-OU is the Massive Open Online Courses  (MOOCs). These are open online courses where no course fees are charged and there are no admission requirements. Anyone who wants to learn can enroll in these courses.

Some of the MOOCs courses offered are geared toward training manpower for the BPO industry (with IBPAP and funding from the Asian Development Bank) and for child rights promotion and protection (with Unicef-Philippines).

Other courses include Fundamentals of Business Process Management, Service Culture, Systems Thinking, Business Communication, Child Rights Protection and Promotion courses.

The UPOU currently has ongoing MOOCs for Wika (language), Kasaysayan at Kultura (history and culture) and Philippine Culture and the Arts (under the category eFilipiniana).



  1. For PUP NTSP, if their tutor is only for 1 subject… does that mean that they allow students to take the multiple subjects to finish in a month just to quickly finish their studies and graduate?


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