Prof. Alvin A. Sario, LPT, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Arts, Sciences, and Education (CASE), added another post-nominal title to his name — FHEA or Fellow of Higher Education Academy, after successfully completing the Post-Graduate Course on Academic Practice (PGCAP) with merit at the University of Liverpool in England.

The PGCAP or the Post-Graduate Course on Academic Practice is a 60-credit program of the University of Liverpool focusing on authentic assessment, active learning, and experiential learning. It is also regulated by the Advance HE, a professional body that grants fellowship works with various universities across the globe to elevate higher education standards given the Professional Standards Framework. The PGCAP Program tackles Contemporary Approaches to Learning and Teaching; Alternative Approaches to Supporting Learning; Enhancing Teaching and Learning, and; Extending Higher Education Careers in a Global Context.

Where it all started
Everything began in 2020 when the University of the Philippines System (Los Baños and Open University) identified practitioners all over the Philippines with Doctorate degrees who work as administrators in higher education institutions and are teaching at the tertiary level. Among the 20 universities identified is the University of Santo Tomas-Legazpi represented by Dean Sario.

The journey did not come easy. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Prof. Sario braved his application by submitting his Curriculum Vitae, Professional Profile, and Recommendation from the Rector and President, before taking an online examination to which he emerged as a qualifier for fellow and senior fellow program.

Then came August 2022, the month he officially started his studies for the PGCAP Program, which required him to fly to the University of Liverpool in England to attend some in-person meetings. He completed the course in May 2023.

A lifetime responsibility
After completing the program and becoming a fellow, a lifetime responsibility awaits Professor Sario and his companions. He and his colleagues are expected to observe the Code of Fellows, initiate programs to further academic practice in higher education, engage in scholarship of teaching and learning not just scholarly teaching, and develop communities of practice in order to play an active role in effecting change in development education and improve student support learning and mode of teaching. This means that through their efforts and flagship programs, tertiary teachers in the country will now have to play an active role in engaging in research to improve their mode of teaching and facilitation of learning. This involves partnership with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the rest of the Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the country.

Recently, Dean Alvin together with his other fellows, mounted a Seminar-Workshop on Academic Practice (SWAP) under the Transformative Academic Practice for Higher Education in the Philippines (TAPHEP) Project at University of Santo Tomas- Legazpi. This served as an echo program where academic practitioners from the Bicol region convened at the University to share what the fellows learned using a Professional Standards Framework. The end goal of this is to create policies and programs to transform the higher education system in the Philippines.

Balancing act
Prof. Dr. Sario is in his third year as the Dean of the College of Arts, Sciences, and Education, where he teaches philosophy, social sciences, education, and research. In his twenty-four years in the university, he was able to publish sixty papers in reputable journals, delivered more than a hundred research presentations, crafted thirty-nine modules, and published eight reference books in philosophy, social sciences, and education, in the Philippines, East Asia, Western Europe, USA, and UK.

Passion, focus, and time management are the keys to do all his academic achievements. His time is divided into his administrative duties in the University, his academic course, and his research engagements in various agencies.

Greatest Takeaway
“Education is a lifelong process,” says Dean Sario when asked what his greatest takeaway from this program was.

“We need to have a principle of continuing learning and shift our point of view to that,” he added.

“No one has the monopoly of knowledge, everything is a process; we need to continue to share and learn from our respective practices and apply it in the academe,” he continued.

To push this mentality, Dean Alvin said that academic professionals need to construct, reconstruct, and deconstruct ideas to create a conceptual framework that the education of the country needs.

Heading to the future
After earning a merit and becoming a successful fellow in the PGCAP Program, Dean Alvin eyes spearheading two ventures: professional development and internationalization.

He would like to propose an upscaling of the professional development in the university to create foundations of strength to sustain the communities of practice the university has: curriculum development, instructional delivery, academic research, extension service, governance and management, spiritual and moral formation, and emotional development.

When these community practices are made strong, according to Dean Alvin, the second envisioned venture will be achieved – the long-awaited internationalization of UST-Legazpi.

“We shouldn’t just exist here in the province of Albay, or the Bicol region, or even in the Philippines,” said Professor Sario. Based on his exposure and experiences outside the institution, he thinks that the Legazpi Thomasians have the capacity to achieve internationalization.

“We just need to implement programs, projects, and activities to achieve professional development and internationalization. Should we be able to do these, we will have a newer and stronger impact as an institution of higher learning in the region, in the country, the ASEAN community, and even at the global level.”

Copyright 2019. University of Santo Tomas - Legazpi