Petition granted: 37 Eng’g students to graduate July

What you need to know:

  • The Department of Mining, Metallurgical and Materials Engineering allowed its batch of graduating students to take Materials Engineering (MatE) classes without requisites, following a new curriculum approved by the BOR in 2020.
  • But the BOR-approved curriculum failed to reflect the changes, such as dissolved requisites and new class codes for the MatE classes. Thus, the Committee on Student Admission, Progress and Graduation (CSAPG) did not credit the graduating students’ MatE classes.
  • Following a rejected petition from the students on June 17, the CSAPG overturned its decision on June 22 and allowed the 37 engineering students to graduate next month.

An appeal to waive elective requisites for 37 graduating Metallurgical (MetE) and Materials Engineering (MatE) students was approved by the Committee on Student Admission, Progress, and Graduation (CSAPG) on June 22, allowing the students to graduate in July.

This decision overturns CSAPG’s June 17 verdict denying a petition from graduating students of the Department of Mining, Metallurgical, and Materials Engineering (DMMME) to credit five MatE electives that they took without the requisite classes.

Had the decision not been rescinded, the students would have been delayed by at least a semester and miss the licensure exam in October.

The conflict in crediting the electives arose from the department’s mistakes in revising its curriculum, DMMME Chair Associate Professor Candy Mercado told TNP.

Following the K to 12 program, the DMMME shortened in 2019 its five-year MatE and MetE curricula to four years, altering the requirements for at least five MatE classes.

In the new MatE curriculum, core subjects MatE 131 (Polymeric Materials), MatE 151 (Composite Materials) and MatE 183 (Construction Materials) were converted into electives — optional classes that the students can take. The requisites for these classes were dissolved into the program’s other core classes.

MatE 197 (Special Topics), which remained an elective after the curriculum update, had its year standing requirement changed from fifth year to fourth year. MatE 11 (Fundamentals of Material Engineering) was also added in MetE’s new curriculum.

The Board of Regents (BOR) approved these curriculum changes in January 2020. 

But what the department submitted to the BOR contained an oversight which failed to update course numbers for the dissolved MatE 131, 151 and 183 requisites, and the required year standing to take MatE 197. The department also overlooked the requisites for MatE 11, which was added in the MetE curriculum.

To rectify these errors, the department submitted proposals in September 2021 to revise the MatE and MetE curricula once again but university officials are yet to approve them.

With the corrected curricula stalled, the CSAPG declined the June 17 petition to credit the electives that students took starting AY 2019-2020 because of the lacking requisites.

But even until May, two months before graduation, this was all panning out without the students’ knowledge. Wynona Magnaye, a fourth-year MatE student, said the department did not warn them of any issues that may arise with the electives.

Noong registration ng second semester this academic year, may rumors pa lang. Kinuwestiyon namin ‘yun sa registration advisers, pero sinabi nilang ‘wag nang mag-worry,” Magnaye said.

Fourth year MetE student Riana Evangelista recalled that her uncredited MatE 11 class was not flagged even when she applied for graduation.

After a few weeks, clinarify ko with the college SRE (student records evaluator) kung wala na bang problems. Sabi ng SRE, okay na raw, wala nang problems sa curriculum,” Evangelista added.

Evangelista said that they were only asked by the MetE department to make an appeal letter to the CSAPG in May to credit the MatE 11 class she took.

A similar case

In July 2021, CSAPG dealt with a similar case from the DMMME when it flagged students who did not take requisites for electives.

Mercado said that in August 2021, the DMMME also appealed to the CSAPG to credit MatE 11, MatE 131, MatE 151 and MatE 183 classes without requisites.

In response, CSAPG granted the department’s appeal on Oct. 11, and credited the students’ MatE electives taken on or before A.Y. 2020-2021. The CSAPG decision did not name the students covered by their approval.

But while this case set a precedent to their 2022 petition, Mercado said that the rejection of this year’s request could be due to a stricter implementation of the curriculum.

Ang iniisip ko na point of view ng CSAPG, we were already given the time from July 2021 to now para ma-correct yung issue,” she added.

But for the students, the case was still ‘surprising’.

“If na-approve na nila yung first appeal, why not i-approve na rin yung second given na same lang naman sila ng basis, same lang ng justification as in same na same yung case?” Magnaye said.

Mercado explained to TNP the process that the department had undergone before shortening the MatE and MetE programs to four years.

The curriculum revision started with a working group composed of faculty members across the department’s programs, specifically BS Metallurgical Engineering, BS Materials Engineering and BS Mining Engineering. 

After passing various committees, the University Council (UC) approved the BS Materials Engineering and BS Metallurgical Engineering curricula on February 18, 2019 and July 15, 2019, respectively. 

The BOR only approved the two curriculum guides by January 2020, but the students of DMMME were already following the new four-year curriculum as early as the second semester of AY 2018 to 2019.

Mercado asserted that the Office of the University Registrar (OUR) and the UC secretariat were aware that the new curriculum will take effect by 2019 as they uploaded the subjects in the university’s Computerized Registration System (CRS).

When asked if the OUR raised concerns during the review of the curricula, the DMMME chair said that the department assumes responsibility in overlooking updates for course numbers of requisites.

Corrective actions

Before the CSAPG overturned its decision, Mercado said the department offered the students three new electives which they could take in lieu of the uncredited courses. She added that the new subjects were already made available in CRS.

While the students understood that the issue could be resolved by taking the proposed classes, they still felt at loss that the only options were to take their chances on the CSAPG decision, follow OUR and take the prerequisites, or take the department’s new electives.

Malaki ‘yung panghihinayang sa’min kasi we did everything right. As the department has told us and as we know, we were just following their curriculum, we were just following their instructions,” Magnaye said. “We are 100% not involved here.” 

Evangelista said they pushed through with the request to reconsider the CSAPG decision even though it was “very risky.”

The consequences

The prospect of not graduating in July has also delayed other plans for the affected students. For Evangelista, the delay would disrupt their supposed preparation for the MetE board exams.

The MetE boards are usually held every October. In the October 2021 exams, the passing rate for the MetE board was 52.63%. This year, the exam will be on Oct. 7 and the deadline for applications is on Sept. 5.

If we won’t be able to take the boards this year, we would have to wait for another year pa since madalas once a year lang ang boards,” Evangelista said.

Magnaye said graduating on time mattered to them for emotional and practical reasons.

Yung emotional side kasi, naghirap kami for four years… Some of us really had to overload [or] take extra midyear…’Yung effort na magstay on track, ‘yung effort na maka-graduate kami on time, dun kami manghihinayang,” Magnaye said. 

On the practical side, Magnaye said the delays would affect students who were already looking for jobs, preparing for graduate studies or starting their internships.

Mercado extended her apologies to the affected students, emphasizing their openness to dialogue and willingness to help the graduating students.

Evangelista said she feels ‘very relieved’ that the CSAPG had overturned its decision, saying she is grateful to student formations for amplifying the issue, and to the department for helping them get the matter resolved.

For Magnaye, the approval of their appeal means she can tune her focus to life after college. 

“The stress over the past few days is gone and we feel so rewarded in our efforts in writing the letters and contacting offices,” she said.