IN CONVERSATION: UMak OIC President Takes the Lead Towards Internationalization

OIC President Elyxur C. Ramos presented the motivations and principles of the government-industry-academia partnership at The 9th Asian Conference on Education and International Development (ACEID) 2023 at Toshi Center Hotel, Tokyo, Japan last March 27-30, 2023.

To learn about his experience, we couldn’t pass up the chance to interview him.

These are the highlights of our conversation:

His Journey in Japan was fun…

“It was fun, actually. Japan is one of the countries that I, personally and my family love visiting. There’s always a new cultural experience… you are always in admiration with their public transportation and the people”

He also shared that one of the university’s partners, Mommy International School, extended their hospitality as they accommodated him and his family during their stay in Japan. The said partner employed some of our College of Education Alumni.

“To our surprise, when we saw the place where we will be staying it’s actually a three-story villa… located in Kamakura… a very historic city.”

He mentioned that Kamakura is the part of the background in the opening reel of the famous anime, SlamDunk.

Remarkable was the word to express as he did not just experience being involved in multicultural gatherings, he also had a great time with people close to his heart. Bringing his family made his adventure sweeter.

Their eyes were allured by the beauty of Japan. And one of the tourist destinations that gave them a dreamlike sight was Mt. Fuji which is widely known as Japan’s tallest peak.

“It was our first experience as a family to go up close to Mt. Fuji and it was a very surreal experience. The timing was really great because the cherry blossom or Sakura fest was starting, and you can see the trees were blooming with a lot of flowers. Plus, of course, being mystified by the mountain in the background and all the beauty of nature surrounding it is really something… memorable that we cannot just easily forget.”

Invitation to IAFor (International Academic Forum)

“I received an email invitation from ACEID for the IAFor conference and there were several conferences sponsored by IAFor. There was one in Singapore, in Tokyo, in Paris, and one in the United States, but sabi ko, the one I think closest among the topics that were listed… the one that really had one on educational management and leadership was the one conferenced in Japan. So, sabi ko, it’s a very good opportunity to go back to Japan so that was where I actually signed up.”

He said that when he submitted an abstract for the conference, it was approved. And right after he received the notice of approval, he was given an opportunity to review other participants’ papers as it is one of the requirements to be officially accepted to the event, for which he was grateful as he was able to help other participants.

His Network of Opportunities.

“Because of my previous experiences presenting paper[s] abroad, maybe my name was included in the database. In fact, as we actually speak right now, I have another invitation. This one is for a network of alumni of a former student of a foreign diplomatic mission in Germany… really what caught my attention nga was because it was going to be held in Tokyo… so sabi ko, this would be a perfect opportunity to submit a paper especially that we are gearing towards internalization, and also, really pushing for research to be a strong factor here in the university.”

LCU Representative for IAFor

“What they did was to actually bring in a lot of academics [to] talk about their ongoing and present research. So, when I arrived, the first part of the conference was actually poster presentations, and there were also paper presentations the following day. And there was also an online component. In fact… I was amazed because when I arrived there, there were actually several Filipinos also who attended the conference representing their institutions.”

He also stated that he was the only Filipino that represented a local university which made him extra proud.

Fostering Partnership in International Forum

“One of the things that actually caught my attention was these two academics from New Zealand, who were actually talking about their paper on coming up with a program for aging health care… and when they found out that I was also working in a university and that we have a nursing program, they actually engaged me with a lot of conversation because they know that the Philippines is the supplier of health care professionals and because New Zealand has also an aging population, in fact, they were also asking me, “Would you be willing to work on a joint research project?”… that is something significant that struck me. In fact, they gave me a paper of their initial research and they were telling me that maybe we can collaborate… work on something together.

And at the same time, we can probably work on a sister university arrangement. Of course, I take it that this is also one of the opportunities for them to be able to invite our student-nurses to be able to experience what it’s like to study nursing in New Zealand and at the same time to work there as a healthcare professional.” ‘

On his insights about the Industry Partners’ impact on Academic Institutions…

“You know my involvement in EDCom, right now. This is again one of the quality issues that is being talked about at EdCom, how do we engage the industry? And for me, really, the question that was really thrown at me during the presentation was basically the same question… that people are always amazed with us, how do you convince the industry to partner with academic institutions?… It’s actually breaking the walls. We, as an academic… we always considered ourselves to be the learned ones, but for the University of Makati, and that was the story that I was sharing, it’s very easy because we are not motivated by profit.

For us, education equals jobs. And when you talk about jobs, you cannot remove the employer in the equation of delivering quality education. So, it’s really like, the invitation is always there but the openness to be able to adjust to the industry’s needs should be there, as well. So one example that I was giving them when that question was asked was we adjust our curriculum, we adjust our schedule. Like if an industry practitioner says that I can only be available to teach once a week, only at this time, then we adjust. Because at the end of the day, the value that they contribute to our students and to our institution is really something that benefits our students especially when they seek employment later on.”

“Using Artificial Intelligence to our Advantage…”

“I always believe that technology and advancement in technology will always be there. It is something that cannot fight but rather that’s something that we should actually learn to work with. Even very early on, even during the time of Professor Lopez, he was a visionary, he was already saying that the only way to break the 50 students per one teacher ratio is to introduce technology, being able to hold classes remotely without boundaries of time and space, and being able to meet your students. It had to take a pandemic for us to be able to realize that yes, we can do this. Now, here comes artificial intelligence, ChatGPT, and there [are] a lot of other AI programs that are coming out right now. And there was actually a talk about whether these might replace teachers or what is the importance of going to school when you can actually just type it down or ask Google or ask ChatGPT to do these things for you. And this is where you have to strike a balance because you cannot just actually work on a person’s intelligence or IQ. I think one of the important aspects of being a teacher is actually developing a student’s character. And that is something that AI cannot just easily replicate… We should not be afraid of it but learn to use it to our advantage. Make it your friend, not your enemy.”

“It has to be a whole University Approach…”

“Well, that is really the plan. In fact, when I talked about the University of Makati being the first local university to be included in the world universities rankings or at least be recognized internationally, that will only happen if we have excellence in instructions, excellence in research, and excellence in extensions. And those three areas cannot just be done by the faculty members. It has to be a whole university approach. That means from the students, even from the admin staff, even from other stakeholders in the university, even the alumni. All of these are factored in. In fact, this morning, we had a ManCom meeting. We were even challenging our research director to come up with means and ways so that we have a mechanism to help support our students, especially our students who are able to produce quality research so that the research that they are able to produce… will not just be stacked in the books or some cabinets in the library but something that also be shared… If we are able to produce quality research even at the undergraduate level, they should also be given an opportunity to present this paper in other fora, wherein the university can also be cited… That is really part of the plan. Hindi lang locally but internationally, as well.

He also cited a World Bank report about the level of reading skills of young Filipinos, and even with that information, many Filipinos still have high satisfaction with our education. He explained that the reason is, we are not really exposed to the true value and definition of it. Hence, he strongly envisions letting our stakeholders see quality education through international immersion and higher-level settings.

Our conversation with OIC President Elyxur C. Ramos marked the realization of the achievements of the university in the past 51 years and his plans, together with the management committee. He hopes that his dreams for the university to be recognized in the international setting prevail.


Written and Shot by A. Miranda, L. Ugaddan, J. Grate / CIC