Ever since its establishment, the University of San Carlos has achieved significant achievements making it one of the renowned universities not just in the Philippines but also in Asia.
On April 1, 2022, USC reached another milestone after it formally secured an ISO 9001:2015 certification from the British Standards Institution (BSI) at an online awarding ceremony. The recognition covered USC’s student support services on student welfare, student development, and institutional student programs.
BSI is recognized globally as one of the most experienced independent assessors of best practice and securing a certification signifies an institution’s clear achievement and competitive advantage.
Challenges in the journey
USC’s journey leading to this recognition had its own challenges. The University started building its Quality Management System (QMS) back in 2012. According to Presidential Assistance for Quality Assurance Engr. Irish Tejero-Dakay, they started working with very separate and distinct units. Hence, the first goal was to break the silos and integrate different units into one system. This led to the integration of departments involved in the entire student experience from admission to graduation.
Once the integrated system was in place, the QMS team restructured its activities into formative programs in preparation for the first cohort of the new Philippine educational system entering tertiary education. As part of the University’s commitment to stay true to its calling of providing an Education with a Mission, the newly developed programs were rationalized to address the formation dimension of Carolinian education, that is to inculcate soft skills in addition to hard skills training.
Thus, aside from core transformative programs, the University added electives for students who want to venture into more activities. These include leadership, sports development, research, peer facilitation, and volunteerism, among others.
Moreover, to ensure that the quality management system is working effectively, USC adopted peer auditing composed of ten internal quality auditors who constantly check on the processes involved. This proves to be effective as it helps the QMS continuously improve.
QMS expansion during the pandemic
Tough as it already was, the COVID-19 outbreak posed additional challenges. But as it turned out, the pandemic proved that USC’s current system is working.
“The pandemic showed our resilience because there was already a system running in and it was through the QMS that we ran the continuity management system. So while we were pulled out from our offices to stay in our homes, we were still able to run our programs,” Engr. Tejero-Dakay shared.
USC managed to transform its services online by introducing a virtual enrollment guide, Caloy on the Web, new payment centers and options, as well as webinars, among other digital services.
Another improvement made was the localization of the quality management system for student support and services to the Student Affairs and Services Office and team. This paved the way for the Presidential Assistant for Quality Assurance to expand the QMS and facilitate the establishment of a quality management system for the university’s resource management offices which include human resources, physical facilities, ICT infrastructure, knowledge/library resources, and finance.
The long and winding process proved to be a success after BSI awarded the prestigious ISO 9001:2015 certification to the University. According to University President Fr. Narciso A. Cellan Jr., SVD, D.Comm., this audit is a way of putting a system to USC’s efforts to become excellent and distinctive in the way it does things and in the way its processes are conducted.
This is, however, just the beginning of USC’s never-ending effort to provide quality education to its students.
As what Fr. Cellan imparted in his closing remarks, “This audit has been an eye opener for many of us. A kind of realization of what we still have to do. We’ve been assessed, we’ve been measured, some ways we have been found wanting. But we don’t lose heart because it’s giving us another encouragement to really perform better, do more, and at the same time, talk to one another more as one unit, as one family.”
by Syrine Gladys Podadera