The Philippines already attracts significant attention from college students from around the world. Now comes news that the country may soon become an even more compelling destination thanks to one lawmaker’s push to allow the best international universities to establish campuses there. Here’s a closer look at the development, as recently reported by the Manila Bulletin.

Angling for a Piece of the Pie

Surigao del Sur 2nd district Rep. Johnny Pimentel, who heads up the House committee on good government and public accountability, has proposed the Higher Education Internationalization Act, AKA House Bill (HB) 3165, which will enable international schools to establish branches in the Philippines.

Says Pimentel, “Considering that we are already drawing in a growing number of students from South Korea, India, Iran and China, we should capitalize on the hosting of international students to generate hundreds of millions of dollars every year for our economy...Getting some of the finest schools in the United States and elsewhere to run extension campuses here is the quickest way for us to capture a bigger slice of the global international student population now estimated at 4.6 million.”

Pimentel is also pushing for the abolition of a provision in the country’s 1987 Constitution which restricts foreign ownership within the higher education system. BUHAY Partylist Rep. Lito Atienza, who is in favor of eliminating the restriction, told the Manila Bulletin, “We continue to prohibit foreign control of Philippine schools, and yet we send some of our brightest children to study abroad. We might as well allow the best foreign institutions of higher learning to set up wholly owned subsidiaries here.”

Why the Philippines?

Under the new bill, foreign universities seeking to set up campuses must simply obtain licenses to conduct business in the Philippines from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as well as authority to operate from the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd).

According to Pimentel, the addition of offshore campuses of international universities, business schools and technological institutes will strengthen the Philippines’ appeal. “Our advantages include our strategic location and welcoming culture, plus our proficiency in English, which is not only the language of instruction, but also the language of business and technology,” he insists.