June 25, 2024

The Insider News

Direct from the source

House probes influx of Chinese students in Cagayan

THE House Committee on Justice chaired by Negros Occidental Rep. Juliette Marie Ferrer on Wednesday proceeded with its inquiry into the surge of Chinese students enrolling in the country, particularly in Cagayan province.

Cagayan Rep. Joseph Lara asked for the inquiry when he filed House Resolution (HR) 1666, deeming it important amid tensions between China and the Philippines. 

Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante Jr. made a similar call via HR 1703.

Lara met with officials of the two leading universities in Tuguegarao City, as well as officials from the National Intelligence Coordinating Authority (NICA) in Region 2 and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) October last year to discuss the matter. 

According to him, the representative from the University of Saint Louis said that no Chinese student was enrolled in their school, due to a disagreement.

“Hindi pa sila nagkasundo ng ahente sa babayaran dahil isang milyon ang gusto nilang iparesibo ngunit P200,000 lang ang actual na babayaran,” he quoted the representative as saying. 

Lara shared that the Saint Paul University of the Philippines (SPUP) hosts an estimated 4,600 Chinese students since the start of their Nationalization Program in 2020 until 2023. 

According to Lara, SPUP targets to accept 10,000 Chinese students. 

“Iba’t ibang katanungan ang lumabas sa pagpupulong na iyun. At napagkasunduan na gawan na lang ng report ang kanilang mga kasagutan at nagtakda kami ng compliance meeting on Oct. 23, 2023. Pero hindi na po ito dinaluhan ng SPUP at USL,” he said.

Abante saw the issue as an opportunity to review relevant policies, particularly those of the Bureau or Immigration (BI). 

“We should determine how Chinese nationals and students entered the country, and if all the procedures and requirements from all concerned agencies of government were duly complied with,” Abante said. 

BI Commissioner Norman Tansingco traced the influx of foreign students to the government’s promotion of the country as a regional and global hub for education. 

He said a Memorandum of Understanding was signed before the pandemic between the CHED and the Chinese Ministry of Education facilitating bilateral cooperation on higher education.  

Tansingco also recalled former President Rodrigo R. Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping signing a Memorandum of Agreement on Higher Education and Cooperation in 2019. 

“These factors contributed to the increase of foreign students in the country not only Chinese nationals. During 2023, it was the time the country opened up after the pandemic, so nagbalikan po sa atin ang mga students who were not able to enroll because of the travel restrictions,” Tansingco said. 

He explained that under Executive Order (EO) 285, BI’s role and responsibility is to monitor the compliance of foreign students to their student visa. The visa requires all schools to submit reports to BI and CHED of their enrollees, copy furnished NICA and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). 

“Based on our records, all the schools have complied with their submission requirements. Very seldom that a school reports that these students have failing grades or did not continue schooling. In such case, we immediately cancel the visa and order the concerned foreigner to leave the country,” he said.

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Director Leilani Feliciano shared that the DFA is undertaking efforts to strengthen existing policies and procedures in the entry of foreign students in view of the national security considerations. These efforts include sharing relevant information to partner agencies, and reviewing visa conversion policies.

Feliciano reported that as of May 20, 2024, the DFA has issued a total of 67 9-F visas to Indian nationals with another 3,268 9-A temporary visas to Chinese nationals who applied in Philippine office/s  in China for conversion to 9-F student visas between the years 2022 and 2024.

CHED Executive Director Cinderella Filipina Benitez-Jaro said foreign students have been enrolling in the Philippines since 1985. 

For the past seven years, she said Indian nationals had the highest number of foreign students in the country, followed by the Chinese nationals, and then by the Nigerian nationals. Most Indian and Nigerian nationals are enrolled in medical-related programs.

Jaro said that for academic year 2022 to 2023, the top three foreign students enrolled in Philippine HEIs were Indians, at 9,680; Chinese, 5,921; Nigerians, 799. 

Most Chinese students are enrolled in the National Capital Region (NCR) followed by Region 2. During academic year 2023-2024, she said the top three nationalities enrolled in HEIs are Indians, 8,973; Chinese, 5,334; and Nigerians, 838.

She said based on data gathered, SPUP had the highest number of Chinese foreign students during the pandemic after CHED allowed online modality for foreign students of selected HEIs, including autonomous and deregulated HEIs which include SPUP.