In our country, three universities are held at higher esteem than others: the University of the Philippines, the Ateneo de Manila University, and the De La Salle University. They are held in such acclaim, in fact, that we refer to them as “The Big Three”. But why is that? 

1. The QS World University Ranking

The QS World University rankings employ different criteria, like academic reputation, to determine the best universities in the world. These three universities constantly attain the highest rank among Philippine institutions on the list. 

Academic reputation, according to the website of  QS World University Ranking, “collates the expert opinions of over 94,000 individuals in the higher education space regarding teaching and research quality at the world’s universities.” This accounts for 40% of a university’s score in the ranking, which is the largest component. If a university scores high in the world rankings, then it is because many academics internationally believe these universities offer high-quality education. This belief will become popular among the public. As a result, a high-ranking university will be known as one of the best tertiary institutions, if they are high on the list.

2. Employers

Employers also tend to favor applicants from the “Big Three” for they believe in that these universities will produce the kind of employees they need. In a survey of 500 companies conducted by Jobstreet last year, the top 10 list of universities they hire from included UP, Ateneo, and La Salle.

In the Philippines, where the job market is extremely competitive, a university that produces highly-employable graduates is more appealing to students. Education should be more than just mere preparation for employment, but due to the need to earn a living, especially in this economy, employability is still important, for it opens new opportunities for graduates.

3. History

Among the universities in the Philippines, the big three are among the oldest (only UST is older). Ateneo was established in 1859 by the\ Jesuits during the late Spanish period, while UP was established by the American colonial government in 1908. DLSU, on the other hand, was founded by the Brothers of the Christian Schools in 1911.

Due to their long history, these universities have educated some influential figures in Philippine history. For example, the Ateneo de Manila was the alma mater of national hero Jose Rizal, who would remember Ateneo fondly, even during his final moments. On the other hand, famous physician Fe Del Mundo earned her medical degree in the University of the Philippines, while historian Ambeth Ocampo attained his AB and MA degrees in Philippine Studies from De La Salle University.

This history of producing notable alumni helps us view these universities in a higher light. We all want to be like them- notable, but more importantly, successful in our respective fields.

4. Centers of Excellence and Development

These universities are among those with the most Centers of Excellence and Centers of Development in the country. These distinctions are awarded by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED). Centers of Excellence, as defined by CHED’s website, are “department[s] within a higher education institution, which continuously demonstrates. excellent performance in the areas of instruction, research and publication, extension and linkages and institutional qualifications. On the other hand, a “Center of Development (COD) refers to a department within a higher education institution, which demonstrates the potential. to become a Center of Excellence (COE) in the future.”

In short, what being awarded a COE or a COD means that these universities’ program for said department is better than other universities. This will indeed have a say on how a student will choose his/her college/university and the major he/she will take in said college/university.

The “Big 3” Are Big For A Reason

So there you have it. The next time you wonder why the big three are held with such acclaim, it’s not just because of passed down beliefs. There are reasons for it and they still stand. In a way, it can be said that these universities can but their money where their mouths are, and back up their claims to be the best. As a result, they will always produce great minds who can make a difference in their respective fields. Hopefully, you can be one of these great minds, and we at AHEAD are ready to help you get there.

Edited by Daniel Francisco P. Del Rosario

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