The British Council and the Commission on Higher Education sent off the first cohort of enrolees for the Joint Development of Niche Programme through Philippines-UK Linkages (JDNP) in a simple ceremony last 13 September at the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig.

Comprising of 21 faculty members, the set of enrolees are bound for their first part of transnational education study in the UK. These postgraduate dual and joint degree enrolees are funded under the JDNP and are the pioneers of the Philippine government’s initiative to enhance higher education and research agenda.

Jointly funded by the Commission on Higher Education and the British Council, JDNP will provide students and professionals with internationally recognised academic qualification on niche disciplines not currently available in the country. To date, there are 18 joint and dual degrees developed in partnership between ten Philippine universities and nine UK higher education institutions. These degrees are anchored on the country’s national priorities, and the students are expected to develop long-term and sustainable solutions to these national priorities.

Public health is one of these national priorities. Clarenz Concepcion, an instructor at the UST Faculty of Pharmacy and enrolled in the MSc Public Health programme with University of Leeds, noted that global warming affects human health and has contributed to the rise of health risks worldwide.

'These are all of public health concern and these simply illustrate the need for bolder and more progressive governance in the public health sector. The matters of climate change, disaster risk management, the global epidemic of communicable and non-communicable diseases, and the lack of mental health care in the world truly require the best of attentions that public health has to offer.' Concepcion says in his speech at the send-off. 'These are the concerns that drive us to pursue and be engaged in the field of public health. We don’t want to settle on the curative aspect of health alone. We want to give emphasis on the preventive standpoint. We want to work with communities and the population at large. We want to implement large scale solutions. We want to be engaged. We want to give an impact.'

Concepcion also adds that a UK education opens up opportunities for Filipinos working in the local healthcare industry to become globally-competitive practitioners.

He adds: 'It is of confidence and great expectation to declare that through this programme, Master in Public Health International, opportunities to become active players in the industry is at hand. It is truly a reachable vision that we finally become the frontrunners, practitioners, researchers, scholars, and educators who are more than capable to develop real-world, global-level solutions to fight the most intractable public health issues.'

Concepcion joins other 20 students from five Philippine universities, as follows:

1. University of San Carlos and Cardiff Metropolitan University | Masters in Arts and Design

  • Bea Therese Bajarias
  • Jemmalyn Borces
  • Stephanie Danielle Tudtud

2. University of Santo Tomas and University of Reading | PhD Architecture/Built Environment

  • Arch. David Yu
  • Arch. Brian Chiu
  • Arch. Joey de Vera
  • Arch. Armel Andre Bonifacio
  • Arch. John John Ong

3. University of Santo Tomas and University of Leeds | Masters in Public Health International

  • Iris Hyacinth Evelyn B. Alonso
  • Clarenz Sarit C. Concepcion
  • Joseree-Ann Catindig, MD
  • Irene Salve J. Vergara, MD
  • Marlon Mallillin
  • Diana Leah M. Mendoza

4. University of the Philippines Diliman – Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology and University of Reading

  • Ritche Nuevo
  • Bernard Alan Racoma
  • Rafaela Jane Delfino

5. University of the Philippines Los Banos and University of Reading | PhD By Research

  • Emmanuel Genesis T. Andal
  • Richard B. Daite
  • Aldo Gavril T. Lim
  • Guinevere T. Madlangbayan