More than 100 nursing schools open despite government ban

By Andrew Jonathan Bagaoisan And Mark Angelo Ching Vera Files 

First of two parts 

Nursing schools all over the country will be opening their doors this week to thousands of students with the great white cap dream—getting a nursing degree, working in a hospital abroad, and earning a comfortable living. 

But not all these schools are qualified to offer the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. In fact, some of them were supposed to have been shut down years ago for failing to meet the requirements of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), while some new ones were not supposed to have opened at all. 

The fact is, many students are spending their parents’ hard-earned money on substandard nursing education because the commission has been unable to weed out the poorly performing nursing schools. 

In 2004, the commission declared a moratorium on the opening of more nursing schools after professional nurses complained that nursing schools were sprouting like mushrooms, even as more students were failing the nursing licensure exams. The problem reached tipping point in 2006 when news of a leakage in the exams made headlines. 

But political and business pressures exerted on the commission have been preventing it from effectively regulating nursing schools and closing down those that perform badly. 

Commission records show that from 2004 to 2007, more than 120 schools began offering nursing courses compared to only 98 new schools in the same time span before the moratorium. A total of 459 nursing schools operate in the country today. 

The agency’s officials revealed that the Commission even allowed more schools to open by continually processing pending applications. As recent as August 2008, the agency exempted certain schools from the moratorium through a verbal agreement among the commissioners. The Commission did not make this agreement public. Even now, a number of schools are reportedly applying to open, one of them with up to 17 new campuses.

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