The Catholic University of the Philippines, at the threshold of its quadricentennial celebration

By the year 2011, the University of Santo Tomas (UST) will commemorate its quadricentennial anniversary, a celebration of 400 years of commitment in the pursuit of truth through the production, advancement, and transmission of knowledge, for the formation of competent and compassionate professionals, committed to the service of the church, the nation, and the global community.

Founded in 1611, UST is considered as the oldest university in the Philippines, even older by 25 years than Harvard University, the oldest university in the United States.

It is also the only Pontifical university in Asia and in terms of the number of students in one campus, the largest Catholic university in the world. As of the Academic Year 2008-2009, UST has a student population of almost 40,000.


Since 1611, UST has dedicated itself to the formation of men and women as leaders of society and the Church, producing canonized saints and martyrs, national heroes, church leaders, four Philippine presidents, outstanding doctors, lawyers, engineers, educators, architects, artists, journalists, literary masters, businessmen, accountants, and more professionals who have significantly contributed to the shaping of Philippine history and the development of the Church, the Filipino society, and the region and the international communities as a whole.


In 397 years, UST has remained steadfast in its commitment to educate young men and women into competent, committed, and compassionate professionals. This is done through the five clusters of discipline: Science and Technology; Arts and the Humanities; Education and the Social Sciences; Medicine and Health, and the Ecclesiastical Faculties – spread over 19 faculties, colleges, and institutes.

Its harvest of excellence in the licensure examinations is bountiful, not only in the number of topnotchers, but also in the higher-than-average national passing rates. The Professional Regulation Commission recognizes UST as a Top Performing School evidenced by board examination results for various fields.

In the 2008 licensure examinations, UST graduates emerged topnotchers in the following disciplines:

• Architecture – First placer and six in the Top Ten. Passing rate of 68 percent, while the national passing average is 41.28 percent.

• Medical Technology – First placer and six in the Top Ten. Passing rate of 94 percent, while the national passing average is 66 percent.

• Medicine – Second placer and six in the Top Ten. Passing rate of 95 percent, while the national passing average is 60 percent.

• Nursing – First placer and 29 in the Top Ten. Passing rate of 98 percent, while the national passing average is 43 percent.

• Nutrition and Dietetics – First placer and five in the Top Ten. Passing rate of 94 percent, while the national passing average is 52 percent.

• Occupational Therapy – First placer and nine in the Top Ten. Passing rate of 84 percent, while the national passing average is 48 percent.

• Pharmacy – Second placer and eight in the Top Ten. Passing rate of 83 percent, while the national passing average is 56 percent.

• Physical Therapy – First placer and seven in the Top Ten. Passing rate of 98 percent while the national passing average is 48 percent.


Never to rest on its laurels, UST welcomes evaluation by peers and external agencies through the regular accreditation of its academic programs by the Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities Commission on Accreditation (PACUCOA), and the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges, and Universities (PAASCU).

Among its Level III accredited programs are: B.S. Biology, B.S. Microbiology, B.S. Chemistry, BS Mathematics, and B.S. Psychology under the College of Science, B.S. Pharmacy under the Faculty of Pharmacy; and A.B. Economics, A.B. Legal Management, A.B. Literature, and A.B. Philosophy under the Faculty of Arts and Letters.


The Commission on Higher Education (ChED) recently granted the UST College of Education the recognition of being a Center of Excellence in Teacher Education. This recognition appends to the university’s previously awarded Centers of Excellence (COE) in the following disciplines: Architecture, Literature, Music, Philosophy, Chemistry, Medicine and Surgery, Nursing, and Electronics and Communications Engineering.

Meanwhile, UST also holds the distinction of being a Center of Development (COD) in the following fields: Biology, Business Administration, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Industrial Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering.

As a testament to its outstanding contribution to society, ChED also granted UST the institutional recognition of Autonomous Status Renewal. The university enjoys the distinction of being one of the first two academic institutions in the country to have been honored with the Philippine Quality Assurance (PQA) Award.


In June, the entire academic community gathers at the UST Chapel for the Mass of the Holy Spirit followed by the formal declaration of the opening of the Academic Year.

As part of the annual event, a distinguished UST official delivers the centuries-old Discurso de Apertura (opening lecture) to set the tone for the year’s academic mission.

UST welcomes its freshmen with an orientation program, and the Thomasian Welcome Walk, a rite of passage through the Arch of the Centuries, symbolizing that these, the youngest members of the Thomasian family, have now truly entered the university’s portals, as have generations of illustrious alumni before them.

Throughout the year, a host of activities, ranging from recollections and cultural events to academic fora and awarding ceremonies, are organized to provide a more vibrant campus life. Now on its sixth year, the UST Christmas Concert, has become a much-awaited early December cultural experience to usher in the Christmas season, not only for UST, but also for the city and the nation. It features the UST Symphony Orchestra, the only all- student orchestra and symphonic band in the country,the musical number of the world renowned UST Singers, which won the title of “Choir of the World” in a competition in Europe, the Coro Tomasino and Liturgikon, choirs from the Conservatory of Music, the Psalterion, the official choir of the UST Central Seminary, and the UST Grade School Choir.

The UST Salinggawi Dance Troupe, winner of six first place trophies in the UAAP cheer dance competitions, joins the musical performers. This year’s Christmas Concert is on Dec. 4.

Paskuhan is another University tradition where the entire Thomasian community celebrates Christmas with a Holy Mass and a program that is capped with fireworks display.

Every January 28th, there is a procession around the campus, along with a Eucharistic Celebration, to mark the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, the patron saint of the University.

Now on its fifth year, the UST Student Choice Awards is a pioneering endeavor of the university to recognize artistic excellence and Christian values in television programming.

In March, the graduating students take part in the Baccalaureate Mass and the post-mass program that includes the “ceremony of the light” where the Father Rector, Rev. Fr. Rolando de la Rosa, O.P., invites the graduates to look towards the UST cross atop the Main Building as a symbol that, as new UST alumni, they should share the Light with the world.


• Dangal ng UST for excellent performance of outstanding faculty members;

• Hiyas ng UST, for outstanding employees;

• The Outstanding Thomasian Alumni (TOTAL) Award, for distinguished alumni in various fields; and

• The Student Awards


As UST reaches closer to its quadricentennial (Q) anniversary celebration in 2011, plans to open satellite campuses in Santa Rosa, Laguna and another in General Santos City are being put in place.

Physical improvement on campus have changed the university’s ambience. The front area of the Main Building is now the lively Plaza Mayor, the venue of many university events. Behind it is the Quadricentennial Square, which will feature the Tetraglobal, a sculpture piece made by internationally famous Thomasian sculptor Ramon Orlina.

The Quadricentennial Alumni Walkway has along its sides the especially-designed tablets that will contain the names of alumni who will have contributed to the UST quadricentennial projects. On July 29, 2008, ground was broken for the construction of the UST Quadricentennial Sports Gymnasium, a state-of-the-art sports complex, with a 5,700 seating capacity.

Another quadricentennial project is the Teacher Education Scholarship program that aims to provide scholarship grants to deserving high school graduates from all over the country who would decide to take up Education as a college degree. The university believes that for real change to occur in society, it must invest on the education of the country’s future teachers.

The UST Publishing House is within 303 books of printing “400 books at 400″, a project to print 400 books in time for UST’s 400th birthday.


As an institutional leader in the service of education and values formation, UST has accumulated a wealth of experience and wisdom, a heritage of culture, a host of structures and physical facilities, andmost importantly, a community of great men and women who have left an indelible mark in Philippine and global societies.

And for the rest of the world, the celebration of the 400th year anniversary of UST will inspire people to the work that is done here on this 21.5-hectare sacred ground dedicated to truth and values.

Come 2011, Thomasians and friends around the world will declare in one voice: “Proud to be Thomasians at 400!”

Source: Manila Bulletin

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2 Responses to “Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas”  

  1. 1 karla borja

    proud to be a Thomasian. :)

  2. 2 Maria Victoria Barredo

    looking for friends in UST College of Nursing class 1976 -1980-81- please contact Maria Barredo through Facebook Adelaide Australia

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