Five UST graduate students flew to the United Kingdom (UK) to commence their doctoral studies in Architecture/Built Environment.

Arch. Armel Andre Bonifacio, Arch. Brian James Chiu, Arch. Joey de Vera, Arch. John John Ong and Arch. David Yu are the members of the pioneering batch of graduate students who will take up dual PhD in Built Environment/Architecture, a PhD by research program offered by the UST Graduate School (USTGS) and the University of Reading in UK (UoR). Established in 1892, UoR is currently ranked in the top 200 universities worldwide (QS World University Rankings 2018).

This PhD by research is delivered via distance education. There are no taught courses enrolled; however, it follows a certain structure that will allow the students to cope with the demands of the programme. Training is provided to the students before the start and while enrolled in the programme. Students can complete the degree in three years strictly observing the following phases: (1) Independent Study (Standard or PhD by distance) and Supervision; (2) Required Training Sessions; (3) Assessment and Monitoring; (4) Learning Needs Analysis; (5) Annual Assessments; (6) Confirmation of Registration; (7) Additional Training and (8) Viva (Final Defense).

Prior to acceptance to the program, the first cohort hurdled a rigorous training-workshop on Reading and Critiquing facilitated by the UST Graduate School Center for Continuing Professional Education and Development (USTGS-CCPED). They also attended a lecture-workshop conducted by a UoR professor, Prof. Lorraine Farelly on November 11, 2017. They also took and passed the IELTS exam with a band of 7.0 as required by UK HEIs.

The pioneering batch arrived in London on September 21 and settled in the UoR Students Residence. Their week at UoR was pretty busy for they were inducted by the UoR International Relations Officer at Whiteknights Campus, met with the School of Built Environment Vice Dean and the School of Architecture Dean (London Road Campus and with the UoR Supervisors), inducted to the library, held consultative meetings with their supervisors, inducted to the Graduate School, and attended workshops for new graduate students.

The dual degree program is a Transnational Education (TNE) program jointly funded by the Commission on Higher Education and the British Council under the project Joint Development of Niche Programmes through Philippine-UK Linkages. Ten top higher education institutions in the Philippines have been selected as recipients of project support: Ateneo de Manila University, Bicol University, Central Luzon State University, De La Salle University, Miriam College, Saint Louis University, Silliman University, University of the Philippines, University of San Carlos, and University of Santo Tomas.

When the pioneering batch completes the program, the University of Santo Tomas will be dubbed as the hub for the very first doctoral program in Architecture in the Philippines.