University of San Carlos

Colegio de San Ildefonso Philippines Society of the Divine Word
University of San Carlos
Pamantasan ng San Carlos
Unibersidad sa San Carlos
University of San Carlos logo.png
Latin: Universitatis Sancti Caroli
Former names
Colegio-Seminario de San Carlos (1783-1924)
Colegio de San Carlos (1924-1948)
MottoScientia, Virtus, Devotio (Latin)
Motto in English
Knowledge, Virtue, Devotion
TypePrivate Roman Catholic Research Non-profit Coeducational Basic and Higher education institution
  • 1783 (as the Colegio-Seminario de San Carlos)
  • 1935 (managed by SVD)
FounderBishop Mateo Joaquin de Arevalo (Colegio-Seminario de San Carlos)
Religious affiliation
Catholic (Society of the Divine Word)
Academic affiliations
PAASCU, PTC-ACBET (Washington Accord), Integrity Initiative, PCNC, ISO 9001:2015, CHED PHERNET-Zonal Research Center, DOST-ERDT Consortium, DOST-National Science Consortium, DOST-PCHRD, ACUP, PIDS, PASCN, UK-Phils British Council & CHED TNE, AUN, AACSB, ISA, IAU, IFCU, UNDP- Phil Dev & CHED TechHub, USAID-STRIDE, US Embassy Phils. American Corner & Education USA Center, WIPO- IPOPHL
ChairmanCarmelita I. Quebengco, EdD-EM
PresidentFr. Narciso Cellan Jr., SVD, D.Comm
Vice-presidentFr. Felipe Muncada, SVD, PhD (Officer-in-Charge VP for Academic Affairs)
Fr. Generoso Ricardo B. Rebayla Jr., SVD, MM
(VP for Administration)
Fr.Arthur Z.Villanueva, SVD, MA (VP for Finance)
Academic staff
Students22,000 (2018)
Undergraduates16,000 (2018)
Postgraduates1,000 (2018)
P. del Rosario St.
, ,
10°17′58″N 123°53′56″E / 10.29944°N 123.89889°E / 10.29944; 123.89889Coordinates: 10°17′58″N 123°53′56″E / 10.29944°N 123.89889°E / 10.29944; 123.89889
Campus5 urban campuses
88 hectares (217.5 acres)
  • Downtown Campus
  • Talamban Campus
  • North Campus
  • South Campus
  • Montessori Academy Campus
Colors Green  and  Gold 
NicknameCarolinians, Warriors
Sporting affiliations

The University of San Carlos also referred to by its acronym USC or colloquially shortened to San Carlos is a private Catholic research basic and higher education institution administered by the Philippine Southern Province of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD) missionaries in Cebu City, Philippines since 1935. It offers basic education (Montessori academy, grade school, junior high school and senior high school) and higher education (undergraduate and graduate studies). Founded in 1783 as the Colegio-Seminario de San Carlos. It became a university in 1948.

USC is one of the biggest universities in Cebu City with 5 campuses with a combined land area of 88 hectares (Talamban campus has 78 hectares, an ample area for future growth).[1] It is ranked top four nationwide and top one in the Visayas and Mindanao with the most number of centers of excellence (8 COEs) and centers of development (12 CODs) recognized by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) as of March 2016.[2][3][4] USC is also one of the few universities in the country ranked by the International/Asia Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) Rating as among the Top 350 Universities in Asia as of 2016[5] (USC is the lone Cebu based university and one of the universities in the Visayas and Mindanao cited by QS Asia as among internationally recognized universities in the Philippines).[6] USC is ranked by Scopus as top 8th university in the Phils. with the most number of indexed research publications as of 2018.[7] The university is certified with International Standards Organization (ISO) 9001:2015 Quality Management System for Institutional and Student Support Services as of September 2017 by Technischer Uberwachungsverein (TUV) Sud Asia Pacific.

USC has about 22,000 students who are called by the name Carolinians of which more than 200 are international students, enrolled in basic education, collegiate undergraduate and graduate programs and served by about 1,100 academic faculty and staff with a teacher to student ratio of 1:20. About 600 Carolinian students are academic scholars, 200 working student scholars and 300 non-academic scholars (e.g. athletic & sports, cultural & performing arts).[8]


USC consists of five campuses in different areas of Metro Cebu – the Downtown Campus (formerly the Main Campus) along P. del Rosario St.; the Talamban Campus (TC) along Gov. Manuel Cuenco Ave., Brgy. Talamban; the North Campus (formerly the Boys High Campus) along Gen. Maxilom Ave; the South Campus (formerly the Girls High) along corners J. Alcantara St. (P. del Rosario Ext.) and V. Rama Avenue; and the newest is the Montessori Academy along F. Sotto Drive (at the back of USC North Campus).


Facade of the Fr. Bunzel Building which houses the USC School of Engineering at Talamban Campus (circa 1996)

Claim of being the oldest in the Philippines

USC's claims as the "oldest educational institution or school in Asia" has been a long time subject of disputes with the University of Santo Tomas which on the other hand claims to be the "oldest university in Asia".[9][10][11]

The University of San Carlos was originally founded as Colegio de San Ildefonso a primary and secondary education school. It was established by Spanish Jesuit missionaries Antonio Sedeno, Pedro Chirino and Antonio Pereira in 1595. Except for a brief period in the 18th century, the institution of education has remained in constant operation for over 400 years, obtaining university status in 1948.

It was closed in 1769 at the expulsion of the Jesuits. In 1783, Bishop Mateo Joaquin de Arevalo initiated the opening of the Colegio-Seminario de San Carlos. In 1852, the management of the college was entrusted to the Dominican Christian priests, replaced in 1867 by the Vincentian Fathers then, in 1935, the Societas Verbi Divini or the Society of the Divine Word (SVD). The Second World War led to the interruption of the operation of the school in 1941 because several buildings suffered various degrees of destruction. The school reopened as repairs of the damaged buildings which started in 1945 were completed by 1946. The Colegio de San Carlos (CSC) was granted its university charter in 1948. The University was named after San Carlos Borromeo.[12]

However, this position is contested by scholars. According to Fr. Aloysius Cartagenas, a professor at the Seminario Mayor de San Carlos of Cebu, “following Church tradition, the foundation event and date of University of San Carlos should be the decree of Bishop Romualdo Jimeno on 15 May 1867 (turning over the seminary to the Congregation of the Missions) and the first day of classes in the history of what is now USC is 1 July 1867, the day P. Jose Casarramona welcomed the first lay students to attend classes at the Seminario de San Carlos.”[13][14] Thus, he says that San Carlos cannot claim to have descended from the Colegio de San Ildefonso founded by the Jesuits in 1595, despite taking over the latter's facilities when the Jesuits were expelled by Spanish authorities in 1769. According to him there is “no visible and clear link” between Colegio de San Ildefonso and USC. San Carlos was specifically for the training of diocesan priests, and it simply took over the facility of the former, a Jesuit central house with an attached day school.

The university, as an autonomous institute as per the modern definition of a university, started to function in 1867. Though claims have been made to its origin as an autonomous institute at the time of opening of a seminary as a religious school of indoctrination in 1783. University even stretches the claim of its origin back to founding of another center of religious teaching in 1595, which was later closed down. Thus claims about being the oldest, and being a university in its earlier versions or the claims of using shut down institutes as its constituents are concocted and disputed.[13][14] In 2010, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines installed a bronze marker declaring USC's foundation late in the 18th Century, effectively disproving any direct connection with the Colegio de San Ildefonso.[15]

According to Dr. Victor Torres of the De La Salle University, the University of San Carlos' claim dates back to 1948 only when USC was declared a University.[16] Fidel Villarroel from the University of Santo Tomas argued that USC only took over the facility of the former Colegio de San Ildefonso and that there is no 'visible' and 'clear' link between San Carlos and San Ildefonso.[17] In 2010, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines installed a bronze marker declaring USC's foundation late in the 18th Century, effectively disproving any direct connection with the Colegio de San Ildefonso.[15]

Later history

Facade of the old main building in Downtown Campus

In 1924, Colegio-Seminario de San Carlos was split into two by virtue of a Vatican decree that seminaries should only be for priestly training.[13][14] One of the schools that emerged from this split was named San Carlos College. In the 1930s, the San Carlos college moved to a different location, P. Del Rosario Street, while the seminary remained at Martires Street. The Society of the Divine Word took over the college in 1935.[18]

The Second World War saw the closure and occupation of CSC by Japanese troops. Shortly before Liberation, in 1944, bombs from US planes fell on San Carlos, almost reducing the school to rubbles. San Carlos became a university in 1948, three years after it reopened. The seminary, meanwhile, was returned to diocesan control in 1998.[18]

Following Communist persecution of the foreign clergy in China in 1949, the University of San Carlos would benefit from the migration of SVD priest-scholars to the Philippines. This accidental émigré culture in USC spawned pioneering research in anthropology, physics, engineering, philosophy, and other fields, in the Philippines. This would have tremendous impact on the nation's Post-War reconstruction.[18]

Rapid expansion of the University during the 1960s under the leadership of foreign priest-academicians came with the decade's wave of militant nationalism, which culminated in calls for the Filipinization of the administration of all Catholic schools in the country. In 1970, Fr. Amante Castillo became the first Filipino president of USC.[18]


The academic and curricular programs below are offered by the different schools of the university, the following are :

USC houses Graduate Studies offering programs in School of Architecture, Fine Arts and Design, School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, School of Business and Economics, School of Education, School of Engineering, School of Health Care Professions, and School of Law and Governance.


USC is recognized as a research and innovation hub in southern Philippines. The university has drawn in external grants amounting to about PHP130M (US$2.5M) from 2011 to 2018. Internal research grants of about PHP37M (US$700T) have also been awarded from the University Research Trust Fund within the same time period, while an additional PHP350M (US$7M) has been earmarked for laboratory development anticipating the current changes in the Philippine educational system. Research efforts are supported by a print collection of over 200,000 titles and almost 10,000 non-print volumes housed in the University's Library System, along with subscriptions to 17 online journals. USC also publishes two respected scholarly journals, The Philippine Scientist and the Philippine Quarterly of Culture and Society. Additional support for researchers are available through offices or committees providing ethics review, intellectual property and innovation and technology support, and animal care and use. Twenty patents have been filed by the university with the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) from 2012 to 2018, and one start-up company, Green Enviro Management Systems (GEMS), Inc., has been established.[19]

USC has specialized research centers, auxiliary units and laboratories which are the following :[20]

Research Centers

  • Carolinian BRIDGES Technology Hub
  • Center for Research of Energy Systems & Technologies
  • Center for Geoinformatics & Environmental Solutions
  • BioProcess Engineering Research Center
  • Natural Products Research Center (Tuklas Lunas / Drug Discovery)
  • Marine Biology Research Station
  • Theoreticaĺ & Computational Science & Engineering Research Center
  • Center for Academic & Professional Engineering Services
  • Institute for Sustainable Urban Planning & Design
  • Conservation & Heritage Research Institute & Workshop
  • Center for Social Entrepreneurship
  • Water Resources Center
  • Cebuano Studies Center
  • Office of Population Studies
  • Center for Governance, Leadership & Development
  • Center for Social Research & Education
  • Kabilin Heritage Studies Center
  • USC Museum Studies & Galleries (Spanish Colonial, Archeological, Ethnographic, Natural Science, Arcenas "Bahandi & Handuman", Finnigan Ifugao People of Cordillera, Japanese Fine Ceramics & Ningyo Dolls)
  • USC Publications & USC Press

Research Auxiliary Units / Groups & Laboratories

  • Biodiversity & Ecological Studies
  • Marine & Aquaculture Biotechnology
  • Industrial Microbiology
  • Medical & Agricultural Entomology
  • Molecular Biology & Diagnostics
  • Analytical Chemistry & Instrumentation
  • Environmental Chemistry & Aquatic Toxicology
  • Water Laboratory
  • Medical Biophysics
  • Computational Functional Materials, Nanoscience & Nanotechnology
  • Complex Systems & Condensed Matter Physics
  • Material Science, Photonics & Optical Physics
  • Multimedia & Software Development
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Biomass & Biofuels Engineering
  • Construction Materials Testing & Structural Engineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Instrumentation & Process Control
  • Computer Networks
  • Digital Hardware Systems
  • Printed Circuit Board Prototyping & Fabrication
  • Software Engineering
  • Mechatronics
  • Automation & Robotics
  • Computer Aided Design & Engineering
  • Computer Integrated Manufacturing
  • Economics Research
  • Public Health & Nutrition Research
  • Behavioral Science Research

University publications

Today's Carolinian

The official student publication of USC is Today's Carolinian (TC), which is run by its editorial board and staff composed of graduate and undergraduate students of the university. The official slogan of the publication is "Our Commitment. Your Paper." According to its website and Facebook page, the publication began as a re-established student publication of the University of San Carlos during the 80's, almost 10 years after Marcos' Martial Law seized the existence of student publications and other student institutions nationwide. It happened when the students launched its first strike against the administration to reinstate the student council and the student publication of the USC. The students were victorious in reinstating the Student Government. The latter eventually brought back the student publication in September 1983. After some time in the early 2000s, the publication was shut down again and, with the efforts of the university's supreme student council, re-emerged in 2012.

USC Press

The USC Press is the official academic publishing house of the University of San Carlos. Since 1975 to present the university had published about 500 volumes of research journals and about 110 books of academic researches of the faculty, scholars, alumni and partners. The major research journals published are the Philippine Scientist a journal of natural sciences; Philippine Quarterly of Culture and Society a journal of humanities, arts, culture, history and social sciences; and research journals produced by different research centers and units of USC such as the Cebuano Studies Center, Kabilin Heritage Center, Water Resources Center, Office of Population Studies, Business Resource Center, and the different academic schools and departments of the university.

There are 35 books published by USC Press from 2008 to 2015 which cover and involve the following subjects and areas of interests : Historical Images of Cebu during colonial era; Religious Heritage of the Archdiocese of Cebu; Ancestral Houses and Heritage Sites of Cebu and Bohol; Cebuano Literature, Poetry, Language, Culture and Arts; Philippine Architecture (partnership with the University of Michigan); 75th years of SVD Mission at USC; Culinary Heritage of Cebu; Churches of Bohol before and after the 2013 earthquake; 75th years of the USC College of Engineering; Battle of Cebu during the American Commonwealth era; Demographic and Socio-Economic Profile of Cebu based on 2010 Census; Birds of Cebu and Bohol; War in Cebu during the Japanese era of World War II and the History of Cebu province (consisting of 53 volumes for 3 independent cities, 6 component cities, 44 municipalities) which was commissioned by the provincial government of Cebu in 2008.

The USC Press published book “The Birds of Cebu and Bohol” won the prestigious 34th National Book Award in the Science Category for 2015 bestowed by the National Book Development Board (NBDB) and the Manila Critic's Circle. The other two books published by USC Press : “The Battle for Cebu” and “Pagsulay: The Churches of Bohol Before and After the 2013 Earthquake” were also awarded as Finalists in the History and Art categories respectively. USC Press joined the annual national competition of the NBDB in 2013.


Criticisms and Controversies

Resumption of Classes during COVID-19 Lockdown

On April 26, 2020, during Cebu City's initial ECQ as a response to COVID-19, a newspaper column by broadcaster Bobby Nalzaro worried over a reported announcement by University of San Carlos (USC) that classes in all levels of the Cebu-based school would reopen on May 4, which is barely a week after the ECQ was to end under the city's original lockdown schedule of April 28.[30] However, on April 22, Cebu City Mayor Edgar Labella reset the lifting of an ECQ (or enhanced community quarantine in the city) to May 15.[31] President Duterte also approved the May 15 emergency task force (or IATF-EID) recommendation for Cebu City and Cebu Province, among other cities and provinces outside Luzon.[30] This announcement by the school sparked a large online backlash from the students, which expanded to backlash from other concerned parties after the extension was announced.[30][32]

Notable alumni

See also


  1. ^ ph/about/overview "University of San Carlos campuses and facilities" Check |url= value (help).,"7 universities named centers of excellence, development".
  2. ^ "University rankings: Find out how your school does!".
  3. ^ a b c "CMO 37 series of 2015 : Extension of designation of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) granted as Centers of Excellence and Centers of Development in Teacher Education and Engineering Programs of Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Electronics Engineering, Industrial Engineering and Mechanical Engineering until March 30, 2016". Archived from the original on August 2, 2002. Retrieved August 2, 2002.
  4. ^ "CMO 38 series of 2015 : Designated Centers of Excellence and Centers of Development for Various Disciplines Effective January, 2016 to December, 2018". Retrieved 2002-08-02. |archive-url= is malformed: path (help)
  5. ^ more-ph-schools-make-it-to-2016-asian-university-rankings
  6. ^ "Only 5 in PH make list of Asia's top universities - Inquirer Globalnation".
  7. ^ "Scopus ranking of Philippine universities, January 2018".
  8. ^ "University of San Carlos students profile and scholarship".
  9. ^ "UST, USC engages in friendly debate". Today's Carolinian. 20 August 2013.
  10. ^ "History". University of Santo Tomas.
  11. ^ De Leon, Aljohn (August 6, 2014). "Fast Facts: What you should know about Cebu". Rappler. Retrieved 2019-03-18.
  12. ^ About USC – University of San Carlos Archived 2012-05-11 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 2012-04-24.
  13. ^ a b c Torres, Jose Victor (2011-01-27). "No contest: UST is oldest". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Archived from the original on 2013-11-11.
  14. ^ a b c "UST is oldest, period". The Varsitarian. January 26, 2011.
  15. ^ a b NHCP historical marker for University of San Carlos in Cebu City 'National Historical Commission of the Philippines marker' accessed 19 April 2020
  16. ^ No contest: UST is oldest university 'Philippine Daily Inquirer' Accessed 19 April 2020
  17. ^ UST is oldest, period 'The Varsitarian' Accessed 19 April 2020
  18. ^ a b c d e f g "Brief History". University of San Carlos. Archived from the original on 2017-09-04.
  19. ^ "University of San Carlos research infrastructure".
  20. ^ "University of San Carlos research infrastructure"., "Driving Research & Innovation in Philippine Universities: USC Experience" by Dr. Danilo Largo, a technical paper presented at the Phil. Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) and Phil. APEC Study Center Network (PASCN) symposium and conference on "Disruptive Technologies, Challenges and Opportunities" October 8, 2018, UP Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, Metro Manila
  21. ^ "PTC - Philippine Technological Council".
  22. ^ "Home » International Engineering Alliance".
  23. ^ "CMO 18 series of 2012 :Updated List of Private Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) granted Autonomous and Deregulated Status".
  24. ^ a b "Professional Regulation Commission".
  25. ^ "Cebu law students to compete in D.C."
  26. ^ Mandatory Continuing Legal Education
  27. ^ "The Unofficial Philippine Internet Timeline".
  28. ^ "Commercializing IP: changing academic mindsets in the Philippines".
  29. ^ "UK-Philippines Transational Education".
  30. ^ a b c Seares, Pachico A. (2020-04-27). "EXPLAINER. The USC issue: May schools reopen ahead of dates set by government?". Sunstar. Retrieved 2020-06-24.
  31. ^ Macasero, Ryan. "Cebu City lockdown extended to May 15". Rappler. Retrieved 2020-06-24.
  32. ^ "Today's Carolinian". Retrieved 2020-06-24.