THE PONTIFICAL & ROYAL UNIVERSITY OF SANTO TOMAS, THE CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES
University of Santo Tomas
Latin: Pontificia et Regais Sancti Thomæ Aquinatis Universitas Manilana
|Motto||Veritas in Caritate|
Motto in English
|Truth in Charity|
|Type||PrivateRoman Catholiccoeducationalnon-profitresearch university|
|Established||April 28, 1611|
(408 years and 218 days)
|Founder||Fr. Miguel de Benavides, OP|
|Roman Catholic (Dominican)|
|ICUSTA, AUN, ASAIHL, ASEACCU, COCTI, IAU, KAAD, PAASCU, IFCU|
|Chancellor||Very Rev. Fr. Gerard Francisco P. Timoner, III, O.P., SThL|
|Vice-Chancellor||Very Rev. Fr. Napoleon Sipalay, Jr., O.P.|
|Rector||Very Rev. Fr. Herminio Dagohoy, O.P., Ph.D|
|Secretary General||Rev. Fr. Jesus M. Miranda, Jr., O.P., Ph.D|
|Students||44,791 (as of 2015)|
|Campus||21.5 ha. 458m x 462m (Urban)|
|Colors|| – White|
The Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas, The Catholic University of the Philippines, or simply the University of Santo Tomas (UST), is a private, Roman Catholicresearch university in Manila, Philippines. Founded on April 28, 1611 by Miguel de Benavides, Archbishop of Manila, it has the oldestextant university charter in the Philippines and in Asia, and is one of the world’s largest Catholic universities in terms of enrollment found on one campus. The university is run by the Order of Preachers. UST is the only university to have been visited by three popes four times: once by Pope Paul VI on November 28, 1970, twice by Pope John Paul II on February 18, 1981 and January 13, 1995, and once by Pope Francis on January 18, 2015. The patron of the university is St. Thomas Aquinas, while St. Catherine of Alexandria is the patroness.
The university is composed of several autonomous faculties, colleges, schools and institutes, each conferring undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate degrees, and the basic education units. Several degree programs have been accredited by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) as Centers of Excellence and Centers of Development. Moreover, it was awarded with an Institutional Accreditation by the CHED through the Federation of Accrediting Agencies of the Philippines. In December 2013, the university was recognized to have the highest number of accredited programs in the country by the Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities’ Commission on Accreditation (PACUCOA).
Prominent Thomasians include saints, Filipino presidents, heroes, artists, scientists, professionals, and religious figures, who have figured prominently in the history of the Philippines. The athletic teams are the Growling Tigers, who are members of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines and are consistent winners of the Overall Championship. The university campus is listed as one of the most viable sites in the Philippines to be included in the UNESCOWorld Heritage List, while the Archives of the University of Santo Tomas is listed as one of the most viable documentary heritage to be included in the UNESCOMemory of the World Programme.
The foundation of the University is ascribed to Miguel de Benavides, O.P., the third Archbishop of Manila. He came to the Philippines with the first Dominican mission in 1587. He went on to become bishop of Nueva Segovia, and was promoted archbishop of Manila in 1601. Upon his death in July 1605, Benavides bequeathed his library and personal property worth 1,500 pesos to be used as the seed fund for the establishment of an institution of higher learning. Fr. Bernardo de Santa Catalina carried out Benavides’s wishes and was able to secure a building near the Dominican church and convent in Intramuros for the College.
In 1609, permission to open the College was requested from King Philip III of Spain, which only reached Manila in 1611. On April 28, 1611, notary Juan Illian witnessed the signing of the act of foundation by Baltasar Fort, OP, Bernardo Navarro, OP, and Francisco Minayo, OP. Fort, appointed that year to the post of Father Provincial, became the rector in 1619.
The Colegio de Nuestra Señora del Santísimo Rosario, was established on April 28, 1611, from the Benavides’s library. Later renamed Colegio de Santo Tomas, it was elevated by Pope Innocent X to a university on November 20, 1645 in his brief, In Supreminenti. This makes the institution the first in the islands to be formally elevated to the status of university.
Its complete name is The Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas, The Catholic University of the Philippines (Spanish: La Real y Pontificia Universidad de Santo Tomás de Aquino, La Universidad Católica de Filipinas). It was given the title “Royal,” by King Charles III of Spain in 1785; “Pontifical” by Pope Leo XIII on 1902 in his constitution, Quae Mari Sinico, and the appellative “The Catholic University of the Philippines” by Pope Pius XII in 1947. This makes the UST the first and only formally declared royal and pontifical university in the Philippines.
The university was located within the walled city of Intramuros in Manila. It was started by the Spanish Archbishop of Manila in the early 17th century as a seminary for aspiring young priests, taking its name and inspiration from Saint Thomas Aquinas, a Dominican theologian. The first courses offered by the Colegio de Santo Tomas were canon law, theology, philosophy, logic, grammar, the arts, and civil law. In 1871, it began offering degrees in Medicine and Pharmacy, the first in colonized Asia.
At the beginning of the 20th century, with the growing student population, the Dominicans were given a 21.5 hectare land at the Sulucan Hills in Sampaloc, Manila and built its 215,000 square meter campus there in 1927 with the inauguration of its Main Building. Also that year, it began accepting female enrollees. In the last four decades, the university grew into a full-fledged institution of higher learning, conferring degrees in law, medicine, and various academic letters. The university has graduated Philippine national heroes, presidents, and even saints. The Medicine and Civil Law courses were retained in Intramuros at that time.
During World War II, the Japanese forces converted the Sampaloc campus into an internment camp for enemy aliens, mostly Americans, living in the Philippines. The original Intramuros campus was destroyed in 1944 by an arson created by the Japanese Kempeitai. More than 4,000 foreigners survived under difficult conditions in the internment camp for 37 months from January 1942 until February 1945 when the camp was liberated by American soldiers.
Since its establishment in 1611, the University’s academic life was interrupted only twice: from 1898 to 1899, during the Philippine Revolution against Spain, and from 1942 to 1945, during the Japanese occupation of the country. In its long history, the university has been under the leadership of more than 90 Rectors. UST’s first Filipino rector was Fr. Leonardo Legaspi, O.P. who served UST from 1971 to 1977.
In recognition of its achievements, a number of important dignitaries have officially visited the university, among them, during the last four decades: Pope Paul VI on November 28, 1970; King Juan Carlos I of Spain in 1974 and 1995; Mother Teresa of Calcutta in January 1977 and again in November 1984; Pope John Paul II on February 18, 1981 and January 13, 1995 (as part of the World Youth Day 1995); Queen Sofia of Spain in July 6, 2012. In January 1997, Chiara Lubich, foundress of the Focolare Movement also visited the University and was awarded an ‘Honoris Causa’ Degree in Sacred Theology. On January 18, 2015, Pope Francis also visited the university for the meeting with the students.
On the 2015–2016 academic year, UST had 44,791 students enrolled, up by 2.2 percent from last year’s 43,818 
The University sits on an almost perfect square of 21.5 hectares bounded by España Boulevard, P. Noval St., A.H. Lacson Ave. and Dapitan St. in Sampaloc, Manila. The University transferred to its present campus in 1927 when the Dominicans deemed the Intramuros campus inadequate for the University’s growing population. The first structures in the campus were the imposing Main Building, the Santisimo Rosario Parish, the UST Gym (once the largest gym in the country), and the Arch of the Centuries.
The campus at present boasts a mixture of old and new architecture with the inclusion of the UST multi-deck carpark which houses the Alfredo M. Velayo College of Accountancy, and the UST Sports Complex, the second modern sports facility to be constructed by a UAAP member school.
The Central Seminary was built in the 1930s and was designed by Fernando Ocampo. The plan of the seminary was configured in the form of the letter E, with courtyards bisecting the wings. The boxy building had an elongated frontage assembling a continuous band of balconies and windows on the second and third level. The structure’s horizontally-oriented massing was broken by an engaged central section at the main entrance and two other similar treatments at the end portions. An art deco relief, bud-like finials, and a tableau embellished the stepped pylon at the entrance.
The Engineering and Architecture Building, now called Roque Ruaño Building was built in 1952, designed by Julio Victor Rocha, initiated the application of the Niemeyer-inspired brise soleil in local buildings. The façade of the three-storey building displayed a continuous sun breaker that protected its second and third-storey windows. The trend for brise soleil followed the character of the building, which created many variations.
Other new structures include the Beato Angelico Building which houses the College of Architecture and College of Fine Arts and Design, the Plaza Mayor, the UST Quadricentennial Square and Alumni Park, Thomas Aquinas Research Complex, the UST Tan Yan Kee Student Centre, and the recently-built, 12-Floor Buenaventura Garcia Paredes, O.P. Building (UST Alumni Center) which houses students from the Faculty of Arts and Letters and the College of Tourism and Hospitality Management.
The streets of the University were non-existent until March 1960. The prominent university streets are Intramuros Drive, Quezon Drive, and Osmeña Drive.
The UST Manila campus was declared a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines on 24 May 2011. Four of the University’s structures are also declared National Cultural Treasures by the National Museum: Main Building, Arch of the Centuries, Santissimo Rosario Central Seminary, as well as the Grandstand and the University field. UST is the first and only university campus to have been named a National Historical Landmark and the only learning institution in the Philippines as location of National Cultural Treasures.
The University has started to develop upcoming campuses in Santa Rosa City (45 hectares), General Santos City (80 hectares), and Negombo, Sri Lanka, (5 hectares). The University is also in the process of establishing a presence in Mongolia. In 2011, the University celebrated its 400th founding anniversary, and it is projected that the new campuses will be operational by then.
As early as the 17th century post-graduate programs have been offered in the University of Santo Tomas through its various Faculties and Colleges.
Faculty of Civil Law
The UST Faculty of Civil Law was the first secular faculty, and hence the oldest law school in the Philippines. Although the Faculty offers the Bachelor of Laws degree, it is considered as a post baccalaureate degree, as it requires applicants to either have a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree. Civil Law resides in the UST Main Building. The Faculty of Civil Law has produced four Philippine Presidents and six Chief Justices of the Philippines. It also has a Legal Aid clinic named after one of its illustrious alumni, Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion.
Aspiring law students need to finish at least a bachelor’s degree before being admitted to the Faculty. They must then maintain an average of at least 78 in their freshman year to be readmitted the succeeding year. The required minimum grade increases as the year level progresses (79 for the second year, 80 for the third year and 81 for fourth year). During the third year of stay in the Faculty and after finishing all the law subjects, the student is required to engage in an internship program of at least 200 hours before being admitted to the fourth year, wherein he will then be required to undergo an oral examination or revalida and at least two major examinations to be able to complete the whole program. Upon graduation, the student will be qualified to become a bar candidate that will be eligible to take the bar examinations in the Philippines.
The Faculty is one of the top performing schools in the history of the Philippine bar examinations. It has produced four Philippine Presidents, three Philippine Vice Presidents, six Supreme Court Chief Justices, and several law deans in the country.
Faculty of Medicine and Surgery
The UST Faculty of Medicine and Surgery was founded in 1871. Medicine and Surgery offers the Doctor of Medicine degree which is a post baccalaureate degree.
The national hero of the Philippines, José Rizal, studied here before moving to Madrid Central University to complete his studies. Graduates of the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery rank among the top scorers in the medical licensure exams, and the Faculty boasts a high passing rate overall. Many UST medical school graduates have become prominent clinicians, surgeons and professors in top hospitals and medical schools in the United States who return often to participate in medical missions and in annual medical alumni reunions.
In 2001, the Faculty adopted the problem-based learning method for use in the curriculum. This was highly controversial, as many professors complained that students were not learning the basic sciences adequately. Eventually, in 2003 the curriculum was changed again, this time to an innovate format which combined elements of both traditional (lecture-based) and problem-based methods.
The Faculty is known for giving its fourth-year students a series of written and oral exams known as the “revalida”. In the oral exams, groups of three students each are questioned by panels composed of three professors on basic, clinical, and emergency medical sciences. Passing the revalida is a prerequisite to graduation.
The Faculty is a Center of Excellence. It has been consistently producing topnotchers in the annual national licensure exams for Filipino physicians and it is proud of its Level 4 National Accreditation for several years. It is also the alma mater of numerous Secretaries of Health of the Philippines, as well as several Presidents of the Philippine Medical Association, the national organization of medical doctors in the country. The Faculty was also ranked as the only Asian medical school to be in the top 10 list of foreign medical institutions by the U.S. Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates in 2007.
In July 8–15, 2012, the faculty and the Asian Medical Students’ Association-UST hosted the 33rd Asian Medical Students’ Conference after almost three decades since the country hosted. It is the largest gathering of the medicine students across Asia and the Pacific with participating guest countries from Europe.
In 1938, the UST Graduate School was established to administer and coordinate all the graduate programs in the University of Santo Tomas. The Graduate School academic programs have grown to 90 graduate program offerings, spanning about seven clusters of disciplines.
Today, the UST Graduate School is recognized as a Center of Excellence in several fields of the Arts and Humanities, Allied Health Sciences, Natural Sciences, and Engineering by the Commission on Higher Education.
Its programs in business, public management, and education were also recognized by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Fund for Assistance of Private Education (FAPE)- Evaluation of Graduate Education Programs (EGEP).
The UST Publishing House (USTPH) was established in 1996 through the merger of the Santo Tomas University Press (STUP) and the UST Printing Office (USTPO). The Publishing House evolved from the UST Press, which was founded in 1593 by Fr. Francisco de San Jose, O.P. As such, it is one of the oldest continuing press in the world today, only next to Cambridge University in England.
Academic and research journals
- Acta Manilana, a journal for the natural and applied sciences
- The Antoninus Journal (formerly Ad Veritatem), a multi-disciplinary research journal of the UST Graduate School
- The Asian Journal of English Language Studies, the journal of the UST Department of English
- Boletin Ecclesiastico, the Official Interdiocesian Journal of UST
- De Las Casas, the UST Community Development journal
- Hasaan, the journal of the UST Department of Filipino
- Kritike, the journal of the UST Department of Philosophy
- Philippiniana Sacra, a publication of the Ecclesiastical Faculties
- Santo Tomas Journal of Medicine, a publication of the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery
- Tomas, literary journal of the Center for Creative Writing and Studies
- UST Law Review, a journal of the Faculty of Civil Law
- Philippine Journal of Allied Health Sciences, a research journal of the UST Center for Research on Movement Science
- Unitas, a semi-annual peer reviewed journal of advanced research in literature, culture and society
- UST College of Science Journal- a research journal of the UST College of Science
- Academia, the official international bulletin of the University of Santo Tomas
- Thomasian Sunscope, the official alumni newsletter of the University of Santo Tomas
- The Varsitarian, the official university weekly student newspaper
- La Stampa, the official university Senior High School student newspaper
- The Aquinian, the official university Junior High School student newspaper
Rankings and reputation
The university is regarded by the Philippines Commission on Higher Education as one of the top universities in the Philippines together with University of the Philippines (system), Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University (system) known as The Big Four. Internationally, it is the first and only university in the country to be recognized by the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) University Rankings with four stars for excellence (five as the highest) as an institution and five stars in the areas of employability, facilities, social responsibility and inclusiveness. It has been ranked in the QS Asian University Rankings (145), QS World University Rankings (801+) and QS Graduate Employability Rankings (201+).
Events and traditions
- Misa de Apertura (The Opening Mass for the Academic Year)
- The Thomasian Welcome Walk – (formerly The Rites of Passage) Freshmen pass under the historic Arch of the Centuries as welcome to the university life. The Highlight of the TWW, aside from the symbolic passing, is the Eucharistic Celebration. Established in 2003.
- The USTv Students’ Choice Awards on Television – Established in 2005, is an award-giving body by Thomasians for Philippine Television that upholds Christian moral and ideals.
- UST Paskuhan – Primered by the Eucharistic Celebration, the Paskuhan is the Thomasian way of celebrating Christmas, with performances from different student organizations, live bands, and other shows. It also featured a Holy Mass and an inter-collegiate lantern-making contest.
- UST Baccalaureate Mass, Ceremony of the Light, and The Sending off Rites
- UST annual Goodwill Tournaments for various sports for all colleges. (Football, basketball, swimming, volleyball, etc.)
National Hero of the Philippines Jose Rizal (Medicine)
1st Prime Minister of the 1st Philippine Republic Apolinario Mabini (LL.B. 1894)
1st Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines under the American Civil Government Cayetano Arellano (B.Phil. 1862; B.Th. 1867; J.C.B., B.C.L. 1871; LL.B. 1876)
3rd President of the Philippines, President of the 2nd Republic Jose P. Laurel (A.B., PhD 1919)
9th President of the Philippines Diosdado Macapagal (LL.B. 1936)
4th President of the Philippines Sergio Osmeña (LL.B. 1903)
2nd President of the Philippines Manuel L. Quezon (LL.B. 1903)
23rd Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines Renato Corona (D.C.L.)
Senator of the Philippines Joel Villanueva (B.S. 1996)
National Artist of the Philippines for Literature Nick Joaquin (A.A.)
Persons affiliated to the university, either as students, faculty members, or administrators, are known as “Thomasians”. José Rizal (National Hero of the Philippines), studied Medicine at UST, and continued it at the University of Madrid in Madrid, Spain. The University has produced four Presidents of the Philippines, namely Manuel L. Quezon,Sergio Osmeña,José P. Laurel and Diosdado Macapagal. It has also produced three Philippine Vice Presidents and six Chief Justices of the Philippine Supreme Court.
The UST Office for Alumni Relations build a twelve-story alumni center on the site of existing UST gymnasium; it is a multi-function building to hold events for the alumni and lodging services for visitors. The existing Olympic-sized swimming pool located nearby would be kept and refurbished.
The design was chosen from seven winners in a competition among students organized by the College of Architecture. Abelardo Tolentino Jr., an outstanding Thomasian alumni for Architecture, worked on the design to produce the final blueprint.