RI Could Be­come a Lead­ing Ed­u­ca­tional Hub in Asia

The Jakarta Post - Magazine - - Ed­u­ca­tion Sup­ple­ment - Veera­malla An­ja­iah

In­done­sia, the world’s big­gest Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity na­tion, has the po­ten­tial to be­come a lead­ing higher ed­u­ca­tion hub in Asia in the com­ing years, says the Lon­don­based Times Higher Ed­u­ca­tion (THE) in a re­cent sur­vey.

“Malaysia, In­done­sia, Pak­istan and Thai­land are among the Asian na­tions that could be­come lead­ing higher ed­u­ca­tion hubs in fu­ture years,” THE said in its Asia Univer­sity Rank­ings 2017 re­port.

THE is the world’s lead­ing provider of higher ed­u­ca­tion data and pub­lishes the World Univer­sity Rank­ings and Asian Univer­sity Rank­ings ev­ery year.

The Ban­dung In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy (ITB) and the Univer­sity of In­done­sia (UI) were the only two higher ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions from In­done­sia in this year’s list of the top 300 uni­ver­si­ties in Asia. In 2016, only 200 uni­ver­si­ties were sur­veyed by THE.

Things are mov­ing slowly in the ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor in In­done­sia, where one third of the pop­u­la­tion is be­low 30 years old, but there have been re­cent in­creases in qual­ity ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions that fo­cus more on science and tech­nol­ogy, and an enor­mous in­crease in the ed­u­ca­tion bud­get.

Be­sides the ITB and UI, new in­sti­tu­tions like the In­done­sia In­ter­na­tional In­sti­tute of Life Sciences (i3L), which mainly fo­cuses on re­search in life sciences on one side, and on the other, the big player Gadja Mada Univer­sity in Yo­gyakarta and Sten­den Univer­sity in Bali, are see­ing an en­cour­ag­ing in­creased fo­cus on qual­ity.

De­spite these bright prospects for the fu­ture, it is an irony that only two In­done­sian higher ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions out of 4,495 in­sti­tu­tions in the coun­try qual­i­fied to join the THE Asian Univer­sity Rank­ings 2017, which ap­plies tough cri­te­ria to in­clude uni­ver­si­ties in the list.

More­over, the rank­ings of nei­ther the ITB nor UI were par­tic­u­larly promis­ing given the bet­ter rank­ings ob­tained by sev­eral uni­ver­si­ties from our neigh­bor­ing coun­tries like Sin­ga­pore and Malaysia.

For ex­am­ple, the ITB ranked 201-250 while UI ranked 251+ among the 300 uni­ver­si­ties from 24 coun­tries.

Tiny Sin­ga­pore, as usual, out­per­formed Asian pow­er­houses like Japan, China, South Korea and In­dia, top­ping the list for the sec­ond year in a row. The Na­tional Univer­sity of Sin­ga­pore (NUS) is the num­ber one univer­sity in Asia. An­other Sin­ga­porean in­sti­tu­tion, the Nanyang Tech­no­log­i­cal Univer­sity (NTU), ranked fourth, prov­ing that Sin­ga­pore has the best ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem in Asia.

Over­all 24 uni­ver­si­ties from ASEAN coun­tries – Thai­land 10, Malaysia nine, In­done­sia two, Sin­ga­pore two and the Philip­pines one – made into the THE Asian Univer­sity Rank­ings 2017, with the Univer­sity of Malaya from Malaysia and Mahi­dol Univer­sity from Thai­land gain­ing 59th and 97th rank­ings, re­spec­tively.

China’s most pres­ti­gious uni­ver­si­ties, Pek­ing Univer­sity and Ts­inghua Univer­sity, ob­tained sec­ond and third rank­ings.

In or­der to rate the top uni­ver­si­ties, THE uses sev­eral per­for­mance in­di­ca­tors and univer­sity core mis­sions.

“The uni­ver­si­ties are judged across all of their core mis­sions – teach­ing, re­search, knowl­edge trans­fer and in­ter­na­tional out­look – to pro­vide the most com­pre­hen­sive and bal­anced com­par­isons avail­able,” THE said.

A close look at this year’s rank­ings, ge­o­graph­i­cally speak­ing, re­veals that the East Asian re­gion has a record 182 in­sti­tu­tions fig­ured in THE Asian Univer­sity Rank­ings 2017, with Japan top­ping the list with 69 uni­ver­si­ties, fol­lowed by China 54, South Korea 26, Tai­wan 26, Hong Kong six and Ma­cau one.

But the fun­da­men­tal ques­tion is why In­done­sia, the largest econ­omy in South­east Asia and a mem­ber of G20, is lag­ging be­hind even its smaller ASEAN peers.

The is­sue of qual­ity is haunt­ing the In­done­sian ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, which is the fourth-largest ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem in the world. Lack of qual­ity teach­ers and lec­tur­ers, poor in­fra­struc­ture and lack of re­search and train­ing are some of the main prob­lems faced by the In­done­sian ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem.

Ear­lier the prob­lem was a lack of funds. SinceS 2009, the In­done­sian govern­ment has in­creased the ed­u­ca­tion bud­get to al­most 20 per­cent of the to­tal bud­get ev­eryev year. For ex­am­ple, Pres­i­dent Joko “Jokowi”“J Wi­dodo’s ad­min­is­tra­tion has al­lo­cated Rp 416.58 tril­lion to ed­u­ca­tion in the 2016 state bud­get.

The qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion in In­done­sia has been mov­ing at a snail’s pace, and the in­crease in the ed­u­ca­tion bud­get just ended up in boost­ing the in­comes of teach­ers and lec­tur­ers, with no ma­jor im­prove­ment in the qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion.

The Direc­torate of Higher Ed­u­ca­tion has re­cently launched sev­eral dras­tic mea­sures to im­prove qual­ity and en­cour­age re­search in higher ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions. But these mea­sures are at em­bry­onic stage.

An­other in­ter­est­ing point is the in­creased en­thu­si­asm for ac­quir­ing knowl­edge in science and tech­nol­ogy among Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity coun­tries.

The 2017 Asian Univer­sity Rank­ings show that con­ser­va­tive Saudi Ara­bia’s King Ab­dul Aziz Univer­sity re­ceived 23rd rank­ing, the high­est among Mus­lim coun­tries. Nowa­days, more and more Saudi uni­ver­si­ties are fo­cus­ing on science and tech­nol­ogy rather than re­li­gious stud­ies. An­other in­ter­est­ing as­pect is that more women are join­ing uni­ver­si­ties than men. For ex­am­ple, women stu­dents con­sti­tute 55 per­cent of to­tal stu­dents study­ing at King Ab­dul Aziz Univer­sity.

One can see a sim­i­lar trend in coun­tries like Iran, Turkey, Pak­istan, Jor­dan, United Arab Emi­rates, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Morocco and Le­banon. An over­all 52 uni­ver­si­ties from Mus­lim coun­tries ap­peared in this year’s rank­ings.

In­done­sia can fol­low this trend in fel­low Mus­lim coun­tries by in­creas­ing qual­ity, fo­cus­ing on science and tech­nol­ogy and en­cour­ag­ing re­search pro­grams at its higher ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions.



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