Global Business Guide Indonesia

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Education | Creating World Class Universities

While having a number of excellent universities, Indonesia’s institutions still face the challenge of being recognised regionally and globally. Last year, the country failed to count a single university in the top 200 of the world’s top institutions. In 2009 Universitas Indonesia in Jakarta reached 201st place but has since fallen back to 236th in 2010. From a regional perspective, the QS University Rankings of the top 200 universities in Asia count some Indonesian schools such as Gadjah Mada in Yogjakarta in 85th place and ITB of Bandung in 113th place. However the few that made the ranking is considerably lower than the numbers from Singapore, China or Malaysia. As the country’s economic growth and political stability gain global awareness, the country’s centres of higher learning want to enter the ranks of the world class.

Links with foreign universities are often cited as the way to move up the global rankings by absorbing best practices and enhancing the student experience through sandwich programs and joint research. Indonesian universities have been active in signing agreements for international cooperation and partnerships in the forms of MoUs, in fact the majority of the larger universities all have some kind of agreement with an institution abroad. Universitas Indonesia and ITB both have partnerships with around 80 foreign universities with the majority of those being based in Asia such as Japan, Malaysia and South Korea. Australia and the Netherlands are also the source of numerous partnerships and also host the thousands of Indonesian students that choose to study abroad.

The charge against Indonesian universities is the lack of cooperation with those Western universities that are found within the ranks of the top global institutions, and therefore the failure to absorb the best practices of this part of the world. The Asia-centric approach is understandable when one considers the geographical and cultural proximity of such countries to Indonesia. However, the benefits of such partnerships in advancing the academic practices are questionable when the ranking of the institution is not taken into account. Yet, Indonesia’s universities face the challenge of finding suitable partners that are compatible with their stage of development and areas of speciality.

In order to raise the profile of Indonesian universities abroad, universities must be global in their outlook and curriculum. The desire to be international has become a fashionable term in Indonesia with numerous universities citing it as part of their vision and some even changing their name to include the term, but being international means more than just partnerships to send students abroad and teaching in English. Universities in Indonesia realise the benefits of foreign partnerships to raise the bar in teaching and research but the immediate focus must be concentrated on the learning environment on campus at home.

Global Business Guide Indonesia - 2012

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Indonesia Education Snapshot

Number of Tertiary Education Institutions: 4,445 (2016)
Type: 91.5% Private, 8.5% Public
Students in Higher Education: 4,941,574 (2016)
Net Enrolment Rate in Tertiary Education: 22% (2014)
Relevant Law: Higher Education Law No. 12 of 2012 provides universities with the autonomy to set their own tuition fees and authorising the set up of foreign universities in partnership with Indonesian institutions.