Global Business Guide Indonesia

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Sahid University | Professor Ir. Toni Atyanto Dharoko
Professor Ir. Toni Atyanto Dharoko

Educational institutions are responsible for making sure that the country’s younger generations are prepared to contribute to Indonesia’s development

Professor Ir. Toni Atyanto Dharoko, Rector

As a leading university in Indonesia, Sahid University has been able to establish itself as one the country’s premier sources of entrepreneurs and specialists within the tourism industry. What can you tell us about the university’s background and its strategies going forward?

The owner of Sahid University, Mr. Sukamdani Gitosardjono, is a well-known figure in the hospitality industry, having established the Sahid Hotel chain in Indonesia. To combine the two areas he was most passionate about, tourism and entrepreneurship, and ensure that Indonesia’s future generations would be among the most skilled in these fields, he founded this university in 1987. To date, these two fields of study remain central to our academic curriculum. Our students benefit from our close affiliation with Mr. Sukamdani’s hotel chain, as they are given frequent access to a practical environment in which to hone their skills.

However, the concept of tourism is now being applied on a broader scale; moving from being only associated with hotels and restaurants to now being tied to regional growth, infrastructural development and economic progress. We are thus trying to widen our perspective and switch our university’s focus to encourage students to consider the economic and social aspects of tourism. To do this, we are now cooperating with the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy to better understand how to prepare human resources and have actively amended our curriculum to best develop our students with this in mind.

We believe that it is a university’s duty to try and encourage as many young adults as possible to enroll in higher education, given that only 17% in Indonesia currently choose to do so. Widening our academic focus beyond skills needed in the hotel and restaurant business should achieve this goal, and we are targeting 10 to 15% annual enrollment growth in the coming years.

Indonesia’s tourism industry still lags behind regional competitors. Where do you think work needs to be done to boost the country’s competitiveness?

Relative to Singapore and Malaysia, our human resources, particularly outside of Java, do not have the knowledge and preparation to be able to take advantage of the many interesting local destinations that have substantial potential as tourism hot spots. As a university, it is our job to train the country’s human resources and improve upon the current standard of the labour force.

In addition to this, our university also undertakes a large amount of research so that we are able to give informed recommendations to the local government and entrepreneurs interested in developing the country’s tourism industry.

This research is funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture, and is typically geared towards provinces outside of Java, where gathering research results can be extremely expensive.

Where do you think Indonesia can specialize within the tourism sector?

Indonesia is an extremely diverse country, with over 360 different cultures and a variety of dialects. A tourist going from Aceh to Papua, for instance, would have two completely different experiences in these locations. This is something that needs to be emphasized about the Indonesian archipelago to help it stand out as a tourist destination.

Sahid University has already initiated cooperation with several universities in Europe and Australia. Are you open to more partnerships in the future? Furthermore, are you interested in working with private sector companies?

Very much so, we are now in talks to develop partnerships with universities in Germany, Malaysia and China, such as Beijing University. With that said, we would also like to forge better ties with successful local state universities, as they can help us improve upon our ability to find good international partners. The issue with this is that most of Indonesia’s large state universities concentrate on technology as opposed to tourism and entrepreneurship, and we thus haven’t received a great deal of guidance in looking to cooperate with foreign educational institutions. There is a considerable need for improved public-private relations in the Indonesian education sector.

In regards to private sector companies: we have engaged in this type of collaboration in the past, having worked extensively with MNC and tvOne, and are open to doing so again should the opportunity arise.

What would you like our readers to remember about Sahid University as a final message?

Educational institutions are responsible for making sure that the country’s younger generations are prepared to contribute to Indonesia’s development. At Sahid University, we have made it our mission to accomplish this goal by striving to instil students with values that will serve them well for the rest of their lives; we emphasize the importance of being professional in all settings as well as the significance of staying true to their culture and country, no matter where their careers may take them.

Global Business Guide Indonesia - 2014

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