Global Business Guide Indonesia

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Surya University | Prof. Yohanes Surya
Prof. Yohanes Surya

To best prepare our graduates for careers in key industries, we organize our faculty structure to emphasize fields that need to be further developed in Indonesia

Prof. Yohanes Surya, PhD, Founder & Rector

Established with the goal of becoming a leader in the fields of science and technology, Surya University has had considerable success in gathering a faculty of over 300 PhDs as it strives to position Indonesia within the sciences regionally and globally. Please present the university’s background as well as elaborate upon its strategies going forward.

I founded this university because I recognised that Indonesia’s abundant human resources have not yet met their full potential. As of 2010, Indonesia produced only 15 international patents; a figure that trails far behind regional competitors such as China, which currently holds 314,000 patents. We thus made it our goal to prioritise high quality research and provide Indonesian students with access to the facilities and forums through which they can make advancements in the natural and tech based sciences. All of our students must carry out research during their third semester on campus, which is why we have so actively added PhD professors to our faculty. In addition to this, we also work with more than 100 research collaborators.

We plan to continue expanding our teaching staff; in truth many more lecturers with advanced degrees are needed to propel this university towards achieving its goals. In order for faculty members to dedicate one or two years to the publication of high quality research, we believe that it is necessary to have over 1000 PhDs. We must take advantage of the preference amongst Indonesians finishing their PhDs abroad to return home after graduating, due to the sizeable scope for opportunities in Indonesia. It seems to be the case that these individuals choose to remain abroad because of the present lack of research facilities in Indonesia, and this is an issue that we hope to address directly. In fact, most of our 300 faculty members with PhDs came to this university having lived outside of Indonesia prior to this.

In which areas should Indonesia focus its curriculum to best meet the demands of today’s economy?

It is very important that Indonesia focus on maritime sciences and technology, given its standing as the world’s largest archipelago, its wealth of offshore natural resources and the potential for renewable energy in wave power. We also need to prioritise the life sciences, as there are many advanced technologies that could be applied to Indonesia, particularly in developing its agricultural sector. Palm oil farmers are currently able to achieve CPO yields of around 3 tonnes per hectare, and the implementation of new technology could see this rate more than double to 7 tonnes per hectare. Advancing this field of study in Indonesia could also help the country make great strides in tackling mosquito borne diseases such as dengue fever.

A perceived issue with Indonesia’s higher education sector is its lack of coordination with the business community to produce graduates ready to work in industries that need human resources the most. What has been Surya University’s approach to preparing students with the skills suited to the current business climate?

In addition to cooperating with the private sector for funding, our university accommodates the demands of the business community through its informal mantra of ‘if you need it, we have it’.

For example, when Astra Group approached us with the goal of carrying out research and innovation in the automotive industry, we were able to direct them to our faculty members that specialize in this area and as a result successfully initiated projects in cooperation with this company. The diverse talents of our faculty members can be seen in our collaboration with the Indonesian army, with whom we have 15 projects including the development of nano satellites. We also plan to soon sign an MOU with Biofarma, Indonesia’s leading vaccine manufacturer, to conduct research in medicine.

To best prepare our graduates for careers in key industries, we organize our faculty structure to emphasize fields that need to be further developed in Indonesia. Our academic programs can be divided into three main faculties: the Faculty of Green Economy & Digital Communication, the Faculty of Life Science, and the Faculty of Clean Energy & Climate Change.

From an international partnership point of view, how is the university positioned towards cooperation with foreign universities?

We are open to working with foreign universities and are primarily interested in forming research partnerships to exchange expertise and expedite the implementation of advanced technologies. We have collaborated with international universities in this capacity in the past, having sent a faculty member to Harvard University to work with their research team in person. In keeping with a focus on life sciences and maritime science and technology, our university would like to establish partnerships in these areas to accelerate growth in our capacity to teach the latest subjects and undertake ground breaking research.

We are also well positioned to cooperate with multinationals and private sector entities, as is demonstrated in our existing partnerships with companies such as Sweden based Ecoregion, who gives us access to their latest technology which we then train our students to use. Through this partnership our university was also able to provide this private sector player with new technology suited for implementation in Indonesia, developed by our faculty members.

As a final message, what would you like our readers to remember about Surya University?

The decision to establish this university was initially met with considerable scepticism from those who wondered whether a non-conglomerate could successfully set up a state of the art research facility that required heavy investment. Driven by an overarching desire to see Indonesia move to the forefront of innovation in sciences and technology and buoyed by the belief that the universe will follow if you actively try to achieve your dreams and goals; we have been able to quell lingering doubts with the acquisition of land and funding for our new $1 billion USD campus and research facility set to open in 2015. With enough belief and persistence, any door can be opened insofar as you are willing to move towards it.