Global Business Guide Indonesia

Andalas University Andalas University Andalas University Andalas University Andalas University Andalas University Andalas University Andalas University
Andalas University | Prof. Dr. Werry Darta Taifur
Prof. Dr. Werry Darta Taifur

As a cornerstone of the local higher education sector, we have played an integral role in addressing the imbalance between the quality of education offered to students in Java and students outside of Java

Prof. Dr. Werry Darta Taifur, Rector

Universitas Andalas has a long history in Indonesia’s higher education sector as a university with 15 faculties offering undergraduate, graduate and non-degree programs. What more can you tell us about your university’s background and its main strategies going forward?

Universitas Andalas was founded in 1955 in West Sumatra and is the fourth oldest university in the country. As a cornerstone of the local higher education sector, we have played an integral role in addressing the imbalance between the quality of education offered to students in Java and students outside of Java through the provision of a wide range of courses from 15 faculties and a comprehensive postgraduate program. In 2007, we devised a long term strategy for Universitas Andalas to strengthen its standing as a leading university well known for its integrity and commitment to quality education. This will serve as our roadmap until 2028 split into four periods, and provides us with clear objectives and a common vision to strive towards in the future.

We are currently in the midst of the second period covering 2014 to 2018, and our strategy for this time-frame is focused on several changes to organizational structure and financial management in seeking to become fully autonomous as a means of spurring our continued development. Among the steps that we have already taken is our attainment of ‘A’ accreditation, making us one of only two universities outside of Java to have received this distinction. We have also sought to obtain international accreditation for several of our programs such as Economics, Engineering and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

A lot is expected of the new government to improve upon education in Indonesia. In your view, what should the new administration prioritize in spurring the development of Indonesia’s higher education sector?

Indonesia’s tertiary education sector is in need of higher quality lecturers. Our university, for instance, has 444 PhD holders that comprise 32% of our entire faculty. We feel that it is necessary for this figure to reach 60-70% for us to develop at a rate that would enable us to achieve our long-term goals, and it is well known that many universities in Indonesia face the same challenge in finding top lecturers. I appreciate that the government has begun to take a more active role in encouraging lecturers to obtain PhDs at prominent international universities, but the supply of lecturers qualified to teach Indonesia’s next generation of thinkers and leaders is still far too limited.

The new administration should also look to provide more financial support to the higher education sector. In our experience, this has been lacking in the past particularly for investment in infrastructure and campus facilities.

Universitas Andalas is the leading university in Sumatra and as such is well positioned to draw upon the island’s geographical advantages such as an abundance of natural resources. Based on this, what can you tell us about your plans to offer courses suited to surrounding industries?

There are three areas that we are currently focused on that tap into Sumatra’s advantages. Traditional medicine is one subject in which we see substantial potential given our position in a region renowned for its biodiversity, and we already have our own forest and plantation area dedicated to growing plants used in traditional herbal remedies. Our university conducts comprehensive research into this subject to discover new applications for local flora and increase the effectiveness of existing traditional medicines.

This is in keeping with our broader plan to offer a selection of courses in agriculture, given Sumatra’s reputation for having highly fertile soil. Finally, we are also the only university in Indonesia to offer a study program on the topic of the Minangkabau culture indigenous to West Sumatra.

Universitas Andalas’ growth over the last six decades has seen it regularly add new faculties to expand upon its course offerings for students. For the future, which new faculties do you plan to open?

We are currently focused on expanding the Faculty of Engineering - our most recent addition to the university. It is our expectation that this department will play a key role in furthering Universitas Andalas’ reputation as an influential voice in academia through the frequent publication of research in notable journals. At this moment in time, we do not plan to open new faculties given that we already offer a complete selection of courses.

How is Universitas Andalas positioned towards working with international universities and in which areas do you see the most potential for collaboration?

Our university has long recognised the benefits of cooperating with universities overseas, and as such has already initiated joint research with many international partners. Most of our partnerships are with universities based in Japan and Australia. For instance, Deakin University appointed us as the pre-departure training centre for students looking to continue their studies in Australia, based upon the strength of our language programs. We also work with international organizations such as UNESCO and USAID for topics such as food security and how best to revitalize a community after it suffers from then effects of a natural disaster.

For the future, we would like to expand our international network to include new partners in Southeast Asia, Europe and the USA. To facilitate this type of cooperation, we recently set up an on-campus American Corner and French Corner.

What can you tell us about Universitas Andalas’ priorities when it comes to cooperating with the private sector to provide skilled and ready to work graduates?

To prepare our graduates to take upon key positions for major multinationals we provide them with international exposure through student and faculty exchange. In addition to this, we work directly with the private sector by inviting prominent business leaders and entrepreneurs to give our students an insight into the skills sought by industry players during the recruitment of human resources. We also work with industry for research, including a recent collaboration to discover new applications for the byproduct of coconut oil production so as to minimize waste.

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

Indonesia is a large country and I would like to encourage people to look beyond Java to take advantage of opportunities to work with universities and businesses based on other islands. We stand to benefit considerably from support provided by international universities and private sector players to increase the quality of our university.