Indonesian Universities Propose Policies for Mitigating the Impact of COVID-19

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Nine Indonesian higher education institutions, together with the Higher Education Directorate-General (Dirjen Dikti), attended a Hearing Meeting with the House of Representatives Commission X. The RDP intended to seek counsel and recommendations or policy-making related to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic from universities.

The RDP was attended by Atma Jaya Catholic University of Indonesia (AJCUI), Muhammadiyah Malang University (UMM), Yarsi University, Sultan Agung Islamic University, North Sumatra Islamic University, North Sumatra Muahammadiyah University, Abulyatama Aceh University, Lampung Malahayati University, and Pelita Harapan University.

The meeting also attended by Deputy-Chairwoman the House Commission X Hetifah Sjaifudian, acting Director-general of Higher Education (Dirjen Dikti) Prof. Ir. Nizam, M.Sc., DIC, Ph.D., and Rector of AJCUI Dr. A. Prasetyantoko.

Prof. Ir. Nizam conveyed that some action has been taken in order to mitigate the pandemic, including budget refocusing of 315 billion rupiahs to support teaching hospitals and medical faculties of state universities and volunteers. Moreover, the budget has been refocused to support to ± 400,000 underprivileged students through the KIP-K (Indonesia Smart Card for University Students), and academic calendars relaxation to be flexible and adaptive.

Private Universities Recommendations to Overcome COVID-19 Pandemic

Dr. A. Prasetyantoko stated Atma Jaya set its endeavors contributing to overcome the Covid-19 pandemic. “To overcome this problem, we have performed multiple services and programs. Moreover, our university’s Artificial intelligence (AI) and Biotechnology experts are currently working on the BPPT task force team,” Prasetyantoko said.

On his explanations to the house representative lawmakers, Prasetyantoko revealed that Atma Jaya had been performed few programs with the support of faculty and alumni. These programs include online consulting services related to COVID-19, including counseling services, legal advisory assistance, tax, and financial consulting services with consultants who are certified and licenses by the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Indonesia. Other programs are online drug services with Pharmacy study programs, and also a drive-thru rapid test service by the Atma Jaya clinic on BSD Campus.

PPE supply for medical workers has been an issue lately. To encounter this issue, the Joint Movement from the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (Gerakan Gabungan Fakultas Kedokteran dan Ilmu Kesehatan) has risen a charity to help procure PPE. The PPE has been distributed to 94 Health facilities: 64 hospitals and 33 clinics and community health centers (Puskesmas) allover Indonesia.

On this occasion, Atma Jaya proposed three recommendations to the House Commission X, as follow:

  1. To encourage telecommunications companies to provide exceptional services to universities. During the pandemic, the need for internet connection been rising since classes have been switch to online learning. This means additional costs for lecturers and students for internet access. Telecommunications companies demanded to offer lower prices to students and lecturers. The pandemic shows the readiness of lecturers and students to undertake online lectures as well as showing innovations related to online learning. On the other hand, permitted study programs to administer distance learning are encouraged to develop and perfected their learning quality. This is to supports equitable access to education in Indonesia.
  2. Rise Budget for Health Research. This pandemic is a strong reason to allocate more budget to Health research, specifically for vaccine discovery, the Covid-19 precaution, and treatment. Policymakers, especially Health policies, should refer to research studies. Besides, it allows universities to collaborate in conducting research.
  3. To encourage Business and Industry Sector (DUDI) to deliver joint CSR. Tax exemption for DUDI, who collaborates with universities during the pandemic. Super deductible tax for companies undertaking CSR for underprivileged students. It is crucial for the sustainability of education and the future of the nation’s human resources.

Member of the House Commission X, Desy Ratnasari who also presented at the Hearing Meeting delivered her views to the Ministry of Education and Culture (Kemendikbud) to not only allocate their budget to the teaching hospitals. “This is the Dikti’s duty to recommend the minister of education and culture to allocate its budget and cooperate with adequate private universities’ teaching hospitals in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic,” said Ratnasari.