Universities playing their part in achieving a Just and Civilised Indonesia

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Professor Dr Mohammad Nasih

Professor Dr Mohammad Nasih, Rector of Universitas Airlangga, looks at the challenges Indonesia is facing and some university responses.

“… innovative research is expected to bring real benefits to society and contribute greatly to the improvement of the nation’s competitiveness …”

Indonesia as one of the most highly populated countries in South East Asia is developing rapidly across many and various sectors, from economic and social to humanitarian and education. Various breakthroughs are being attempted by the current administration with the aim to make Indonesia a better nation in the future.

In the field of education, the Indonesian government through the Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education is currently expecting some prominent universities in Indonesia to take their places among the Top 500 ranked World Universities.

Universities and their research have been identified as key to developing the human capital of Indonesia and to bringing benefits and improvements to the nation. One of the state universities tasked by the ministry to achieve world top 500 status is Universitas Airlangga in Surabaya and I set out below some of the steps we are taking and initiatives we are starting to enable our university to both succeed and play its part.

Universitas Airlangga has been identified as a high potential institution not least because of its long history in making contributions to research and education in Indonesia, especially in the medical field. The university has produced thousands of doctors who serve the community across the archipelago. The university, originating from a Dutch medical school, NIAS, has become an institution with 14 faculties and one postgraduate school.

As one of the Indonesian state universities, Universitas Airlangga has taken its responsibility seriously to make major efforts of improvement in all aspects of management, from its human resources, information system, organisational culture, to its implementation of Higher Education Tri Dharma (Education, Research, and Community service).

Indonesia has identified the requirement for university faculty to be well educated. By the end of August 2018, Universitas Airlangga had 1,996 faculty of whom 97% were educated to masters’ or doctoral degree (including medical specialist and subspecialist) level. Those with a doctoral degree or studying for one have increased dramatically over the last three years. The target is for the number to rise from the current 44% with doctorates to 52% by 2020.

Faculty need to be able to both research and teach well, so, to improve the competence and qualifications of lecturers, the university has been active in establishing partnerships with various institutions abroad and seeking opportunities for human resources quality improvement. Lecturers’ quality improvement has been conducted as planned to meet the required standards for becoming a World Class University.

Human resources quality improvement is also conducted through reciprocal partnerships with other universities abroad. This can occur through schemes of inbound staff exchange such as visiting professor, adjunct professor, or joint research which have been the priorities in order to give greater contribution to the global community.

Universities are also required to modernise their systems. Since mid-2011, Universitas Airlangga has implemented its integrated information system called Universitas Airlangga Cyber Campus (UACC) to manage in an integrated way its data, information and organisational knowledge. UACC was developed by accommodating interests of internal and external stakeholders of the university.

As an academic institution, Universitas Airlangga’s climate is built on three foundations: the life of the mind, participatory learning, and interdisciplinary inquiry. The life of the mind shows that ideas are really meaningful, valuable to be discussed and focused on learning, not just on earning marks. The university is constantly engaged in broadening the range of degrees and vocational studies it offers across both professional and doctoral programs.

Education must be available to all Indonesians who reach the required standards. The university’s 39,095 students in 2018/19 came from 33 of the 34 provinces of Indonesia meaning that Universitas Airlangga’s education is being successfully accessed for prospective students across the country. And, student admission criteria are set to guarantee equity and accessibility for all Indonesian citizens and for foreign applicants with a study permit from the government. Importantly, there is no different treatment given to any applicant based on gender, social status, race, religion, cultural, political or physical backgrounds.

Active steps are taken to ensure that bright and aspiring students from poorer backgrounds will be able to access a university education. The Indonesian State Law Number 12 in 2012, Article 74, obliges a state university to admit at least 20% of its intake from poorer students, with great academic performance, from 3T (disadvantaged, remote and outermost) areas. In 2018, 7,471 students (27.97% of the bachelor’s degree and three year diploma program students) were receiving scholarships from 49 schemes at Universitas Airlangga. At March 2018, the scholarships’ value was Rp 49,961,160,000 (approx US$3.5m).

Internationalisation is also encouraged. International students can apply for an Airlangga Development Scholarship, designed to provide better accessibility for those with excellent academic performance to study at Universitas Airlangga. Further international students come through schemes such as the part time and full time inbound student program.

In November 2018, the number of inbound exchange students was 448, while the outbound exchange students numbered 686. And graduates are getting jobs. In the last three years, tracer study data for first employment has shown that the average waiting period for graduates to get their first job was less than three months.

Accreditation is an important parameter used to measure the quality of programs. As of 2018, programs had been assessed and certified by an AUN-QA team in Medicine, Law, Pharmacy and Veterinary Medicine, Biology, Chemistry, Management, English, Public Health, Development Economics, Communication Science, Psychology, Aquaculture, Midwifery, Dental Medicine, Accounting and Nursing. A Management Master’s program was also certified by ABEST21. Five undergraduate degree programs are now also certified by ASIIN (Accreditation Agency for Degree Programs in Engineering, Informatics/Computer Science, the Natural Sciences and Mathematics) in Pharmacy, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics.

National and international quality management and measurement system standardisation is also recognised as important. The Airlangga Integrated Management System (AIMS) based on ISO 9001: 2015, IWA 2: 2007 and Malcolm Baldrige. The university also gained ISO 21001:2018 certification. Quality assurance and accreditation of research laboratory management is currently in progress through KNAPP certification and ISO/IEC 17025:2008.

Universities also need to be recognised on the international stage for research output and quality. Various programs on research and publication development aim to achieve research performance improvement at national and international levels and the last three years has seen steady improvement including on the Scopus and ISI Thompson databases. Research collaborations include with Tokyo University, Kobe University, Nara University, Lab. Genomic South Korea, Tsukuba University, Kitasato University, Osaka University, Biotech Thailand, NIID, Nagasaki University, OITA University, and Timor Leste Police Force.

Community service as one of the Tri Dharma (Three Pillars) of Higher Education is the manifestation of an institution’s responsibility to make contributions and solve problems in the community, so the university is not only be the ivory tower which cannot understand its surroundings. As an example, in 2017, Universitas Airlangga inaugurated Ksatria Airlangga Floating Hospital. In its humanity mission, the floating hospital reaches the remote islands in Indonesian archipelago to provide healthcare services. Recently, it has supported the casualties of the natural disasters in Lombok and Palu-Donggala.

Indonesian higher education is expected to be oriented to the improvement of graduates’ competences which can be used in the industrial sector after college, not merely focused on their excellent academic performance during college. In this regard, Universitas Airlangga with its experts in various fields will always improve the quality of academic, professional and vocational education towards world-class excellence.

Excellent human resources development in Indonesia through innovative research is expected to bring real benefits to society and contribute greatly to the improvement of the nation’s competitiveness. It will also contribute to the achievement of a Just and Civilised Indonesia.

Professor Dr Mohammad Nasih, SE, MT, Ak, CMA, is Rector of Universitas Airlangga. He was previously the university’s director of finance. From 2011 to 2015, he was the Head of the Islamic Economics doctoral program. From 2010 to 2015 he was vice rector II for finance, assets, human resources and organisations. Professor Nasih gained his bachelor’s degree from Universitas Airlangga, his master’s degree from the Bandung Institute of Technology, and his doctorate from the Universitas Airlangga. In his research, Professor Nasih focuses on the areas of accounting management, public sector accounting, intellectual capital and human capital, and government and business strategies. He is affiliated with organisations including the Association of Indonesian Economics Bachelors, the Indonesian Accountant Association, and the Indonesian Islamic Economics Society.