Innovation cannot be fully operated without public space and highly grows in an unlimited atmosphere – a spirit of Independent University – (Nadiem Anwar Makarim, Minister of Education and Culture)
The policy of “Freedom to Study” and “Independent University” have already dominated in various discourses of formal atmosphere, namely in the classrooms or in the cafes, both by academic community and societies. Various comments and responses are also thrown out, in pros and contras.
Higher education has faster potential effect for this changes of qualified human resources, because the output of graduating from university and working in a certain job or involving in a best practice is rapidly changing. This is an extraordinary potential when we could increase the university quality, especially in the Bachelor Degree and is also one of the fastest method to build strong human resources.
Through the methods, these qualified universities are the first institutions that move forward the fastest, because they are close to the world of works. These institutions should also truly have a fastest moving innovation of all others academic units, because they change and move flexibly. However, there are some facts showing that several universities have not paid a significant attention on the aspect of innovation. This becomes problems because innovation is the most important thing in the field teaching and education, research, and community service. Innovation cannot be fully operated without public space and it highly tends to grow in an unlimited atmosphere. That is, the so-called, a spirit of Independent University.
Through the policy of “Independent University”, Ministry of Education and Culture (Kemendikbud) wished to have Indonesian university could gain more adequate spaces for academic staffs to adapt to current development. This policy focuses on the easing of accreditation process, facilitating students to study outside the classroom, giving rights of developing new study programs and also giving easiness for Badan Layanan Umum (BLU) and Satuan Kerja (Satker) to become PTN Badan Hukum (PTN BH).
One of the most important concepts carried out by recent modern higher educations is the academic freedom. The concept was firstly formulated by German philosopher, Wilhelm von Humboldt (1809). He stated that academic freedom gave students to freely choose certain study programs as they want, while the teachers have rights and freedom to teach classes based on their expert field.
Giving rights of developing new study programs requires universities to closely observe the current development in order to be able to offer fields of study that are not expired quickly and are able to survive in the future, such as data science, artificial intelligence, bio-economics, e-commerce and so on. The existence of these new study programs provides students greater freedom to choose fields of study that are in line with future employment trends. Students would become the most benefited party under this established policy, likewise their rights for studying outside the classroom (internship), student exchange, community service, entrepreneurship and others, as well. By studying outside the classroom, student would be able to implement their knowledge to real world, as well as increase competitiveness in looking for a job.
A German philosopher, named Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1809) emphasized that one of the characteristics of modern universities is showed from its graduates’ ability to apply their knowledge to the real world, not only good at theorizing (Fichte: 1807). Although it is not fully required and only [one of the] options, the opportunity for studying outside the classroom shows us a huge good news.
If we take a look on UNESCO publication data, there are approximately 5 million students around the world who join student exchange program. The amount was significantly rising compared to the previous period, which only reached 4 million students. Internship program, as well, has also reached the amount and been the most selected program in Indonesia. Last year, Kemenristekdikti decided that doing 45-hour internship is equal to 1-credit course, therefore students do not lose credit while doing the internship process.
If the students are the most benefited party with the policy of Independent University, what about the teachers themselves? Teachers, especially in Indonesia, have 3 main duties: (i) Education and Teaching, (ii) Research, and (iii) Community Service. These are, the so-called Tri Dharma of University. Although it may commonly look simple, in fact it is hard for the teachers to do them in practice. It is because Tri Dharma is also related to the implementation of research project and publication in the reputable journal as part of teachers’ report of BKD (Bahan Kerja Dosen): a credit that has to be received in implementing Tri Dharma in a certain period.
A research of Doyle and Hind (1998) on 582 teachers in various universities in England showed that there were 77% of male respondents and 74% female respondents who admitted that their workload has been increasing for the past 5 years, especially when it is related to administrative which has minimum relevance to their main duties as academics. Furthermore, research of Dewi et al (2019) observing samples on teachers in University of Padjadjaran indicated that there are high workloads of the teachers which also affect negatively to their mental and physic health. This not only happens in Indonesia, but also in other countries.
The will of Minister for Education and Culture to encourage and make Indonesian education adaptive and up-to-date could be fully understood and supported by all parties. However, this cannot work very well if the teachers themselves are burdened with administrative duties which have no direct effect to the development of science and technology. It is better for the Minister to re-observe and review teachers’ workload, especially those which relates to non-academic duties. These methods should be carried on in order to make the idea of Independent University fully implemented by both students and teachers, make the Tri Dharma of University beneficial and make it not turn to be Catur Dharma or Panca Dharma because of the administrative tasks.
Policy of Independent University
The first program of this policy is the universities, both private and state university, which have already developed new study programs. The universities themselves requires several terms and condition, including that they should have A-or-B-ranked accreditation and also have collaborated with organizations or universities included in QS Top 100 World Universities. Exceptions apply to health and education study programs, meanwhile all new study programs will automatically get C-ranked accreditation. The Ministry will cooperate with other universities and partner of study programs to hold a tighter supervision and carry out “Tracer Study” every year, as well.
Re-accreditation Process Carried Out Automatically and Voluntarily
The next point of this policy is to make accreditation process in the university much easier. Currently, the accreditation process has been already carried out every five years, which, with the new policy, will make it automatically renewed. The re-accreditation program is automatically for all levels and voluntarily for universities and study programs in particular. Evaluation will also be further done by National Accreditation Board – Higher Education (BAN-PT) if a quality decrease is found. The decrease is measured based on public complaints accompanied by concrete evidence, as well as sharp decline in the number of new students who register, and graduate from study programs or universities.
Requirements to Become Legal State University Are Made Easier
The third policy of Independent University closely relates to the freedom of PTN Badan Layanan Umum (BLU) and Satuan Kerja (Satker) to become PTN Badan Hukum. Ministry of Education and Culture will make the requirements much easier for PTN BLU and Satker to become PTN BH without even attached by accreditation status. Up until now, there are only A-ranked university which can be a PTN BH..
Three-semester Study Rights outside Study Program and Definition Change of “Semester Credit”
In this case, students are given freedom to choose their credit outside their campus for as much as 2 semesters or equal to 40 credits. Students, in additional, can also take credits in other study programs inside the campus for as much as 1 semester of total semester to be taken. The Ministry assesses that there is a lack of students’ current credits for learning outside the classroom which, in fact, does not encourage them to look for new experience. This is also shown by the fact that there are still, for example, student exchange program or field work program that also actually delay students’ graduation. Every credits which students have taken are defined as an “activity hour”, not as “studying hour” anymore. The activity here, could be defined as studying at the class, internship or field work in a company or organization, student exchange, community service, entrepreneurship, research, independent study, or other teaching activity in rural area.
A simple analogy about the concepts of “Independent University” and “Freedom to Study” may illustrate past and present conditions. Let us imagine this:
A Bachelor Degree Program student has to swim to an island in a wide sea. At the present time, our students (or swimmers) are only trained one single style of swimming. This single style is considered as their study program. They study and concentrate 100% on it and are also only trained in a single swimming pool which illustrates their campus. Today, all students only study one specific discipline of knowledge and train in a safe swimming pool: no stream, no extreme weather and equipped with various available safety as well. They think no further that they have to swim to the wide sea. The next question is: how, by all means, could they jump on to the sea and survive with no scratch at all?
The point is – students should better study various kind of disciplines of knowledge. They should learn how to swim in various styles: backstroke or freestyle, and how to float in the sea (as we imagined before). They also should be trained not only in a swimming pool, but also trained in the sea as well. This is actually the purpose of studying 3-semesters outside their study programs: to make our students be prepared and ready to jump on the real world. Hopefully. ***