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Accountability of Higher Education in Indonesia

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The Essence of Higher Education
Despite the fast growth of Gross Enrolment Rate (GER) in higher education in Indonesia, there is a concern that higher education will not be able to contribute to national development as expected. Higher education is supposed to be the driver of the nation’s competitiveness through the roles of the graduates and institutions. Otherwise, it will create social problems nationwide where the graduates or higher education leavers will either be unemployed or be involved in non-productive sectors or be utilised by international agencies/institutions. Higher education institutions (HEIs) will not contribute significantly to national development if they are only producing graduates with very little research and development (R&D) experience.

 

The public spending for higher education has been significant both directly and indirectly. The government allocates a sizeable budget to public HEIs while private HEIs rely very much on student tuition and some philanthropists. The government provides around 30 – 40 trillion rupiahs annually for the higher education sub-sector. There are now more than five million students enrolled in HEIs, and there are around 4000 HEIs operating in various disciplines and regions all over Indonesia. Have those figures contributed to national development and to the nation’s competitiveness?

 

HEIs Accountability
Higher education is considered a human investment, which is a long-term and sometimes intangible investment. The investment usually involves a large budget and therefore people are concerned where the money goes, knowing that the achievement indicators are often intangible and also time consuming, thus people may forget about the investment. If the investment is short-term and tangible, accountability would be easier and the stakeholders could easily do the monitoring.

 

Higher education cannot be a short-term investment, since it deals with the development of human capacity and capability, and therefore any output may be achieved at least after five years while the outcome or the impact to the society can only be seen after at least 10 years. Output is rather easy to measure, but outcome or impact is difficult to measure or identify.

 

Higher education investment deals with a huge budget (both government and private), and most likely the source of this budget comes from taxpayers (as an indirect financing scheme) and from those who pay tuition fees (as a direct financing scheme). Tax-payers and fee-paying students (both are stakeholders) demand an accountable measure showing that their money is properly invested, that the investment will benefit the most of the future generations and that the investment will provide prosperity for the nation.

Table 1: Indicators for successful human investment (from the point of view of stakeholders).

Measurement of HEIs Accountability

  • Effectiveness of HEIs in fulfilling their vision
  • Effective use of funding in achieving HEIs mission
  • Correlation between funding and output
  • Correlation between output and outcome

 

Public responsibility of HEIs

  • Public Responsibility of HEIs
  • Effective use of funding for quality education
  • No discrimination
  • Fairness, equal access, proportional tuition fees

 

Current Understanding Regarding HEIs accountability:

  • Compliance to the law/government regulation/ministerial decree/circular in both financial and academic aspects
  • Accountability to the government – Ministry of
  • Education & Culture (for public HEIs)
  • Accountability to the foundation (for private HEIs)
  • Degree/level of accountability (compliance – short term; outcome – long term)
  • Direct and in-direct accountability
  • Regulation driven accountability vs accountability driven regulation
  • Need for consensus regarding the understanding of accountability

“Membership of the Board of Trustees is the key factor to obtaining public accountability: therefore it is necessary that members represent stakeholders in the widest sense.”

The consensus regarding the definition of accountability has to be agreed on by the stakeholders, including government, public/ community and HEI faculty members and students. Each of these stakeholders has the willingness to sacrifice part of their interests to achieve the ultimate national goal –an Indonesian higher education system with high quality for the nation’s prosperity. To reach the consensus, it is necessary for each stakeholder to change their mindset from self-interest (inward-looking) to public-interest (outward-looking).

 

To achieve accountability, the HEIs should be provided with adequate autonomy so that they can fulfill the government objectives through a proper funding mechanism where the government provides budget to HEIs based on the agreed performance indicators.

 

Performance Indicators for HEIs:

  • Contributions to regional economic development and empowerment;
  • Responsive to the need of the world of work;
  • Broadened student perspectives through interdisciplinary approach;
  • Promotion of excellent study programs and maintenance of ‘specific/unique’ study programs;
  • Quality improvement and excellence;
  • Access for economically disadvantage students;
  • Improved effectiveness and efficiency in conducting education, research, and community development

 

Requirement for Accountability:

  • HEIs have the capacity to operate autonomously in terms of curriculum, financial, and personnel;
  • Legal framework to maintain the consistency of all related units and stakeholders

 

Necessary Affirmative Actions to Achieve Public Accountability:

  • Policy change in higher education;
  • Legal aspects for public accountability;
  • Funding mechanisms

 

Mechanisms to Secure Public Accountability:

  • Membership and governance of the Board of Trustees;
  • Independent validation of HEIs output and outcome;
  • Auditing mechanism to secure the use of public funding to achieve output

 

The existence of the Board of Trustees is the main mechanism to obtain public accountability in the wider sense. With this mechanism, community or public could give opinion regarding higher education strategic development and on the other hand HEIs could provide feedback to the public/community.

 

Membership of the Board of Trustees is the key factor to obtaining public accountability; therefore it is necessary that members represent stakeholders in the wider sense. HEIs are responsible and accountable to public, therefore the membership of the Board of Trustees should fully represent the public. The membership should not be dominated by internal stakeholders, it should be dominated by external stakeholders so that public accountability could be secured.

SATRYO SOEMANTRI BRODJONEGORO

Satryo Soemantri Brodjonegoro is the vice president of the Indonesian Academy of Sciences. He was the Director-General for Higher Education at Indonesia’s Ministry of National Education between 1999 and 2007. He is a Professor in mechanical engineering at Institut Teknologi Bandung (Bandung Institute of Technology), Indonesia.

APRIL 2017 | ISSUE 1

(Re)thinking the Box

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Leaders and changemakers of today face unique and complex challenges. The HEAD Foundation Digest features insights and opinions from those in the know addressing a wide range of pertinent issues that factor in a society’s development. 

Informed opinions can inspire healthy discussions and open up our imagination to new possibilities. Interested in contributing? Write to us at info@headfoundation

Stay updated on our latest announcements on events and publications

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