Country Listing

Indonesia Table of Contents


Higher Education

Indonesia's institutions of higher education have experienced dramatic growth since independence. In 1950 there were ten institutions of higher learning, with a total of 6,500 students. In 1970 there were 450 private and state institutions enrolling 237,000 students, and by 1990 there were 900 institutions with 141,000 teachers and nearly 1,486,000 students. Public institutions enjoyed a considerably better student-teacher ratio (14 to 1) than private institutions (46 to 1) in the mid-1980s. Approximately 80 to 90 percent of state university budgets were financed by government subsidies, although the universities had considerably more autonomy in curriculum and internal structure than primary and secondary schools. Whereas tuition in such state institutions was affordable, faculty salaries were low by international standards. Still, university salaries were higher than primary and secondary school salaries. In addition, lecturers often had other jobs outside the university to supplement their wages.

Private universities were operated by foundations. Unlike state universities, private institutions had budgets that were almost entirely tuition driven. Each student negotiated a one-time registration fee--which could be quite high--at the time of entry. If a university had a religious affiliation, it could finance some of its costs through donations or grants from international religious organizations. The government provided only limited support for private universities.

Higher education in the early 1990s offered a wide range of programs, many of which were in a state of flux. Nearly half of all students enrolled in higher education in 1985 were social sciences majors. Humanities and science and technology represented nearly 28 percent and 21 percent, respectively. The major degrees granted were the sarjana muda (junior scholar; roughly corresponding to a bachelor's degree) and the sarjana (scholar or master's degree). Very few doktor (doctoral) degrees were awarded. Few students studying for the sarjana muda actually finished in one to three years. One study found that only 10 to 15 percent of students finished their course of study on time, partly because of the requirement to complete the traditional skripsi (thesis). In 1988, for instance, 235,000 new students were admitted for sarjana muda-level training and 1,234,800 were enrolled at various stages of the program, but only 95,600 graduated.

Discussion about how to improve Indonesian higher education focused on issues of teacher salaries, laboratory and research facilities, and professor qualifications. According to official figures, in 1984 only 13.9 percent of permanent faculty members at state institutions of higher learning had any advanced degree; only 4.5 percent had a doctorate. Since doctoral programs were rare in Indonesia and there was little money to support education overseas, this situation improved only slowly. Despite these difficulties, most institutions of higher education received large numbers of applications in the late 1980s and early 1990s; in state institutions less than one application in four was accepted. One of the most serious problems for graduates with advanced degrees, however, was finding employment suited to their newly acquired education.

The University of Indonesia, founded in Jakarta in the 1930s, is the nation's oldest university. Other major universities include Gadjah Mada University (Indonesia's oldest postindependence university, founded in 1946) in Yogyakarta; Catholic University and Institut Teknologi Bandung, both in Bandung; and the Institut Pertanian Bogor in Bogor. In the early 1990s, there also were important regional universities in Sulawesi, Sumatera Utara, Jawa Barat, and Irian Jaya.

Data as of November 1992