A number of studies, documents and knowledge sharing events have focused on the need for Indonesia to rapidly improve outputs from higher education, including a well-trained work force and improved research and innovation. May was an intense month of knowledge sharing around some of the challenges of the Indonesian research and higher education sector, including issues around quality and links to industry. The highlight was the Launch of the Two White Papers by AIPI
Four Diagnostics by Policy Research Institutes (PRI) University Partners
On 15 May at the University of Gadjah Mada in Yogyakarta, four PRI university partners launched a diagnostic study addressing barriers to university research. As also reflected in the AIPI white papers, Indonesian universities are not producing sufficient world-class scientists or publications. This is reflected by the number of quoted international scientific articles, which even falls below Bangladesh, Kenya and Nigeria. Countries with fewer higher education institutions such as Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand are able to produce many more international publications. The four case studies (University of Indonesia, University of Gadjah Mada, Atmajaya Catholic University and the State Islamic University (UIN) Syarif Hidayatullah in Jakarta, look closely at the factors behind this at structural, institutional and individual levels, as well as factors promoting research productivity.
Reality Check Approach on Perspectives and Experiences of the Research Culture at Universities in Indonesia
This report, to be published in June, presents the main findings of the Reality Check Approach study which was conducted in November and December 2016. It was designed to understand and gather insights from university academics and support staff on their perceptions and experiences of the culture of research at universities in Indonesia. This study took place in six universities, selected to include both public and private universities, small and large, universities within and outside of Java, a range of classifications (aspiring to ‘top’ universities) and all with social science faculties.
The report findings detail the context in which academics pursue research from their perspectives and their particular experience of doing research. Deeper meaning is given to these conversations with academics, as they were informal and involved extended interactions over a period of one week. They also included interaction with their colleagues, family and friends.
The report concludes with a number of study implications:
- Not all academics are interested in doing research and some actively prefer teaching. Many shared thoughts on the credit system of accumulating credit results in a ‘culture of doing the minimum’. Given the responsibilities of teaching, administration and promoting the university, research is often the lowest priority.
- Universities rarely promote their research competence as a selling point in attracting students.
- For those who are motivated to do research, the challenges often seem to outweigh the gains, with excessive regulation, dominance of seniority over merit and enthusiasm, insufficient intellectual freedom and disproportionate and demoralising administrative burdens.
- Some of these challenges could be overcome by (i) provision of bigger research grants less often, for example more substantial grants on a two- or three-year basis. Together with relief from teaching duties during the award year this would ‘make (DIKTI grants) more meaningful’; (ii) separation of those academics who want to do research into a ‘research fellow’ stream as done within many international universities; (iii) provision of competitive grants specifically for junior academics which would enable them to immerse themselves fully in research in-country; and (iv) provision of some parts of research grants as a lump sum, and better process (rather than outcome) monitoring procedures.
- While there seem to be fewer women academics motivated towards doing active research, those who do could be better supported by being: (i) relieved of teaching duties to pursue their research properly; (ii) offered larger research grants less frequently (every two to three years) or when their child care responsibilities are less intense; and (iii) provided with child care facilities on campus.
- To improve academic rigour and quality assurance of research, systems of independent peer review of research study designs, research protocols and research papers need to be improved and somehow not linked to the credit system.
National Workshop on Evaluation of Research Centre and Community Services (Lembaga Penelitian dan Pengabdian Masyarakat) in Higher Education Institutions
During April and May, KSI supported Kemenristekdikti to carry out and disseminate an evaluation study for university-based research centres (LPPM, Lembaga Penelitian dan Pengabdian Masyarakat). Currently, university research centres are classified as Mandiri (self-sufficient), Utama (advanced), Madya (middle) and Binaan (under supervision). This is used as the main reference for Kemenristekdikti in allocating research grant grants and providing autonomy to universities to manage these grants. However, KSI diagnostic studies have shown that the classification is arbitrary and not very helpful. The result of the assessment has been disseminated in Jakarta, and Makassar that will contribute to the formulation of policy recommendations to the Government of Indonesia on how Kemenristekdikti can better support university study centres. Recommendations include improving the decentralisation mechanism for research grants to research and community centres themselves, building the research capacity of polytechnic and other colleges, and enhancing the coaching clinic of the Directorate of Research and Community Service (DRPM) for the centres which have recently upgraded to the middle level.