Research, Technology, and Higher Education Minister, Muhammad Nasir, has encouraged Indonesian universities to start implementing distance and online courses.
He argues this is a crucial step to compete in the era of industrial revolution while providing more opportunities for people to access the higher education.
“We have created the standard for online courses, but there are some rules that we need to revise. Several universities including UGM have started using blended learning at the early stage,” he said after inaugurating Learning Center FEB UGM, Saturday (8/4).
Ministry of Research, Technology, and Higher Education, said the Minister, regulates the rules of online-based courses through cyber universities. He targets 30 universities to provide such courses this year. As is the case with UGM, online courses can start with blended learning that combines face-to-face classroom with online learning method.
The innovation of Indonesian universities becomes important amidst the plan of foreign universities to operate in the country soon. He opines local institutions should not oppose the move as the competition could actually be a motivation for them to continue improving education quality, continue to innovate and change for the better.
“The presence of foreign universities does not necessarily decrease the quality of Indonesian universities. In Malaysia, for instance, the country’s local and private universities are actually developing.”
Aside from optimizing the development of information technology, Nasir also encourages higher education to advance student competence in foreign languages, especially English. In the era where people are increasingly connected, language literacy is considered as the initial asset to step into the world.
“This is important because the world communicates in English. A TOEFL score of 450 is no longer enough. Therefore, universities should prepare infrastructure and the supporting facilities to foster students with this competence.”
Faculty of Economics and Business Dean, Eko Suwardi, Ph.D., also expressed a similar idea. He explained the school encourages students to improve their language proficiency, especially for international program students, to prepare themselves in facing global competition.
One of the strategies is by encouraging students to apply for student exchange programs or summer courses abroad, and also by inviting international students to participate in learning activities at UGM.
“I believe students should gain adequate international exposure. This aims to increase their competitiveness and prepare them for the future,” said Eko.
In addition to inaugurating the Learning Center, Nasir and Eko also attended the seminar titled Information Session on Quality Improvement of Indonesian Universities: Toward a Better Quality of Business and Economics Higher Education at the same day. In this event, they discussed various policies, strategic challenges, and active steps in response to the dynamics of Indonesian education.