Funding higher education for human capital and social justice in Indonesia

Pelawi, Muhammad Arifin (2021) Funding higher education for human capital and social justice in Indonesia. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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With the introduction of the Uang Kuliah Tunggal (UKT) policy in Higher Education Act 2012, Indonesia’s policy indicates an attempt to implement both human capital for competitive advantage and social justice concepts within its higher education system. The Government’s planning documents had increasingly emphasised the need for higher education to produce graduates that can be competitive at a global level, whilst the participation in higher education needed to be equitable. Public HEIs are expected to come up with effective and efficient responses to both economic and social problems.

This research is aimed at investigating how the objectives of human capital accumulation were put into practice to implement the education for all as required by the Constitution. There is some inherent tension between these two missions. In the bottom ladder on implementing the UKT policy, the public HEIs must face a dilemma for acting on the conflicting action and rule in the policy text. For example, the dilemma comes from the need to pursue higher funding while maintaining certain affordable tuition fees, to pursue excellence while maintaining a place for the disadvantaged students and to pursue competitiveness while maintaining equity.

The data of this study is investigated with interpretive policy analysis and bottom-up implementation approach. Thirty-two respondents from three public HEIs in Indonesia participated in this study to explore the enactment of UKT policy. To support the data, document and news analysis related to the implementation of the UKT policy is also conducted.

The findings of this study showed how the respondents have different interpretations of how UKT policy was enacted. Only one institution did the UKT based on the initial design, but it needed to minimize the expansion of access. The other two institutions follow the idea to expand the students but limit the admission for students with low tuition fees. On the other hand, all public HEIs must operate below the standard cost needed for delivering good quality of education. The lack of funding put priority of allocation on qualification’s prestige instead on the education itself.

I argue that the policy has neither achieved its objective of advancing social justice or competitiveness. This is due to an overemphasis on the economics aspect by the Indonesia Government, coupled with lack of funding and big gap in political power. Higher education is translated as the means to the labour market and in the lack of funding, this has resulted in HEI focused on qualifications rather than learning. The lack of funding in turn arises from an interpretation of low tuition fees as a proxy for social justice and limited funding capability from the government from low tax income.

Social justice is only interpreted as cheap tuition fee policy in practice. The social justice as believed by the respondents somehow seems to be relevant with libertarian justice as described in Brighouse's (2004) book. This condition is contradicted with the policy document where the government admitted that to guarantee the right to get education for all, the citizen needs an affirmative admission policy. This policy has been provided in the documents called Mandiri admission test. However, in practice the Mandiri path is only admitted to the students who can pay a high sum of entrance fee and high tuition fee. This clearly does not conform to the Indonesia Higher Education Act 2012.

There were many inferences in this research and conform many literatures that the competitive value in economic objective has conflict to social justice objective. On the other hand, low funding with weak legal and administration capability in countries in the South Hemisphere can be a big barrier to pursue human capital for competitive advantage. It is suggested that Indonesia focussed more on the social objective of higher education as it used their limited public funding well.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Supported by funding from the Indonesian Education Endowment Fund (LPDP).
Subjects: L Education > LC Special aspects of education
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Supervisor's Name: Hermannsson, Dr. Kristinn and Valiente, Dr. Oscar
Date of Award: 2021
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2021-82453
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 22 Sep 2021 12:07
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2022 15:02
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.82453

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