By: Dr. Dimas Rahadian Aji Muhammad, S.TP., M.Sc. (Lecturer of the Faculty of Agriculture (FP) Universitas Sebelas Maret (UNS) Surakarta/Coordinator for Partnership and International Services Technical Implementation Unit UNS)
The current education institution paradigm demands a university to have a good reputation at the international level, especially for a university envisioned as a World Class University. Global research activities and publications are the determining factors in establishing universities’ international reputations. In the last decade, Indonesia’s international publications have proliferated. Quoted from Scimagojr, Indonesia was ranked 57 globally in 2010, and in 2020 the rank was improved dramatically to 21st place out of 231 surveyed countries. However, as Purnell (2021) highlighted in his article in the journal Scientometrics, most international publications by Indonesian researchers were published in proceedings. In general, the quality of articles published in proceedings is not on par with the articles published in scientific journals, even though they are both “international” and indexed by certain institutions.
The determining factors that may affect Indonesia’s international scientific publications include limited funds and facilities. Based on Directorate General of Higher Education data, Indonesia has more than 4,000 higher education institutions, including universities, colleges, institutes, and polytechnics, with more than 120,000 lecturers/researchers. Under these conditions, it is somewhat impossible for the government to provide sufficient research facilities and funding for all universities to be engaged in research with an international reputation. With these limitations, every institution and individual is required to be creative in providing research facilities and funding to support high-quality research.
Collaboration among Universities
Universities collaboration is an alternative solution to this problem. It is undeniable that universities in developed countries have access to better facilities and funding both in terms of quality and quantity. The research funding in this matter can come from the partners’ university internal funding, or it may also be an external institution that provides research grants. Collaboration with reputable universities will also increase the opportunity to obtain research grants from external parties.
Some of the international collaboration advantages for universities in Indonesia include: (1) as a solution to the limited research facilities; (2) improving Indonesia’s academics competency in conducting quality research; (3) accelerating latest knowledge and technology transfer from global partner universities to Indonesian universities; (4) increasing the opportunity for publication in reputable international scientific articles and scientific forums, and at the same time (5) increasing international recognition of Indonesian universities. Collaboration initiated in a particular research area can be an excellent initial step to a more extensive collaboration.
Currently, there are demands in establishing collaboration with global universities included in the QS100 ranks. Indeed, the benefits of collaboration will be accomplished more quickly if an Indonesian university cooperates with the Top QS100 universities. However, establishing a collaboration with Top QS100 universities is certainly not easy, especially if the gap between the two institutions is too extreme. In such conditions, collaboration with other universities not included in the QS100 becomes an alternative. Additionally, it is relatively easier to communicate and collaborate with universities on similar level, which provides greater opportunities due to the need for improvement in both institutions.
Growing Opportunities and Consequences
Good performance displayed by Indonesian universities in front of international university partners can positively affect the development of its cooperation activities. For example, starting from research collaboration, it can develop into a student exchange where international students will take classes on Indonesian campuses. Inbound students are crucial because they have become benchmarks for a university’s international reputation.
But of course, there are consequences and responsibilities for Indonesia’s campuses to initiate such excellent collaboration opportunities in student exchange. Indonesia campuses need to prepare competent human resources in scientific fields and the capability to host international classes using proficient English language usage during the teaching and learning process as the minimum requirement. Consequently, universities in Indonesia must prepare themselves as optimally as possible, and preparing a compatible and reliable internal resources and systems in a university to support international cooperation. Therefore, the success of international cooperation is ultimately determined by certain individuals and is also significantly affected by the readiness of all university elements. With internal resources readiness, the acceleration of university quality improvement in research and education through the internationalization program is expected to be achieved as soon as possible. ***