An Indonesian government official says about 1,000 private colleges in the country face closure for providing poor quality education. (Photo by Romeo Gacad/AFP)
Indonesia is to shut down almost a third of its privately run colleges for failing to meet required academic standards, according to a senior government official.
The government will revoke permits for about 1,000 private colleges to prevent them from receiving new students, as these institutions have regularly produced low quality graduates, Patdono Suwignjo director-general of the Ministry of Technology and Higher Education's science and technology department said.
Indonesia currently has more than 4,500 colleges, of which about 3,500 are privately run, including more than 40 Catholic ones.
No Catholic institutions were on the government hit-list.
"The colleges have to close because they can't go on offering below par education," news portal Tribunnews.com quoted Patdono, as saying.
Suwigno said the colleges for the chopping block are mainly ones with small campuses, a lack of lecturers and students, and ones regarded having poor quality courses and managerial problems.
"Termination will be carried out gradually," he said, adding that the government will also give them the option to merge with other institutions.
The move has faced a barrage of criticism.
"The government should support private colleges because they were established to respond to the needs of certain regions," Franciscan Father Vincentius Darmin Mbula, and chairman of National Council of Catholic Universities told ucanews.com.
Although no Catholic institutions will be shut down, the priest said, the closure policy shows government's inconsistency and lack of commitment to support private institutions.
Bernadette Setiadi, a psychology professor at Atma Jaya Catholic University and deputy chairwoman of the Association of Catholic Universities of Indonesia admitted there is a lack of quality in higher education in Indonesia.
However, she said shutting down such a huge number could create serious problems and even conflict in society if not done properly.
"Those that cannot be improved maybe close them down, but those that have the possibility of improving should be helped and given the opportunity to better themselves," she said.
In order that no Catholic college is targeted, her association will offer help to Catholic institutions to boost their performance, she said without elaborating.
Similarly, Stephany Febriyanti, a university student in Jakarta said that instead of closing them down, "the government should offer more support by helping to provide better facilities and lecturers."
According to the World Bank, Indonesia ranks last in terms of education quality among the 10 member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.