Intellectual brilliance is apparently not enough to become a professor in Indonesia. Several academics say that a tolerance of paperwork and bureaucracy is needed.
Sjafri Mangkuprawira, a professor emeritus of human resources management professor at the Bogor Agricultural University (IPB), said he had to wait almost 35 years before he was promoted to professor – despite his lengthy academic and professional resume.
“According to the existing rules, I had to first publish a textbook before I could apply for the [professor]title. But I was just too busy to work on it,” said the grandfather of seven, who also worked as an expert for the Agriculture Ministry and the Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises Ministry.
Sjafri, who has taught at IPB since 1969, published his first textbook, Strategic Human Resources Management, in 2001. Two years later, after he turned 60, the respected scholar was promoted to professor and elected the chairman of the IPB’s academic senate. He retired in 2008.
“I know I was too old when I finally secured the title. But I never regretted it,” Sjafri said.
In contrast, Jasmal A. Syamsu, a professor of husbandry science at Hasanuddin University (Unhas) in Makassar, South Sulawesi, is among a few scholars who have made faster academic progress.
Jasmal, lauded by his colleagues as a prolific writer and researcher, was named a professor in May 2009, just a few months shy of his 41st birthday, making him one of the youngest professors at the university.
“Many people said I must have been working extra hard to reach such a level so soon, but I believe all lecturers are actually able to do the same.” Jasmal said.
“If you learn about our higher education system, you will see that lecturers can actually request a promotion every two years as long as they are able to collect enough promotion points during the period.”
Indonesia’s higher education system promotes university educators based on a point system.
A member of the teaching staff, at the bottom of the scale, requires 100 points to be promoted to associate lecturer, while a professor requires at least 1,050 credit points.
University educators must accumulate credit points in three different areas: teaching, research and social activities.
As a result, a senior lecturer with a doctorate and decades of teaching experience may be turned down for promotion if the applicant rarely published scientific papers or was not involved in community development programs.
However, younger lecturers with a solid research and teaching background are more likely to be promoted faster than their seniors.
Firmanzah, the dean of University of Indonesia’s School of Economics, was named a professor in 2010 when he was 33 years old, making him one of the youngest professors in the nation.
According to the National Education Ministry, there were currently 4,717 professors out of a total of 197,922 university educators at Indonesia’s 83 state universities and more than 3,000 private institutions.
Only 213 academics were named professors in 2010, down from 394 in 2009 and 620 in 2008.
Show me the flaws: National Education Minister Muhammad Nuh (right) answers questions from lecturers during a seminar on building educational ethics and culture in Jakarta in this fi le photo taken on June 22. Red tape at the ministry is blamed to be behind the country’s small number of professors. Antara The unequal distribution of professors poses another problem.
Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta has 329 professors, the greatest concentration in the nation, for example, while Malikussaleh University in Aceh, Trunojoyo University in Bangkalan, East Java, and Khairun University in Ternate, North Maluku, only have one professor each.
“Ideally, every university should have one professor for every subject they teach,” Supriadi Rustad, the human resources director at the ministry’s directorate for higher education, said.
Although the government has no special program to increase the number of professors, Supriadi said he hoped the scholarships given by the ministry to lecturers to pursue doctorates would motivate university educators.
Some academics, however, have say that becoming a professor is not their ultimate goal.
“To be a professor, you have to submit all the certificates of the seminars you attended, along with original version of your publications and articles and a long-list of paperwork. As a person who likes to handle such things on my own, I think such procedures are very time consuming,” Muhadjir Effendy, the rector of East Java-based Malang Muhammadiyah University, said.
Muhadjir, 55, who has led the university since 2000, received a doctorate sociology from Airlangga University in Surabaya, East Java, in 2008.
Aside from academic activities, Muhadjir, a regular contributor to several national newspapers, is the deputy chairman for the East Java branch of Muhammadiyah, the nation’s second largest Muslim political and social organization.
Muhadjir said he had yet received his professorship title due to “administrative matters”.
“Even without the title, many people have already mistake me as a professor,” he said, wryly.