UNS welcomes more Bidikmisi

The central government's plan to expand the Bidikmisi scholarship program for students from poor families has received a warm welcome from the state Sebelas Maret University (UNS) Surakarta, Central Java.

UNS Rector Ravik Karsidi had been wondering if it was possible for his Bidikmisi medical school students to keep their scholarships while they continued their professional education to make them ready to work in the medical world. During a visit to UNS, Education and Culture Minister Muhammad Nuh said earlier that a new policy had been made in relation to Law No 12/2012 on the Bidikmisi national program.

He said the new policy did not just oblige universities to allocate 20 percent of their places to students from poor families but also required them to provide additional scholarships to Bidikmisi students at schools of medicine until they finished their professional education.

Nuh added that the same policy was also for Bidikmisi students at teacher training schools who would continue to receive the scholarship until they too finished their professional studies.

Bidikmisi was implemented in 2010. The program obliges universities to allocate 20 percent of their enrollment to students from poor families. A special law on the program was later issued to give it a strong legal basis.

This year, Nuh said, the government had allocated Rp 1.4 trillion (US$143.7 million) through the program for some 91,000 students.

Separately, Ravik said that UNS had received some 1,800 students through the Bidikmisi scholarships since 2010. This year it proposes to have 1,200 on the program out of the total of 5,200 new students in 2013, an increase from 1,020 last year out of a total of some 5,000 new students. Students accepted through Bidikmisi scholarships are exempted from tuition fees and get a living allowance of some Rp 600,000 per month according to their needs.

The program was launched to help cut off poverty chain and open up opportunities for students from poor families to enjoy tertiary education.

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