The Jakarta Post
Hani, a third-year student at the School of Economics at Jambi University (Unja), was shocked to learn that to graduate next year, it was not enough for her to complete all her compulsory subjects and her thesis.
In January this year, Unja issued a regulation requiring all Muslim students graduating with Bachelor's and diploma degrees to enclose a letter stating that they had reached khatam (recital of the entire Koran).
Christians do not escape the regulation: Protestants are required to achieve edification of the church, while Catholics must submit a sacrament of confirmation. Those professing other faiths must also meet religious requirements.
'I don't know anything about the rule. The university authorities haven't provided any information,' said Hani, adding that her fellow students were equally in the dark.
The regulation, formulated in Unja Rector Decree No. 467/UN21/KM/2015, applies to Bachelor's and diploma graduates in the 2015/2016 academic year.
Unja students and alumni affairs vice rector Amrizal Lukman insisted that the regulation was aimed at improving students' morality, in view of high crime rates, which he attributed to declining morality in wider society.
'Promiscuity, violence and so on are prevalent now. This is due to a lack of understanding of religion,' Amrizal said on Friday.
As such, he said, a serious measure was needed, hence the regulation.
The university, he claimed, had publicized the rule for some time, and he stated his confidence that students would back the 'noble cause'.
'If their faith is strong, the students will go on to become better leaders,' said Amrizal.
Founded in 1963, Unja is the biggest state university in Jambi province. The university offers dozens of study programs in 10 schools.
Jambi provincial council member Bambang Suseno said his council supported the policy, as it would be able to create spiritually rich graduates.
However, he said he expected university authorities to conduct a proper technical study prior to implementing the policy.
'Those who fail to reach khatam should not necessarily be barred from graduating from university,' said Bambang, adding that Unja should provide Koran recital tuition to help students meet the requirement.
Article 42(1) of the 2012 Higher Education Law stipulates that university students are eligible to receive a diploma as recognition for completing their studies in a higher learning institution.
Contacted separately, the director general for learning and student affairs at the Research and Technology and Higher Education Ministry, Intan Ahmad, said that he had only recently learned of the Unja rector's decree and would assess whether the regulation contravened existing regulations.
'If the university insists on implementing the rule, it must provide supporting facilities to make sure that its students are able to fulfill the requirement by the time they graduate,' he said
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