The Jakarta Post
Students nationwide have written an open letter to urge Education and Culture Minister Nadiem Makarim to reduce the Single Tuition Fee (UKT) for university education, as they were studying at home amid the country's COVID-19 outbreak.
The National Association of University Student Executive Bodies (BEM-SI) posted the open letter dated May 27 on its Twitter account @aliansibem_si.
[ SERUAN AKSI MEDIA ]— Aliansi BEM Seluruh Indonesia (@aliansibem_si) June 2, 2020
Seluruh rekan mahasiswa, media kampus BEM SELURUH INDONESIA dan Seluruh Elemen Masyarakat Indonesia.
The letter invites Nadiem to a public meeting with student representatives to discuss the matter, and also calls on all universities to waive the UKT next semester for all students.
“[The ministry should] instruct all higher education institutions to freeze tuition fees next semester due to COVID-19,” the association wrote, pointing out that the parents of most students had been affected financially as an impact of the pandemic.
The BEM-SI added that all universities should support their students by providing free mobile data packages, supplies and medical assistance. It also urged the ministry to punish any institution that failed to provide students support during the health crisis.
According to the BEM-SI's survey on the issue, around 83 percent of student respondents said that their parents’ incomes had declined as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Around 77 percent of respondents said they did not know whether they could pay next semester's tuition.
The survey also showed that around 92 percent students at universities nationwide spent a maximum Rp 50,000 (US$3.53) per week on mobile data to study at home.
Furthermore, it found that students who were unable to return to their hometowns due to the COVID-19 social and travel restrictions needed food aid.
Nadiem issued a circular on March 17 that instructed higher education institutions to help their students by providing mobile data packages, supplies and medical care. The BEM-SI claimed, however, that a number of institutions had yet to comply with the minister's instructions.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, higher education acting director general Nizam assured that neither universities nor colleges would increase their UKTs, stressing that any increases in the UKT had been decided prior to the pandemic.
“Any decisions on the UKT should not create problems for students,” he added. (kuk)