Indonesia is one of the fastest growing economies in Southeast Asia and the fourth most populated country in the world, but it lags significantly behind its neighbors in terms of social science research, international publications and higher education autonomy. This study investigates the policies and institutional practices that currently impinge on the quality and research productivity of Indonesian state universities and researchers.
The report establishes that even post-Suharto, the research environment is marked by institutional barriers, such as a bureaucratized higher education with poor incentives for research production and publication, largely due to the legacy of the past authoritarian, centralized government. The bureaucratic institutional model of state universities has prevented academic and institutional reform from truly materializing. Most academics in the universities are employed through closed and semi-closed recruitment methods. Promotion is most often based on seniority and ties to the senior faculty. There are almost no research scholarships. As a result, almost 90 percent of articles published in international journals on Indonesia are written by academics not living in the country.
Although the government and international donors have invested in research capacity building by providing scholarships for Indonesian academics to study overseas, this has not been enough to undo the effects of past policies. Thus, for institutional reform to truly take form, higher education and institutional policies must be designed to instill a culture of critical peer review, recruitment and promotion aimed at developing and rewarding academic merit.
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