Sun, 21 May 2000

INDONUSA Esa Unggul: British education

As companies follow the global e-business paradigm, they are ever more seeking to recruit savvy, intelligent, business-led employees to help spearhead their organizations in this new electronic age of commerce.

In order to gain any sort of foothold on the corporate ladder, it is crucial to have the most up-to-date qualifications, and inherent in that is the choice of college or university students opt for.

Heading the list in the business studies world here is INDONUSA Esa Unggul in Kebon Jeruk, West Jakarta.

For what sets this seat of business erudition apart from others in Indonesia is the validation of its Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration (BABA) program by the renowned University of Wales. The ties between the two universities mean that after the successful completion of studies at Campus Emas, a degree is awarded which is a British one.

Founded in 1986, INDONUSA quickly became accredited by what was formerly known as the Ministry of Education and Culture, now the Ministry of National Education.

Also at the university is the Faculty of Technology with a major in Industrial Technology and Planning and Urban Development Technology, the Faculty of Public Health and The Faculty of Law, which concentrates on International Business Law, with its Faculty of Social and Political Science specializing in International Public Relations.

Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration director Michael Goodwin says that the validation by the University of Wales is the key to the success of the university and that the Welsh university has stringent standards and performs checks throughout the year.

"We teach to their agreed syllabus and they validate it by carrying out a full quality check on us at all times. We are not allowed to change any of the rules and regulations unless it has been previously agreed with the University of Wales. Then we are allowed to introduce it the following semester. We are visited by them three times a year," he said.

When BABA final examinations are being marked, an internal examinations board convenes, comprising Goodwin and all of the lecturers. The board then appraises each student, subject by subject, to determine if the results they achieved were expected. "But we don't just ask one lecturer about a student," says Goodwin, "we ask the opinion of all the lecturers, because we all know the students. Sometimes there can be a personality clash or a misunderstanding between a student and lecturer. This way, we get a more balanced view."

When the University of Wales comes to the INDONUSA, they check all the markings of all the exams. That is the validation. When they have completed their check, it is the turn of an external examinations board which is appointed by the University of Wales.

Goodwin said that INDONUSA is the only Indonesian university allowed to do this and that the validation leads to further opportunities for the students.

"Because we are accredited by the Ministry of National Education, after our degrees have been presented, any graduate who wishes to go on for a Masters, usually an MBA, will be accepted (on those courses)," he said.

While it may be difficult at first for new students, all the courses at INDONUSA are taught 100 percent in English. The lecturers are not allowed to explain anything in Bahasa Indonesia, even if they are trying to explain a difficult word.

"There are a number of reasons for this," says Goodwin, "one is that it is an English course and it should not be taught in another language. Another is that if it is explained to them in Bahasa Indonesia, they might have trouble retranslating it into English. And also, I have students of 11 nationalities and they might not understand Bahasa Indonesia."

The university runs a foundation course which is at preuniversity level. Students are first interviewed, their records studied and faculty members will sometimes talk to their teachers to get a more intimate view of the student. If it is felt that the student is not mature enough, or if their English is not at a satisfactory level, or indeed if the student is not mature, or ready, for university life, they are placed on the foundation course.

Otherwise, students must have a minimum TOEFL score, or the equivalent, of 500 to enter the degree course.

Goodwin places credence in the system he created, centering on what was best for the university before developing any further degree programs further.

"When I took over, I was asked by the rector to bring in a number of courses, but I was not ready to do that. My personal belief is that if you diversify too much you end by up doing nothing properly. The BABA is now successful and is recognized as such in the U.K. Now I'm bringing in an MBA which will open in September and that will be from the University of South Australia," he said.

Goodwin says that, initially, during the onset of the economic crisis, the university lost a number of students, but that this was more than made up for by the students who returned from other countries due to their parents' inability to keep them in overseas universities.

"Students used to come here because they couldn't afford to study abroad. But the inference has changed. Now the students are happy that this is a British-quality standard and they see no need to go overseas anymore," he said.

One aspect of INDONUSA's BABA program that will delight parents is that of cost.

"Roughly speaking, because of fluctuating exchange rates, if a student were to go to the U.K and pay for accommodation and do the same course in Wales, it could cost Rp 425 million. Here, it costs rather less than Rp 100 million," said Goodwin.

The BABA program also deals with the wired world. For, as industry analysts predict, more businesses than ever are going online in order to tap into markets normally outside of their physical boundaries.

Says Goodwin: "It's pretty important and ought to be taken seriously, both for the future and now. Currently, e-business is incorporated into our six Business Information Systems modules. I am also trying to establish contact with foreign universities to establish an e-business degree."

There are lecturers from a variety of different countries, including India, Australia, America, the Netherlands, the U.K. and Indonesia. "Although this is a British degree, we treat it as an international business administration course. I have changed 12 lecturers in the last two years in order to get the quality and commitment I require," said Goodwin.

Graduates of the BABA program are advised to take up immediate employment for a minimum of two years before they consider doing an MBA. The university has been able to find, even in these difficult economic times, jobs for those who choose this option, usually with international firms here.

Previously, the university was not permitted to advertise or promote itself until it had a proven track record with the BABA program. Now that the University of Wales is satisfied with the program, INDONUSA is able to do so. Regular presentations are held at international schools here to let students know about the university and what it offers.

"Now that we are able to advertise using the University of Wales, we are accepted by the international schools here and they allow us to make presentations. We expect our student intake to dramatically change toward the end of the year." he said.