Tue, 06 Aug 2002

Joy, disappointment color university entrance notices

Muninggar Sri Saraswati, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Monday was an important day for nearly half-a-million senior high school graduates who competed last month for a seat in 46 state universities across the country.

As many as 81,471 students, or 20.1 percent of 404,907 applicants, will soon experience campus life as undergraduate students.

Toni, 17, expressed his joy when he read his name on an announcement board at the University of Indonesia campus in Salemba, Central Jakarta.

"Look! Father, my name's in the paper," the graduate of a private high school in South Jakarta told his father with a big smile.

His father, who accompanied him, looked even happier. He promptly called his wife on his mobile phone to tell her the news.

Toni told The Jakarta Post later that he secured a seat of the reputable Bandung Institute of Technology's school of civil engineering.

"I've been working hard for this, I deserve it," he said, saying that he had joined two preparatory courses for the entrance examinations and sacrificed his leisure time.

Another student, Neli, looked calm seeing her name on the board. Her friends shook hands with her to congratulate her. They, like others, later continued looking at the board, expecting their names to appear on it.

"It is good, but it wasn't my first choice," said the 18-year- old student.

She was accepted by the University of Indonesia school of cultural studies majoring in French.

"I would be happier if I was accepted in the school of economics. But, cultural studies is fine," Neli remarked.

Most students, however, are not as lucky as Toni and Neli. Some of them must struggle for a seat in a private university or a nondegree seat in a state university.

Lili Wardhani did not seem disappointed by the fact that she failed to enroll at a state university.

"I tried my best but I failed. It's OK as I've already been accepted in the law school at a private university," she said.

Lili believes that the standards at private universities are as good as state universities.

"The difference is that studying at private universities requires more money," she said.

Another student who also failed the examination, Renald, claimed that he was not worried although he had not applied for a seat in any private university yet.

"I'll try for a nondegree course at the University of Indonesia," he said, saying that he would apply for an advertising and broadcasting diploma course.

However, Renald expressed his disappointment over his difficulty in accessing the examination committee website www.spmb.or.id, which reportedly had posted the examination result on Sunday afternoon.

"I failed to access the website although I tried all night, but when I was finally able to access it, I found nothing," said Renald, who decided to go to the University of Indonesia campus in Salemba to read the announcement.

Some other students, too, voiced the same complaint.

Soesmalijah Soewondo, the secretary of the examination committee, told reporters that there was an 11.6 percent decrease in participants compared to last year.

Last year, the number reached 458,351 students.

"This has become the trend each year. There are many alternatives nowadays for high school graduates instead of enrolling in undergraduate courses at state universities," she said.