Tue, 30 Aug 1994

Private college forum supports government rule

JAKARTA (JP): BM-PTSI, a forum of private universities, said yesterday that it fully supports the government's plan to regulate the way private colleges are being administered.

BM-PTSI chairman Moeslim Tahir said that after studying the proposal in depth, he does not see the proposed decree of the Ministry of Education and Culture as tantamount to interfering in the affairs of the universities.

Moeslim said the decree intends to set the parameters for national education. "That's entirely the right of the government."

The proposal has drawn protests from a number of private university operators who view it as an attempt by the government to meddle too much in their internal affairs.

Critics are particularly concerned that the decree also lets the government in on some non-academic matters, such as financing and administration.

The government justifies its intention of issuing the decree chiefly to ensure that the interests of private university students are well protected.

In the past year, a number of leading private universities have been beset by internal problems, mostly over the selection of rectors, often at the expense of the students. The decree, if passed, would empower the government to intervene.

Moeslim said he and other executives of the forum were privy to the first draft of the decree, something which had never been done before. "This is the first time that the Ministry of Education and Culture consulted us before issuing a new regulation."

He said the government had also invited the forum, together with legal experts, to work out its own version of the decree.

The first draft of the decree is simply a starting point, and the government has encouraged the debate so that it could improve upon the ruling.

The role of private universities and colleges is getting bigger all the time. There are currently some 1.6 million students registered at thousands of private universities and colleges.

The government-owned colleges number only 49 and can accommodate only 600,000 students. (emb)