Towards a Higher Level
    Category: Improving Education By : Gloria Haraito Read : 730 Date : Monday, March 02, 2015 - 19:54:34

    Toto Santiko Budi for Forbes Indonesia

    Mohamad Nasir has plenty of work to do in the next five years as the new minister of research, technology and higher education. His is a new post that puts a focus on higher education as well as innovation and R&D. One big goal is improving national competitiveness through innovation, education and research, including an increase in the number and quality of higher education graduates. Prior to his current post, Nasir, 55, was the dean of the economic and business faculty at Diponegoro University. He earned his magister of science from the University of Gadjah Mada and doctorate from the University of Science Malaysia. Aside from his educational activities, Nasir is also involved in the Islamic organization Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) as advisor of the NU Bachelor Association Central Java. Nasir gave Forbes Indonesia an interview in his office last January.

    What is your vision for research and technology?
    My goal is to improve Indonesia’s national competitiveness supported by innovation, qualified workers and research. Innovation is a requirement for research. Research is comprised of fundamental research, applied research and prototype research. It will be excellent if it does not end up in a library. Currently, most research ends up at library, proving that the industrial sector does not use it in an optimum way.

    What is your vision for higher education?
    We plan to increase the quantity and quality of our higher education graduates. As of now, from 21 million people aged ranged 19 to 23, only 30% or around 7 million receive higher education. This year we hope to increase that number to 31% and by 2019 grow it to 35%.

    What are the challenges in transforming research into reality?
    More innovation, graduates and R&D can be created if there are good institutions and good human resources. A good human resource means a qualified researcher or professor. We can judge the quality of researchers by their research and educational backgrounds. The higher the educational background the better their learning process. Also the institution where researchers are doing the research should have a good reputation. We have to always encourage professors and researchers to get the best possible education, especially doctoral degrees.

    What is the national budget for R&D?
    The state budget for R&D has always increased every year, yet the ratio is still low compared to the total state budget. In 2013, the state budget for R&D was Rp 5.1 trillion or around 0.3% of the state budget. Meanwhile, the national gross expenditure for R&D (GERD) in 2013 was Rp 8.1 trillion or 0.1% of Indonesia’s GDP of Rp 9,083 trillion. So it was far less than 1%. Compared to our neighbors, this ratio is also low. For example, R&D spending in Malaysia is 1% of GDP, for Thailand, it is 0.3% and for Singapore, 2.6%. With our low R&D budget, research in Indonesia will not be very productive. For the next five years, I will push the R&D budget to become 0.5% of GDP.

    Where does the GERD come from?
    About 74% of GERD comes from government, while the rest comes from the private sector. It is reversed with Singapore whereas about 80% of GERD comes from private industries. It means that the business sector sees research as unimportant.