Remarks of President of the Republic of Indonesia at the Meeting of the Indonesian State University Rectors Council, 13 September 2021, at the Auditorium of the Faculty of Medicine of the Sebelas Maret University, Surakarta City, Central Java Province
Assalamu’alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,
May peace be upon us all,
Greetings of Virtue.
Distinguished Coordinating Minister of Human Development and Cultural Affairs,
Distinguished Governor of Central Java Ganjar Pranowo,
Distinguished Chairperson of the Indonesian State University Rectors Council Prof. Dr. Jamal Wiwoho, S.H., M.Hum., Distinguished Vice Chairpersons, Board of Trustees, and all Members of the Indonesian State University Rectors Council, Distinguished University Rectors and Ranks.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We all notice that the Industrial Revolution 4.0, technological disruption and current COVID-19 pandemic have accelerated the great waves of change, a change of the world. So, the uncertainties we will face are great. Once again, there will be great uncertainties.
Therefore, higher education must facilitate students to develop their talents and change old patterns of the education. Students should not be restrained by study programs only in the faculty. I have said it many times and I will keep repeating it. Once again, we must facilitate students as much as possible to develop their talents that are not necessarily in accordance with their majors or faculties. We have to remember that the choice of majors or faculties is not always based on their talents. And that mismatch is sometimes felt by the students during college. We all know that a student can have a career that is far from his major during college. For example, as experienced by Minister of Health Budi Gunadi Sadikin. Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin was a student at Faculty of Nuclear Physics at Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) and then became a banker, President Director of State-owned Bank Mandiri, and now he serves as Minister of Health.
Since college student’s talents must be facilitated. Why is it important? Because we will implement hybrid concept amid the global uncertainties and major changes of the world. Thus, students must understand everything, including mathematics, statistics, computer science, as well as language. In terms of language, it is not only English, but also a coding language. Please, pay attention on these.
The world changes rapidly and even faster due to pandemic situation. What does it mean? What is the solution? Students do not need to change their study programs or move to another faculty to pursue what I have said earlier. Instead, we must give students the opportunity to take courses according to their talents. This is what we must facilitate. What does that mean? Increase the number of elective courses, both on campus and off campus.
Once again, we are in a transition era of great world change that we must anticipate. We must give the students the freedom to study, to learn from anyone, to learn from practitioners, to learn from industry because most of them will later become practitioners, lecturers, researchers. That is the essence of Freedom to Learn (Merdeka Belajar) in which students are free to learn and universities also have the freedom to innovate.
As I have said earlier, we will implement hybrid concept including hybrid knowledge and hybrid skills. To date, many jobs disappeared, many old jobs disappear but many new jobs also appear. This is what the higher education should anticipate. This is the speed of change that we really did not expect before. The change also speeds up amid pandemic. We must immediately enter transition era and start adapting to changes like these. Therefore, students must be prepared to be ready to learn, ready to learn English, ready to learn coding language.
In term of hybrid skills, for the example, doctors. Now, doctors must also understand robotics because surgery can be operated by advanced robotic and through remote surgery. It is happening now and we have to catch up with this. What does it mean? The faculty of medicine should provide courses about robotics. If we do not quickly change and adapt, we are left behind. Another example, Bogor Agricultural University (IPB) should adapt agricultural technology (agrictech). I was overwhelmed to remember [the change]. When I just saw one [change], another [change] appeared, and then more [changes appearing] in the next day.
Furthermore, all of you as leaders, rectors, ranks of state universities should be able to quickly adapt to these changes. Who is able to adapt quickly? Higher education. Those who can bring our state to enter transition era to face great wave of changes are higher education. It means that we need skills for new things, which we did not have before. We all also have to keep updated on technology. For example, agricultural technology, namely field fertilization using drones, irrigation using technology, harvesting, soil processing, everything using technology considering the massive change of the technology.
Once again, I would like to underscore that knowledge changes fast. Now, lecturers give lectures about subject A. The next semester, maybe subject A is no longer relevant. Moreover, if the subjects taught are about knowledge from 20 years ago. This is actually happening and we have to tell the real. Changes happen everyday. Subject A taught this semester might be outdated if it is still taught the next semester. Please be careful about this.
Therefore, ability to adapt with disruptions, uncertainties is an important key to be mastered by all of us, including rectors, lecturers, and especially students. Do not let students only learn routine things. Please be cautious. Do not let students learn boring things. Once again, please be cautious. Do not let students not dare to try new things because now we can learn everywhere.
University must be able to produce exemplary students with healthy body and soul, good deeds, and great national visions. It is not an easy task for us but it must be accomplished. If it is not accomplished, we will be stagnant. Once again, students with healthy body and soul, good deeds, and great national visions.
Therefore, rectors and ranks are not only obliged to educate students on campus, in the class. Please remember this. Rectors and ranks are also obliged to educate students off campus. Please be cautious. On campus the students are taught to have good deeds but outside campus there are students who abuse drugs. We have to protect them, reach them. On campus the students are taught about Pancasila and nationalism but outside campus there are students who become extremists. What is the point of our higher education?
I would like to remind all of you that rectors have responsibility to protect students on campus and off campus. We also have to pay attention on small things including student’s nutritional needs. I remember, when I was studying at the university, many students were infected with hepatitis and thypoid fever. Why did it happen? Because vendors where students bought foods used only a container of water to clean the dishes. They used it all day long. Please, provide running water in student cafeterias. Do not let students spread infections to other students. It is a small problem but important. It is useless if smart students always consume unhealthy foods.
Once again, university must be able to produce exemplary students, adding that, rectors have responsibility to protect students on campus and off campus.
That concludes my speech on this auspicious occasion.
I thank you.
Wassalamu’alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh. (AP/LW)