Thursday, August 27, 2009

Indonesian Government downgrades certain Australian degrees to diploma status

I see from a post by Tikno,Equalize bachelor's degree with diploma's degree ??, that the Indonesian Government has issued rankings downgrading recognition of certain Australian bachelors degrees to diploma level in Indonesian terms.

For those that are interested, Tikno's post provides a general overview. It includes a link - click here - to an excel spreadsheet setting out course by university by Indonesian ranking. The new assessments were apparently released in July and do not appear to to have been picked up by the Australian media,

According to a story in the Djakarta Globe, the problem arises because Indonesia apparently requires more credit points for an ordinary Bachelors, 144 vs 120. For that reason, Indonesia is ranking Australian bachelor degrees as associate degrees. With perhaps 14,000 Indonesian students studying at Australian universities, this has become a major issue among Indonesian students who are. in effect, required to do extra units.

The issue appears to have been ignored by both the Australian media and local bloggers. I say this with a little caution since it is based on just my own reading/watching. I find this a little remarkable, given the importance of education as an export sector.

The issue of international recognition of degrees is a difficult one because all countries have different rules. In this case, the problem appears to relate simply to credit points (an input measure) rather than standards as such.

To a degree, the discussion on Tikno's blog has been phrased in terms of standards. In a comment, Ramana wrote:

I am not qualified enough to comment on this without having more information. Jim perhaps will. What I do know is that there are a number of fly by night institutions in Australia that rip off unsuspecting overseas students by promising a lot, but not delivering. This is a matter of great concern here in India too. Many of our students go to Australia and return with qualifications that do not compare in quality to their literal equivalents in India.

I think that this is a fair comment. However, most of the Indian students in question are going to vocational colleges, not universities. There are a lot of private vocational colleges, with some established just to allow overseas students to meet Australian immigration requirements. The current Baird inquiry is intended to weed them out.

Australia has quite a formalised system for qualification recognition based on a National Qualifications Framework. However, I have been concerned for a little while about the way in which competition and rigidities within higher education have, at least as I see it, shifted the focus away from students and education.

As it happened, I had just finished a post, Staff performance measurement in Australia's universities, dealing with another aspect of this.

I will watch the response to Tikno's post with interest. I may make the issue a central point in my next week's column in the Armidale Express.


A headline in today's Sydney Morning Herald said We're failing to nurture wisdom, uni chief asserts. My first reaction was positive, but then I realised that in turning back to the past he was advocating one of those very "modern" prescriptive approaches.

I will comment a little later pointing to what I see as key differences with the past. They have very little to do with Steven Schwartz' approaches. I doubt that we can go back, in some cases we really wouldn't want too, but it is (I think) still helpful recording a past world.


Kanani said...

Thanks for the link to his blog. I find this move very disturbing!

Jim Belshaw said...

My first reaction was the same, Kanani, but we need to find out more.

Tikno said...

Thank you to raise this issue, Jim. I'm thinking about the destiny of thousands of Indonesian students in your country when they return to Indonesia and found that their Bachelor certificate is only equivalent with Diploma-3. They have spend lots of money and time. Certainly will sad.

I have response to your comment.

Rummuser said...

Great post Jim. Very balanced and forthright.

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi Tikno and Ramana.

Tikno, I asked on your blog whether the rankings were new. I, too, feel for the students.

Tikno said...

I graduated from Indonesian university in 1997, so have no problem with this new regulation. Beside that my background is business, not in educational field, so I could not make sure whether this rankings is something new or changed from previous one.

But all that I know this controversial policy is NEW, based on the date when these regulation issued by Directorate General of Higher Education, that is 01 July 2009.

I have updated the post and quoting a few of the interesting point from your post. Especially about education as an "export sector"

Jim Belshaw said...

Thanks, Tikno. So the regulations are new. I can certainly see your concern about the reported 14,000 or so Indonesian students in Australia. This makes the lack of discussion here (Australia) even more remarkable.

Jim Belshaw said...

Rereading the story in the Djakarta Globe, Tikno, there is still a question mark because the paper suggests that this issue - lack of recognition - has been around for some four years. So whether the regulations have been further tightened is still unclear to me.

Tikno said...

According to the rules of national education minister, number 26 Year 2009, dated 3 June 2009, in Article 1, Section (4), stated that the list is renewed every year with the decision of the Director General of Higher Education.