Indonesian University Students Hail Court Ruling on Education Legal Entity Law
Camelia Pasandaran & Anita Rachman
The Constitutional Court, criticized last week for rejecting a judicial review of the Anti-Pornography Law, is back in favor, at least with university students and education experts, after annulling the controversial Education Legal Entity Law.
But the celebrations on Wednesday were cautious as students and experts said the fight was not over.
“This is not the end of the struggle,” said Imaduddin Abdullah, head of student executive body of the University of Indonesia.
“We should ensure that education remains cheap, of good quality and easily accessed by all students. This is another inspiration for us to keep up the fight.”
The government claimed the 2008 law, which cut government spending on higher education, would improve education by making universities more independent, especially in managing financial affairs. But critics said the law would hamper the ability of citizens to have equal access to education.
Education expert Darmaningtyas said all universities that had become autonomous entities should now be turned back into public universities.
“It might not reduce the cost of education but it should be covered by the state to guarantee the same access for rich and poor,” he said. “The source should be from our tax.”
But Suryo Baskoro, spokesman for Yogyakarta’s Gadjah Mada University, one of the universities granted autonomy, said it was impossible to be forced back to the old system without autonomy and flexibility.
“I am not sure that we should go back to the old system,” he said. “I think there will be some regulations to accommodate our needs. But we respect the decision and will follow whatever the regulations say.”
Ade Irawan, a public service monitoring coordinator with Indonesia Corruption Watch, welcomed the decision but also warned that people should not let down their guard.
“All of us should still be aware of any possibilities, of new regulations, that have the same spirit of privatization,” he said. “We support educational autonomy, such as how lecturers teach students, but not privatization, under which universities could raise the tuition.”