Officials of Diponegoro University stood firm on its decision not to admit Malaysian students, even though the Ministry of National Education urged the state-run school to lift the policy.
Agus Naryoso, spokesman for the Semarang university also known as Undip, said that the school had carefully considered all aspects of its decision before its announcement on Tuesday.
Undip rector Susilo Wibowo said that the policy was an expression of “nationalism,” referring to the strained relations between Malaysia and Indonesia, which most recently centered on Malaysia’s attempt to claim a traditional Indonesian dance.
“Never waver in a decision once it’s made. We know the consequences,” Agus said.
The university did say that there were other factors behind the policy. One of them was the belief that slots offered to Malaysians should now go to Indonesian students.
Agus said Undip was already aware of the ministry’s appeal, but he insisted that the university had looked into its decision several times before agreeing to pass it.
Malaysian students began to arrive at Undip 10 years ago, mostly to study medicine. Of the 200 slots reserved in the department for new enrollees, only four are allotted to international students, which go mostly to Malaysians.
An international student in the medicine department is expected to pay a total of close to Rp 200 million ($20,000) in fees throughout their stay at Undip. While Agus acknowledged the hefty sum being paid by the foreigners, he said that Indonesian students were smarter than their Malaysian counterparts and deserved the slots intended for the foreign students.
Undip’s literature and culture departments continue to admit students from India, Thailand, Turkey, the United States and Vietnam.
Arief Rachman, an education expert and professor at the State University of Jakarta, said that several factors can be attributed to the creation of policies.
“[But] it does not help an institution to take an action and decide on a policy based on emotions,” Rachman said.