More Students Enter Universities Through Special Schemes

2 Juli 2009 Artikel Pendidikan

Yuli Tri Suwarni , The Jakarta Post , Bandung Thu, 06/04/2009 12: 51 PM The Archipelago

Students from poor families will likely find it increasingly difficult to enter state-owned universities in the coming years, as the number of seats offered through special entrance schemes, which require higher admission fees, are steadily increasing.

The Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), for example, will offer 1,140 of its total 2,985 seats (or 38 percent) to students who pass a special entrance test this academic year. As of 2004, just 13-20 percent of seats were made available through this scheme.

Padjadjaran University (Unpad), also in Bandung, offers 3,795 of its 10,000 seats (also roughly 38 percent) through a special scheme. Previously, less than 30 percent of total seats were made available through the scheme.

The Bandung based Indonesian Education University (UPI) even makes some 80 percent, or 3,500 of its total 4,205 seats, available through special entrance mechanisms including a special test and a special skill and interest trail scheme. This represents a marked rise form 40 percent it offered in 2007 and the 38 percent it offered last year.

Asep Gana Suganda, secretary of the local committee of the 2009 university entrance tests (SNMPTN) said the committee only printed 28,000 application forms because of the increasing trend of students choosing to take special entrance tests over the national SNMPTN test.

Asep said the number of senior high school graduates taking regular university entrance tests continues to decrease.

Over 55,000 students took the regular tests in 2001, but just 28,000 took it last year, even though the committee had prepared 30,500 application forms.

"Now we print fewer application forms to prevent us from experiencing the same financial losses we incurred last year," Asep told a press conference earlier this week.

Vice Rector of ITB Adang Surachman, who oversees academic affairs, said that the high admission fees applied to the special entrance test scheme did not seem to influence applicants' preference for the special test over the regular one.

"The number of students enrolling through the special tests continues to increase," Adang said.

He said 7,850 students enrolled for the special entrance test scheme this year, a significant increase from 6,500 last year. A minimum admission fee of Rp 55 million is required - no upper limit is set.

Yet, Adang added, ITB was acting within the law on higher education, which allows higher education institutions to raise 33 percent of their total operational costs from students; in ITB's case the total operational cost is Rp 600 billion.

Weny Widowati of Unpad told a similar story, saying her university had been receiving more students through special entrance tests, which Unpad itself prepares and conducts.

Weny said Unpad requires an admission fee of Rp 10 million at the minimum for the schools of literature and husbandry and Rp 175 million at the minimum for the school of medicine.

"We indeed have a huge number of applicants for the special entrance tests but we try our best not to violate the law," Weny said.

Adang, who is also a member of the SNMPTN committee, meanwhile said that starting this year the national entrance test, scheduled for July 1 and 2, will require applicants to undergo an academic potential test which will contribute up to 30 percent of the total score of the admission test.

He said the test would be applied because experience shows that many students are only good at answering test questions in order to pass an exam but in fact lack motivation to study and end up dropping out of school.

"That's why we offer a special entrance test scheme through a psychological test so we can see how determined an applicant is to study or whether he/she is good only at answering test questions," Adang said.

Adang added that the drop out rate of students accepted through special test schemes was around three percent in the first year and was almost zero afterward. The attrition rate of students admitted through regular tests, however, is around two percent annually or 10 percent by the end of the study period.

"It's because those selected through the special scheme are really those who, psychologically, have a high level of motivation to learn," Adang said.