Paper presented at International Conference on Education Innovation,
Surabaya-Indonesia, October 14, 2017.
Jim Clifton’s (2016) article entitled “Universities: Disruption is Coming” awakens universities from a beautiful dream. Clifton questions the university's existence because two large companies Google and Earnst & Young do not use college diplomas when hiring new employees. This means that the two big companies do not trust the university's diploma any longer. Actually Clifton is not the first one to question the existence of the university. Before that, Wagner (2008) also considers why even the best schools do not teach the survival skills that our children need to be successful. Taking the case in Indonesia, Samani (2010) found that the competence of university graduates did not match the competence required by the world of work
The phenomenon that the university lags behind the industrial world, not just in preparing graduates. In research, especially applied research, universities are also lagging behind the industrial world. The latest humanoid robots are generated by researchers at the company, including Boston Dynamics-United States, Raphaël Tassart-Belgium, Softbank-Japan. The latest electric car was developed by Tesla -United States, Honda -Japan and Audi -Germany. Samsung is preparing 2,000 engineers to produce the latest electric car. Naisbitt (1994) in his popular book entitled “Global Paradox” predicts that PhD will be more generated by research institutions in the company and not at the university.
The development of science and technology seems to be the cause of the gap between the industrial world and the university. Technology products have penetrated into all aspects of life, including in offices, factories and even households. As a result work patterns change very dramatically. For example, e-money that is currently driven by the government of Indonesia will cause the pattern of transactions to change. E-money combined with mobile banking will make people not need much cash, so we no longer need a bank office. The World Economic Forum (2016) estimates that 2 billion jobs will be disappeared in the coming decades and 35% of core skills will change between 2015-2020. Advances in robotics and autonomos transport, advanced materials, biotechnology and genomics will be a fundamental underpinning of future industry changes and will therefore require very different skills than currently available (WEF, 2016)
This paper is not meant to say that university is outdated and should be removed, but how to reinvent university in order to fulfill its function, especially in the field of education and research. In the technological era, university can not stand alone but must cooperate with other relevant institutions. Hospitals for medical faculties, banking and other financial institutions for the faculty of economics, the industrial world for engineering faculties, schools or training institutes for teachers' faculty and so on.
For Indonesian nowdays context, it is too ambitious to push all universities to become research universities. It would be wise to encourage some universities to become teaching universities and only a few numbers with excellent resources are encouraged to be research universities. Encouraging all universities to be research universities will make them frustated because they do not have adequate human resources and facilities. Finally the research university is only “a slogan” and is not supported by the actual research activities.
Teaching university is not lower in position than a research university, because it has very important responsibility in preparing graduates to fulfill the need for labors which are required for the development of a country. To be a good teaching university, the university must work with institutions where graduates are prepared to work. Thus, the relevance betwen what is learned on campus and what the future of the workplace will be is connected. Technological advances will make the dynamics of employment change rapidly. Therefore, teaching universities should have flexible and adaptable programs with those changes. Otherwise the phenomenon mentioned by Clifton (2016) will continue to occur.
Some universities with good human resources and research facilities can be encouraged to become research universities. But from the beginning it must be realized that the research requires a big cost and can not produce findings quickly. Some research universities should be encouraged to focus on basic reaearch in cooperation with government research institutions, such as LIPI, BATAN and so on. Some research universities are encouraged to focus on applied research in cooperation with R & D at company. Such collaboration will strengthen resources while making research projects more efficient.
The study program that has been referring to the field of science is time to be reviewed again. The study program is designed to produce graduates in accordance with the needs of the community and the world of work. Education in the digital age does not take into account how long it takes and how students go through it, but that must be guaranteed what can be done after the students graduate (Moller, 2011). Moreover, Indonesia already has Indonesia National Qualification Framework (KKNI) which integrates formal, non-formal and informal education. In line to KKNI there is no difference between the three. What matters is the competence of the graduates.
Mono-discipline and narrow study programs at S1 level do not seem to fit the demands of this digital age. Work in the digital age requires someone to have multitasking capabilities, because specific and repetitive work will be done by machines (Konayuma, 2015). In fact, many types of work are the intersections of two or more disciplines, so that the study program to produce labor must also be a blend of several disciplines. The study program should be flexible, which can be closed once the workplace does not require the graduate, while it can open a new course if the world of work requires it. Undergraduate students simply take 60% of the course load in the course taken and the rest can be taken in other courses of interest.
Graduates learning outcomes must be the integration of specific skills which are the underlying field studied with generic skills that are provisions for self-development and social interaction. Four C (critical thinking, creativity, communication and collaboration) is the most important generic skills. However, the integration of generic skills with specific skills should lead to problem solving creatively, especially in the field studied by students (The Economist Intelligence Unit, 2015).
What about lecturers? Because the development of science and technology is often faster in the world of work, the lecturer needs to have field experience, especially about the material being taught. Reading books and journals alone is not enough, because the complexity of field experience is not easily put into books or journals. In addition it is certainly too late compared with the field, because it requires time of writing and publishing. Therefore, periodically the lecturers need to go to the field to learn real technology development in the world of work
Since the study program is multidisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary, lecturers should not be home based in the study program it self, but in the source unit. The source unit is a lecturer's place for conducting academic and/or research studies, such as research centers, laboratories, departments and the like. The source unit should not be monodisciplinary. For example, in renewable energy research center may be some lecturers from mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, chemical engineering or chemical science will work collaboratively. In policy research center lecturers from various disciplines can work together. Most current research projects must be resolved in a multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary way.
Based on the above thought, linearity must be given a new meaning. Linear should not be the same between S1, S2, and S3. Linearity must be interpreted as the consistency of the field occupied. It is possible for someone with an X field background to pursue the field of Y. If the person concerned has been engaged in the Y field long enough and consistent and produces sufficient academic work, it is very likely that the concerned is recognized as a expert in Y.
The university's exclusiveness is also time to be terminated and encouraged to build a university consortium, especially for postgraduate and undertaking specific research projects. Through the consortium, a university group can open the necessary courses of study by employing lecturers and facilities they have. To handle research projects that require a wide range of expertise, some universities can also build a consortium, that making it more efficient.
Clifton, Jim. (2016). Universities: Disruption is Coming. http://news.gallup.com/opinion/ chairman/191633/universities-disruption-coming.aspx. Downloaded at January 7, 2017, 21.06 pm.
Konayuma, Gabriel. (2015). Challenges and Enablers of E-Learning Policy Implementation in Vocational Training Institution. https://emergeafrica.net/challenges-and-enablers-of-elearning-policy-implementation-in-vocational-training-institutions-in-zambia/. Downloaded, September 20, 2017: 08.43 pm.
Naisbitt, John. (1994). Global Paradox. New York: William Morrow and Company Inc.
Peraturan Presiden Republik Indonesia Nomor 8 Tahun 2012 tentang Kerangka Kualifikasi Nasional Indonesia.
Samani, Muchlas (2014). Rethinking Education for the 21st Century: An Indonesia Case. A paper presented on ASAIHL Interntaional Conference at NTU Singapore, December 14-16, 2014.
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Wagner, Tonny. (2008). The Global Achievement Gap: Why the Best Schools Don’t Teach the New Survival Skills Our Children Need amd What We Can Do About It. New York: Basic Books.
World Economic Forum. (2016). The Future of Jobs: Employment, Skills and Workforce Strategy for Fourth Industrial Revolution. Geneva-Swisszerland: World Economic Forum.