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Indonesia: A revamped Ministry combining Research and Higher Education

In Indonesia, the newly merged Ministry of Research and Technology and Higher Education has officially started its work at the end of January, after a presidential decree had set out the new ministry's organisational structure and functions. The Ministry has five Directorate-Generals: for learning and students; science, technology and higher education institutions; scientific, technology and higher education resources; strengthening research and development; and for strengthening innovation. 

Minister of Research, Technology and Higher Education Muhammad Nasir, appointed last October after the elections, said the Ministry has been revamped to improve the country’s higher education system an make it more internationally competitive. Of particular relevance for the county is the need to tackle the high rate of youth and graduate unemployment by increasing the employment prospects of graduates and improving innovation. 

Minister Nasir also announced that a new revised state budget is currently being discussed in Parliament in order to increase the funding for higher education and research, and its endorsement is expected later this month. Among the most controversial intentions of the Minister there is the idea to substitute the Private Universities Coordinating Body (Kopertis) - established by the government to improve the quality of private higher education and to improve communication and collaboration between private and state universities – with a new body called the National Higher Learning Institutions Coordinating Body, that will manage both private universities and public universities. However the measure is seen a way to increase ministerial control over higher education institutions and to further marginalize private universities.