Earthing the university

… The mission of the university and its commitment are to the present and future generations, safeguarding the prosperity and welfare of the world with the best in education and scientific research. Not just for ‘superficial’ rankings.

The above statement is probably the ideal mission and goal of universities. However, sometimes that goal has been deviated because of pressure on the universities as ‘economic goods’ which must have the selling point in the market. This issue was raised by Prof. Wiranto Arismunandar (former rector of Institut Teknologi Bandung [ITB]) when giving a speech on the world rank of ITB held in ITB East Hall on May 10, 2008. My attention is attracted by the wisdom thinking of Prof. Wiranto. The following is the first paragraph of his paper which is translated from Indonesian:

Aspiration of ITB to be World Class University (WCU) is good, but it should not make us worry and panic, because this is not the most important thing. We should be worry if the ITB is useless and can’t serve the nation-building of Indonesia. The initiator of WCU ranking must have a certain plan and the various interests, and therefore, no need to worry about that. Business, student intake, political, social, economic, and various other interests, may be a few of the many reasons that underlie such interests. It should not make us anxious and vulnerable, trapped and shackled by the ranking’s issue. The most important is, ITB must be useful for the development of Indonesia and also participate in solving problems of this nation. ITB should make itself mainstay and become a national strength to overcome various challenges, in order to make the nation prosperous, respected and independent. ITB should be proud of and preserve the honor of Indonesian people. That is why we must be more serious in implementing our duties and obligations. Thus we can obtain better results and make continuous improvements. If later ITB achieve recognition as WCU, it will make us more motivated to give the best service to our beloved country. Do not be ambitious to reach a high rank, we will be ashamed if we do not serve the country and do not do anything for the development of Indonesia.

Prof. Akhmaloka, the new Rector of ITB period of 2010-2014, also voiced the same issue. His mission as ITB rector is to bring the ITB to produce something useful to society by utilizing the local uniqueness of Indonesia.

In conclusion, one suggests that it is more important to “earthing the university” rather than pursuing the prestige ranking, because it will provide tangible benefits for society and the country.

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Hadi Nur

Hadi Nur is a full professor at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Johor, Malaysia.

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