Indonesia, home to over 270 million inhabitants, boasts one of the world’s largest higher education systems. Unfortunately, enrollments have outstripped capacity and gross enrollment ratio (GER) remains below optimum levels (GBG 2019). Scholarships provided by government have helped address this problem while in 2012 leading public universities were granted some autonomy allowing them to raise fees and accept more students who can pay, though this initiative proved controversial and was ultimately abandoned (Heyward and Sopantini 2013; Welch 2011b).
Indonesia stands in stark contrast to its ASEAN neighbors in terms of higher education institutions (HEIs). They tend to be lower quality and more expensive. Furthermore, inequalities between rural and urban areas as well as within Indonesia persist despite ambitious plans for world-class universities which remain unrealized; conventional analysis attributes these problems to insufficient funds, human resource deficits, perverse incentive structures and administrative shortcomings.
Religious and ideological beliefs also play a vital role in education. Religion-inspired ideology can have a major impact on curriculum implementation; for instance, Islamic organization Muhammadiyah runs 172 higher education institutes (HEIs) in Indonesia as well as several thousand schools; Nahdlatul Ulama – the world’s largest independent Muslim organization – has presence at University of Gadjah Mada Bandung as well as other universities; yet it can be hard to pinpoint exactly which influences are formal or informal.