INDONESIA: In a significant development, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology (Kemendikbudristek) has introduced novel regulations pertaining to graduation requirements for students pursuing bachelor’s or diploma programs.
Under the new guidelines, the obligation to produce a thesis as a prerequisite for graduation has been waived. This move aligns with the growing adoption of project-based curricula or analogous approaches in various study programs.
For students who are enrolled in programs that have already integrated project-based learning, the previous thesis mandate no longer applies.
Similarly, students in non-project-based programs can now fulfil their graduation criteria by undertaking a final project, which may encompass diverse forms such as prototypes, projects, and other analogous formats.
Importantly, these projects can be completed individually or collaboratively.
These innovative changes have been formalized through the issuance of Regulation No. 53 of 2023 on Higher Education Quality Assurance by the Minister of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology, Nadiem Makarim.
The minister unveiled this directive during the Merdeka Learning Episode 26: Transformation of National Standards and Higher Education Accreditation on Tuesday (29 Aug)
Makarim elaborated on the versatility of these final projects, highlighting that they can assume various configurations, ranging from prototypes to projects and beyond.
He underscored that this modification does not preclude the option of pursuing a traditional thesis; instead, the choice rests with each educational institution.
Makarim emphasized the autonomy granted to heads of study programs in determining the yardsticks for assessing graduation accomplishments.
This approach departs from the earlier practice of exhaustively delineating graduate achievement criteria in the National Higher Education Standards.
The minister stated that higher education can comprehensively shape attitudinal and skill-based competencies in novel ways. He contrasted this with prior regulations where competencies were compartmentalized into knowledge and attitude domains.
In this context, undergraduate and applied undergraduate students were mandated to undertake thesis projects, while master’s and doctoral candidates were obliged to publish papers in accredited scientific or international journals, respectively.
Makarim argued that the contemporary landscape offers an array of avenues to demonstrate graduates’ capabilities and proficiencies.
He cited diverse study programs as examples, suggesting that alternative methods could more aptly gauge competencies for certain fields.
This strategic reform aligns with the Ministry’s objective to foster a framework for higher education standards that provides institutions greater latitude in defining competency requirements for graduates.
The minister highlighted that the dynamics of various fields, such as environmental conservation, warrant flexible approaches to evaluating competence beyond rigid thesis standards.
Netizens expressed widespread support for the updated regulations.
Netizens’ responses, sourced from the social media account “sosmedkeras,” overwhelmingly endorse the new regulations.
A prevailing sentiment among them is that the thesis imposition is unduly taxing, exacerbated by the challenges posed by supervisors.
“The most difficult part of the thesis was the supervisor. Luckily (I) had a supervisor who wasn’t complicated.”
Many lauded the move, highlighting that the thesis’s impact on employability is often marginal compared to experience and certifications.
“Besides, the thesis has no effect when (you’re) looking for work or when you’re already working, it only adds to the burden on students, after all, what you see is experience or certificates when applying for work.”
The decision was commended as progressive, enabling students to cultivate skills vital for professional success.
“You could say this is a progressive step, providing opportunities for students to develop the skills and competencies needed to be successful in the world of work.”
However, the implementation of the new regulations is contingent on individual campus policies.
This has prompted discussions regarding whether institutions will opt to streamline the process for students.
“But again it depends on campus policy, now the problem is whether the campus wants to make it easier for students or not. I’m not sure about mine.”
In a global context, the alteration resonates with practices abroad, where some international universities exempt undergraduates from thesis requirements and offer thesis-free pathways for postgraduate studies.
This aligns with the Ministry’s endeavour to promote modern and effective evaluation methods while, according to institutions, the prerogative to chart their distinctive paths.