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Indonesian lecturers spark “#JanganJadiDosen” movement, demand academic welfare reform

Amid financial woes, Indonesian lecturers spark a nationwide movement, #JanganJadiDosen, highlighting the dire state of academic welfare and calling for systemic reform.



INDONESIA: A social media movement has taken root in the landscape of Indonesian higher education, shedding light on the concerning state of academic welfare in the country.

The hashtag #JanganJadiDosen, translating to “Don’t Become a Lecturer”, trended across social media platform X on Wednesday (21 Feb), unveiling the deep-seated anxieties of netizens regarding the future and welfare of the lecturing profession in Indonesia.

This movement, primarily fueled by the academic community itself, saw numerous lecturers coming forward, showcasing their monthly salary slips as evidence of their financial struggles.

The amounts revealed were starkly below what is considered a livable wage, highlighting a systemic issue within the country’s higher education system.

Accounts like @ajiehata** disclosed personal grievances, with one lecturer narrating an eight-year tenure at a private startup university in Bandung, earning a maximum salary of merely IDR 2.2 million (approximately US$140) per month, devoid of any additional allowances.

This and similar accounts underscore the financial precarity faced by many in the profession.

The movement’s narrative was further enriched by contributions from various academics, like @elementalpa**, who underscored the profession’s perception in Indonesia as one of mere devotion and service, devoid of material ambition.

(Source: X Platform/@elementalpain)

This sentiment was echoed by @iarid**, who criticized the higher education model in Indonesia for its misplaced priorities, such as an excessive focus on rankings and administrative complexities, which contribute to the profession’s unattractiveness.

(Source: X Platform/@iaridlo)

However, not all insights were bleak.

A prominent highlight within this discourse was the contrast drawn by @ngilangdul***, who pointed out that lecturing at top-tier universities could offer a path to financial well-being.

These institutions often provide comprehensive remuneration packages, including performance bonuses, meal allowances, research funding, and more, illustrating a stark disparity within the academic sector.

(Source: X Platform/@ngilangduluah)

Survey unveils striking financial challenges for Indonesian academics

A research team comprising academics from Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM), Universitas Indonesia (UI), and Universitas Mataram (Unram) launched a national survey in April last year.

The survey, which garnered participation from nearly 1,200 active lecturers, aimed to examine the income and expenditure patterns of Indonesian academics systematically.

The findings were revealing.

A significant 42.9% of respondents reported a fixed monthly income of less than IDR 3 million (approximately SGD 257).

The majority of lecturers, as per the survey, fell into the lower income brackets, with additional variable incomes such as speaking fees and publication incentives rarely exceeding IDR 1 million per month (approximately US$191).

This data starkly highlighted the financial challenges faced by the majority of Indonesian academics, with many not receiving substantial professional allowances or certification benefits.

The landscape, however, is not without its nuances.

On 26 January, President Joko Widodo signed Government Regulation No. 5 of 2024, announcing an 8% salary increase for civil servants, including lecturers.

This adjustment, structured across four grades based on qualifications and experience, aims to improve the financial conditions of public sector educators, particularly those with postgraduate qualifications who fall into the higher III and IV categories.

With the signing of Government Regulation No. 5 of 2024, the salary for civil servant lecturers of Grade III ranks A to D ranges from IDR 4.57 million (approximately US$292) to IDR 5.18 million (approximately US$331).

Meanwhile, Grade IV ranks A to E range from IDR 5.39 million to IDR 6.37 million (approximately US$407).

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