SWA.co.id - Since 1984, UT has been providing open and distance higher education for Indonesian citizens and foreigners. Everyone has the same opportunity to continue their education, regardless of the profession, age, and place of living.
“To provide access to a world quality higher education for all through open and distance higher education”, is one of the missions promoted by Universitas Terbuka (UT) as the 45th state university in Indonesia. Through open and distance learning system, UT optimizes the use of a variety of learning media both printed media (modules) and non-printed media (audio, video, radio, television, and internet). The term ‘open’ means the absence of restrictions on age, duration of study, year of high school diploma, registration period, and frequency of taking exams.
"UT really implements the philosophy of open education in its system. Students who had once applied to UT, and have not been active for years but wanted to return, they could just continue where they had left. Currently, we have over 450,000 active students. From the operational perspective, it is indeed extremely complex, but this is the risk we take in order to actualize life-long education," said Rector of UT, Prof. Ir. Tian Belawati, M.Ed., Ph.D. at her office, on Friday (15/4).
In addition to the open education, Tian expressed the magnitude of the challenge of the distance learning system itself. UT has service units called Regional Offices (UPBJJ) at the provincial level. Local state universities in the area of these regional offices have advisory roles and assist in the writing of learning materials, implementation of tutorials, practical work, and examinations. "With the opening of our newest Regional Office in Tarakan, UT now has 40 service units spread across all provinces in Indonesia," she said.
If given a choice, she will choose to increase the utilization of information technology (IT) in the learning process at UT. Unfortunately, the lack of infrastructure in Indonesia has become a constraint. "More than 70 percent of UT students do not have access to adequate internet connection, so the learning tools that we use need to vary. If we stop offering learning through the conventional means, most likely we will be closing the access of a group of people in Indonesia to obtain education in UT,” Tian said while mentioning a new system for the Master of Management program which is offered fully online.
The majority of UT students, more than 90 percent, have jobs or own businesses. UT always involve its stakeholders, including employers, in the curriculum designing process, so that the various programs held at UT are relevant to the current needs of the industries. The programs offered at UT range from One to Four Years Diploma Program, Undergraduate and Graduate (Master Degree) Programs, to Open Online Certificate Program referred to as MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) that anyone can join freely without any requirements.
"Since it does not interfere with work, studying at UT is ideal for corporate leaders who want to enhance their own skills or the skills of their employees. Many people are still motivated in getting a diploma and improve their living standards, but for many others, they simply want to broaden their horizons", said Tian. "Many alumni feel that UT could actually be the bridge that leads them to achieve their goals. Perhaps, they once did not have the opportunity to go to college, or already have a degree but work in a different field, and want to increase their capacity."
Tian’s relentless effort to establish UT as a reference for other open education institutions was acknowledged by the global community through her appointment as the President of the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) for the 2012-2015 office terms. In addition to becoming the first Asian woman in this position, Tian was also the first female Rector of UT who had successfully led the Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU). "I was lucky to start and grow into my career in a workplace with no discrimination between men and women," said Tian. "It is obvious, amongst the open and distance education community, UT has already established its name and is active in international collaboration," she concluded.