Thursday, 02 April 2020 | 09:27 WIB

The Importance of Culture in Universities

Professor Asep Saefuddin (ist)

JAKARTA, NETRALNEWS.COM - In essence the university is a place to improve one's competence in the form of soft competence or hard competence. So, not just a place of course or training. It is natural that many people believe that the university can provide the necessary supplies for one's future. This trust should be held by lecturers, educational staff, and leaders of university units. That is, they should not waste the students who are undergoing education at the university. This is a great mandate that must be sincerely undertaken for a better future of Indonesia.

As a logical consequence of the desire to give the best to the students, need total handling in running the university wheels. A mixture of professionalism, humanity, kinship, education, training and cadre. All this should be understood and run by lecturers, employees, and holders of university-level structural units to the smallest unit in the study program. All of that can be a component of the university ecosystem that directly and indirectly influence the students.

To fill the university's educational ecosystem, at least it must be approached through culture, structures, procedures, and tools. These four elements must complement and complement each other like integrated and holistic system components. Culture is more soft, as for structures, procedures, and tools harder (hard).

Because of its nature, a relatively soft culture, quite difficult to run and measured its success through quantitative measures. However, culture is very important and can inspire and embody hard components. In addition, if a cultural approach has succeeded in penetrating into the individual soul, it will be a long-lasting behavior. It could even be forever. Therefore, introduction through culture is very important in university education. This can not be taken lightly, and should not be taken lightly.

Usually the lecturers and employees are less aware of the components of this culture. So often overlooked. So the lecturer-student relationship tends to be professional, or even transactional. The process is too shaped reward and punishment, whips and gifts. This approach does not benefit the students in the process of character building. In fact, for a tough soul, has a purpose, and love for activities or work (passion) must be approached culturally. As for derivatives there is a reward that is part of the logical impact alone. So that is not the main purpose.

A transactional approach is difficult to ensure that a person can survive long and focus on running his idea into reality. In fact, this behavior is very necessary in entrepreneurship (entrepreneurship). If the university intends to build an entrepreneur candidate, then the cultural approach becomes the key to success. Because the properties of this entrepreneur are more soft-competence than hard-competence. Soft-competence is what will encourage someone to master the science, technology, and skills to live his life. In other words, soft-competence is what stimulates students to master hard-competence. In addition, soft-competence can beautify hard-competence. That's the difference between a course and a university. Where the courses are more weighted on hard-competence.

It is this cultural approach that can motivate students to work hard, be creative, imagine, think far ahead, and innovate. For that, universities should put forward growing research culture and student entrepreneurship. Lecturers and unit leaders work in such a way that the research habits and student entrepreneur can grow and develop. For example, by inviting them to discuss research ideas and not easily blame any ideas that come from students. Then, this idea does not stop in the aspect of research, but how the continuation of efforts so that it can be applied into a solution. Many of the issues today require creative solutions that need to be discussed. For example in energy, food, animal feed, transportation, traffic, resource optimization, and more. All that requires a soft approach (culture), in addition to curriculum in higher education. Discussing these issues is hardly left entirely to the curriculum, especially when the lecturer-student relationship is based on transactional, contractual, or professional patterns.

Actually, aspects of structure, procedures, and tools are relatively easier. However, universities often only have documents of these three components, especially in the aspect of the procedure. If the procedure is merely a formality, then the organization process runs business as usual, not systematic, and not measurable. If it is just a way, this can be, but it will happen inefficiency, not fast, not right, or even harmful.

Universities whose culture is weak, but want to stay good and professional, will generally beautify the structure, procedures, and tools. So, usually the structure is good. Documented procedures are available, as well as equipment facilities are pretty decent. So often the university wants to get the ISO certificate. This is important, but not enough. It is Necessary but not sufficient. In addition, without understanding the essence of the university culture, management certification is often just a tassel.

If the regular culture is not there, then the ISO certificate is just a display to raise the class only. As a smart citizen, it is not difficult for college to obtain ISO certificate. They can be prepared in various ways, such as training, workshops, comparative studies, and the preparation of procedural documents. However, without awareness of the importance of the culture described in the form of everyday activities, the ISO certainly only runs for a while. Then lecturers and employees return to business as usual, the origin of the road.

Indeed there are some tools and procedures that must exist to run the culture. For example, for energy-saving cultures, in addition to the call to not often use the elevator, need procedures, technology, and tools (tool) operations. For example, the procedure, the civitas must use the ladder when it rises only one floor. As for his tool, the elevator will not stop when someone goes up just for one floor. This technology is not something that is difficult for an expert. Live effort implementation. Many other cases are united between culture, structure, procedures, and tools.

In the education process, students as an element of the academic community can be involved in the effort to integrate the four components of the university organization. So the spirit of cooperation, the efficient, effective, clean, organized, thrifty, and disciplined habits are awakened as long as they are on campus. In terms of learning structures, procedures, and tools, they can learn to apply them in student organizations. Of course in the early stages they must realize and master the philosophy (essence, meaning) of the organization. Questions arise on the why, what, and how the organization should be commonly discussed. Without mastery of the essence, they will be trapped technical procedures that are mechanistic, technical, and dry. Less meaningful, has no fundamental values. For this they too must learn. Here also there is the role of lecturers, so that the students do not study too long.

These soft-competence behaviors can certainly be applied while strengthening hard-competence. That is the university, not just a place of science transfer without the power of character. That is, without the power of culture, then the university will only be a place of courses and training. This is not good for student characters. In this case the campuses in Indonesia are often left behind compared to the campus in developed countries. We must be aware of it, in order to fix it. God willing we can.


The author is the Rector of Al-Azhar University of Indonesia/Professor of Statistics at Institut Pertanian Bogor.