Posted by Vicky Sonya | 11:26 AM

State universities fill places

The 10,672 seats offered at five state universities, including the University of Indonesia, have now been filled.

Last weekend nearly 100,000 interested students across the country competed in a two-day Joint Admission Test (UMB) for the seats, and are now waiting for results to be announced on June 21.

The students will still have another chance if they fail. Coordinated by the National Education Ministry's Directorate General for Higher Education, the country's 57 state universities, including the five that held the test over the weekend, will offer seats through the National Selection to Enter State Universities (SNMPTN).

Students can apply for the selection test between June 16 and 28, sit the test on July 2 and 3 and see the results on Aug. 2.

Jakarta State University (UNJ) rector Bedjo Sujanto told The Jakarta Post on Monday there would be no difference in the difficulty of the two entrance tests.

"In fact, test materials of the SNMPTN are prepared by the SPMB Association (organizer of the UMB). SNMPTN has just been launched, while the SPMB Association has a test materials bank that is developed from year to year," Bedjo said.

Before it was split into UMB and SNMPTN, the national admission test to enter state universities for students across the country was administered under SPMB.

Bedjo said there would be no difference in tuition fees between students selected from the UMB and the SNMPTN, and that the UMB's application fee was only slightly more expensive than that of SNMPTN.

A UMB application form costs between Rp 150,000 (US$16) and Rp 175,000, while an SNMPTN form costs between Rp 175,000 and Rp 200,000.

The number of seats available from the two selection tests, however, is not quite comparable. The University of Indonesia, for example, offers 3,600 seats or nearly 80 percent of its over 5,000 available seats through UMB, but only offers 900 seats through SNMPTN.

UNJ, meanwhile, offers 1,800 seats or some 38 percent of 4,800 available seats through UMB and 1,000 seats through SNMPTN.

Both Bedjo and UI rector Gumilar Rusliwa Somantri said they preferred allocating more seats through UMB to SNMPTN because while the former used the already "proven and reliable" system of SPMB, the newly launched SNMPTN had yet to show reliable results.

In total, of the 180,000 seats that should be available at the 57 state universities, only 60,000 are offered through the two national selection tests, a decline from over 99,000 seats last year.

The reduction is the direct result of universities increasing allocations for seats through their own admission tests, which also typically require students to pay high tuition fees if they are accepted.

Gadjah Mada University (UGM) in Yogyakarta offers most of its seats through its own admission test, while the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) offers around a half of its seats through its own test and the other half through SNMPTN.

Many state universities also offer seats through direct recruitment of the best high school graduates in regions and through partnerships with local administrations.