University of Groningen inspired by visit to Indonesia, Prof. De Vries was very enthusiastic about the KKN programme




President of the University of Groningen, Prof. Jouke de Vries
President of the University of Groningen, Prof. Jouke de Vries (KalderaNews/Fajar H)

JAKARTA, KalderaNews.com – This week the University of Groningen is visiting Indonesia to discuss further education and research collaboration with its Indonesian partners. A delegation, led by President Prof. Jouke de Vries, are inspired by the ambitions of the Indonesian government and universities.

During a meeting with the media, Prof. De Vries stated: “the developments in higher education in Indonesia have impressed me. I think we can learn a lot from it at the University of Groningen and it makes me realise we have homework to do. Most importantly is, that our visit has given us inspiration to intensify collaboration with our partners in Indonesia”.

For the University of Groningen, Indonesia has been a strong partner for decades. Prof. Ronald Holzhacker remembers: ”During her time as ambassador to the Netherlands, Minister Retno Marsudi said that Groningen is the largest Indonesian university in Europe, referring to the large number of Indonesian students and researchers active in Groningen”.

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With the world opening up after the global pandemic, the time has come for the global top 100 university to reconnect face-to-face with its international partners. Prof. De Vries: “for us the choice to come to Indonesia first was an easy one, due to our longstanding successful partnership with Indonesian partners. Our goal is to take the next step in the collaboration with Indonesia. We want to create opportunities for our own students and researchers to work with the students and researchers of our partners either here in Indonesia or in the Netherlands”.

The Groningen delegation indicated they have been impressed by the ambitions of the government after meetings with Chairman of the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN), Dr. Laksana Tri Handoko and Director General of Higher Education, Research and Technology (DIKTI), Prof. Nizam

“The flexibility the ministry would like to create for students in their curriculum for example through Kampus Merdeka is also something we want to achieve in Groningen. I admire the government for developing this vision and the different elements in it like microcredits and international exchange (IISMA),” Prof. De Vries said in an interview with KalderaNews on Thursday in Jakarta .

“Furthermore, it offers several opportunities for partner universities from abroad for further interaction with Indonesian counterparts through for example joint research centres, degree collaboration. We are very keen to get involved both through DIKTI and BRIN and especially in our priority themes that link with the societal challenges we face both in Indonesia and the Netherlands: energy & climate, public health, digitalization & AI, and sustainability & circular economy”.

One of the challenges for research intensive universities like Groningen is always how theory can be linked to practice. During their visit to Yogyakarta, the UG delegation also spent a morning in Kampung Code, a district located on the banks of the river in Yogyakarta.

Here, students of the university put into practice their academic research to help local communities through community teaching/services (KKN), for example by using simple micro-bubble technology to clean greywater from local laundries before it enters the river system, or using digester units to turn kitchen waste into liquid fertiliser that is used to grow fruit and vegetables.

Breakfast Meeting with President of the University of Groningen, Prof. Jouke de Vries, Director International Strategy & Relations, Mervin Bakker, Director Groningen Research Center for SEA ASEAN, Prof. Ronald Holzhacker, Mechanics and Control of Nonlinear Systems Engineering and Technology Institute Groningen, Prof B Jayawardhana, and Education Promotion Coordinator of Nuffic Neso Indonesia, Inty Dienasari
Breakfast Meeting with President of the University of Groningen, Prof. Jouke de Vries, Director International Strategy & Relations, Mervin Bakker, Director Groningen Research Center for SEA ASEAN, Prof. Ronald Holzhacker, Mechanics and Control of Nonlinear Systems Engineering and Technology Institute Groningen, Prof B Jayawardhana, and Education Promotion Coordinator of Nuffic Neso Indonesia, Inty Dienasari (KalderaNews/Fajar H)

Prof. De Vries was very enthusiastic about the KKN programme at UGM: “This is a fantastic way to connect the academic and the local community. Not only do the students learn how to put theory into practice, they also help the local community in creating solutions for everyday challenges. We discussed with UGM how we can also involve our students from Groningen in these type of projects”.

Members of the community, from local primary school pupils right through to the older generation are able to see first hand how academic research can improve their daily lives. All UGM students spend two months living in a local community somewhere in Indonesia, and produce a written report for academic credit on their work.

The programme mirrors the UG’s commitment to societal impact of academic research, and President Jouke de Vries was inspired by the potential for the UG to learn from UGM’s work. He hopes that there is potential for UG students to join UGM KKN projects themselves so that their studies can be enriched by this practical learning experience.

During their stay in Jakarta, the Groningen delegation also met its alumni community during an event called the Aletta Dialogue. A series of worldwide events in which experts from Groningen and the hosting country or region discuss subjects on the crossroads of science and societal challenges with each other and the audience.

This inaugural edition was the kick-off of a series of worldwide events organised in honour of Aletta Jacobs (1854-1929), a contemporary of Raden Adjeng Kartini. She was the first woman in the Netherlands to register at a university as a regular student and the first female doctor.

Furthermore, she was a champion for women’s rights like birth control and voting rights. Finally, she also travelled the world (Europe, South Africa, Egypt, Middle East, India, Japan, China and Indonesia) to fight for the rights of women (esp. voting rights).

The topic of the Aletta dialogue was “development of democracy” and speakers were Prof. De Vries and Dr. Deasy Sim Deasy Simandjuntak (Researcher of Politics and International Relations at ISEAS). There was a lively discussion on developments in the Netherlands, Indonesia, Europe and Southeast Asia.

During the evening, the alumni launched a plan to set up a Indonesian chapter of the University of Groningen community. The name of the chapter will be PAGI (Perkumpulan Alumni Groningen Indonesia).

Prof. De Vries was very pleased with the initiative: “Staying connected with our alumni is crucial for the further success of our activities in Indonesia. Our alumni are very well placed in Indonesian society and act as our ambassadors. This helps us tremendously in realizing our ambitions in the collaboration with Indonesian partners. After our trip we are more convinced than ever that Indonesia plays a crucial role in realizing our international ambitions”.

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