Universitas Terbuka (UT) is the only state-run university dedicated to distance learning in Indonesia. Generally, UT offers two types of courses, i.e., those designed for prospective participants with high-school level qualifications, and those specifically intended for in-service teachers. Since 2003, UT has also offered graduate study programs designed for urban students who have easy access to the Internet.
The number of students per semester is about 250,000 on average. They include not only those who live in various parts of Indonesia but also Indonesian nationals who reside outside the country. The majority of students, 95%, are working adults and teachers, and 48% represent women. More than 50% of the in-service teachers are sponsored by their employers, such as district and provincial governments, government departments and educational foundations, for their studies.
UT uses mainly printed material for the distance learning courses. The university also uses recorded material, such as on audiocassettes and video cassettes, radio and television programs, and computer- and Internet-based material. Traditionally, students have been provided with face-to-face tutorials. Recently, however, the university has begun providing them via the Internet. There are some problems involving tutorials through the Internet, such as high cost and low computer diffusion rate in the nation. However, the students who use the online tutorials say they are highly satisfied because the tutorials allow students to communicate directly with the university officials.
Nevertheless, even if a group of students share the cost for using online tutorials, it is still a heavy burden for them. In many cases, students take the online tutorials by using Internet kiosks and computers in post offices that can connect to the Internet. As of 2002, UT offered tutorials via the Internet for 191 courses. Under UT’s online tutorial system, students post their questions on a web site and tutors and other students respond to them at their convenience.
In addition, it is becoming necessary for UT to make better use of the Internet for its management work, such as providing information on how to complete formalities, as well as for online tutorials, online counseling and online courses. However, there are only a limited number of students who have their own computers. The number of students who have access to the Internet is much less than the number of students who own their computer. For this reason, UT is considering a plan to form an alliance with Internet service providers, the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology and the Indonesian Postal Corporation that run the Internet kiosks.