3: Underdeveloped, Frontier and Outermost: Small Island Universities in Indonesia

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This chapter examines challenges faced by universities in Indonesia’s small islands. Unlike small island states, Indonesia, as the largest archipelagic state, has five large islands (more than 100,000 square kilometres) alongside thousands of small islands. Despite Indonesia’s good economic growth, this is not distributed equitably. The smaller eastern islands have much lower human development index scores compared to the main islands in the western part of the country. The government has designated the less developed small islands as underdeveloped, frontier and outermost regions. This chapter analyses higher education in the smaller islands. If Indonesia is to fulfil its aspiration of improving inclusive development and its human capital quality, the small island universities’ role needs to be strategically positioned within the national higher education architecture. Notwithstanding the need for favourable policies, the future of small island universities also depends on their ability to navigate through limited resources to address pertinent local issues.

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