Published on March 5th, 2015 | by Stasya Desnafira


Higher Education Stratification

I would quoted a tricky question that became a trigger for me to write topic about stratification in higher education. “It’s so challenging these days to get a job whether you have a college degree or not, so in light of this and the soaring costs of higher education, do you think going to college is relevant?”. The answer could be divide into two big categories –  either who agree that it is relevant, or those who aren’t. For those who agree that it is relevant, most likely had benefited of having education degree to backup their position in society. Reflecting on Weber and Durkheim thoughts (in Levinson et al, 2002: 330) higher education — central institution in modern societies, which therefore it’s able to affect various profession and jobs, in terms of power, prestige, privilege, or even combination of those three. On the other side, those who disagree that it is relevant, most likely didn’t see much benefit education degree would give as much as the cost getting there.

In Indonesia, there are some types about education degree: academic education such as undergraduate and postgraduate mostly four year colleges, and professional education ranging from Diploma I to Diploma IV in three to four years college. From academic excellence, social prestige, even it’s privilege, those are seen as contributors to highly stratified system. While rankings may not be the primary source of information, they do inform opinion, and are often the hidden hand shaping perceptions of quality and reputation (Hazelkorn, 2012: 13). This kind of stratification, education system therefore not only acts a means of role allocation. So, what the relationship between this education degree toward social stratification based on education aspect?

Indonesia’s social stratification based on Davis and Moore’s argument happy wheels demo (in Haralambos and Holborn, 2004: 694), is a mechanism for ensuring that the most talented and able members of society are allocated to those position that are functionally most important for society. Rewards will be given to the most talented and high qualified, which then provide input to those occupations that are functionally important is society (Haralambos and Holborn, 2004: 694). According to Benny (2003: 9) higher education is defined as the continuation of middle category education, where it’s mission is to carry out the next stage of education, research, and devoted to the society.

From what I see this is a phenomenon that until now became one of Indonesia’s education problem, other than the widening access issue. To some extent, higher education rankings could drive behavior and reinforce social selectivity from society or the institutional itself. The degree of increasing stratification within the education system in Indonesia; in other words, could be seen in “access to what” and “who gets what”. They’re not only weak on material resource, but also given limited access to what we call upward mobility. In the long term, inequality gap between ‘the have’ and ‘the have not’ will keep the education hierarchy exist.

Through those policy, it could be seen that education is placed as private goods. In order to have access to it, you have to compete for it. And to compete itself, not everyone can take part because it’s exclusive to those who have adequate resources. Above all else, it would be better if government don’t just let everything as decided by the institution itself.

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About the Author

Stasya Desnafira

Mahasiswi Sosiologi UI 2012, memiliki hobi menonton History Channel yang berhubungan dengan acara lelang dan toko barang antik.

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