The corruption case in which the Chancellor of the State University of Lampung (UNILA) is an alleged suspect demonstrates that a sheer lack of integrity can be present anywhere, even in universities—the developmental hub of ethical and critical thinking. The Chancellor is suspected of receiving bribes to pass students who apply through the independent entrance exam. By establishing a price of IDR 100-350 million, he was able to pocket up to IDR 5 billion.
This is hardly the first case of academic corruption. The practice of purchasing and selling seats for high school admission was especially prevalent in the years 2014, 2017, and 2019.
Some of the instances above are only a handful of the cases of educational institution fraud that have come to light. Akin to the tip of an iceberg, there are many other fraud cases that are highly likely to go undetected.
According to the media, the Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW) stated that the education sector is one of the top ten most corrupt sectors in Indonesia. The state has lost up to Rp41.09 billion as a result of corruption in this sector. Fraud, in addition to financial losses, results in moral costs and harms the institution’s reputation.
The majority of fraud cases were discovered after the authorities received reports from the public. In the UNILA case, for example, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) received reports from members of the public who felt wronged since participants with low marks passed the test while others with higher scores did not.
Fostering whistleblowing culture
The whistleblowing system that relies on public reporting as an instrument for early detection of violations can be applied to various organizations, including in the educational sector. In Indonesia, state universities in particular have begun to implement a whistleblowing system. Some of these universities are University of Indonesia, Gadjah Mada University, and UNNES.
However, implementing this system is not as easy as turning the palm of your hand. In order for the system to run effectively, the organization must simultaneously form a comprehensive supporting ecosystem so that whistleblowing runs optimally, which includes:
- Providing a wide selection of reporting channels, such as telephone, email, traditional mail, and text messaging, for a user-friendly experience.
- Anonymity. The option of anonymous reporting increases the effectiveness of the whistleblowing system because it gives the whistleblower a sense of security.
- Quick responses. In order for stakeholders to be encouraged to report, organizations must ensure that they will follow up on reports fairly and provide an updated report immediately to the whistleblowers.
- Promoting the whistleblowing system policy. Promotions can be carried out by providing written policies, as well as conducting training and education sessions for employees through internal bulletins.
- Leader support. It is imperative that leaders demonstrate concrete transparency and exhibit their support for the disclosure of abuse and misappropriation.
An effective whistleblowing system can help educational institutions detect fraud as early as possible. The earlier fraud is detected, the smaller the potential loss that will be suffered.