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Front. Educ., 20 March 2023
Sec. Higher Education
Volume 8 - 2023 |

Survival and human resource strategies of private higher education in facing an era of change: Insight from Indonesia

Muhammad Ramaditya* Syahrul Effendi Agustian Burda
  • Department of Management, Sekolah Tinggi Ilmu Ekonomi Indonesia Jakarta, Jakarta, Indonesia

Purpose Survival in private higher education is possible if universities have the superior talent to withstand the shocks of change. Hence, the human resource strategy is an essential part of surviving. Thus, this study aims to identify and determine the implementation of survival and human resource strategies in Indonesia’s private higher education is facing an era of change. The research method used is a descriptive qualitative approach. In collecting data, researchers used the archival method. The data is sourced from news, a total of 602 data sources, and obtained from online publications through trusted news and media. This study found six strategies of survival and human resource by private higher education in Indonesia to encounter an era of change: Efficiency; Quality Assurance; Customer Retention Program; Intensive Marketing Program; Opening of New Programs; Mergers, and Acquisitions. This research is expected to provide an extension of the survival and human resource strategies implemented by private universities in Indonesia in facing an era of change.


The era of change has become a reality that all individuals in the world must face. Changes occur quickly and pose various challenges, so individuals or organizations must be able to face changes for the better. This change in the economic and business fields is known as VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous). The VUCA era describes business conditions that lead to uncertainty, causing anxiety (Aribowo and Wirapraja, 2018). In Indonesia, technological developments in the world of education are proliferating, such as the presence of google classroom and e-learning (Aribowo and Wirapraja, 2018). The world of education must get used to new activities not usually done before, such as maximizing the learning process by preparing digital technology to the maximum so that the learning process can be carried out correctly (Hendrarso, 2020). With these changes, higher education is considered vital today to adapt to the era’s demands. We can take higher education through universities, one of which is a private university. With the existence of private universities, we can carry out higher education under the demands of the current era of change (Ainayyah, 2019). The education sector must be able to present itself as part of the challenges in this era of change. The challenge of this era of change has had a tremendous impact, especially on private higher education (PHEIs), because the funding for its activities comes from self-financing (Ramaditya et al., 2022c).

One of the main requirements for increasing the accreditation of private universities is to increase the human resources of universities, especially lecturers, to be productive in carrying out the tri dharma of higher education and increasing their career and education levels (Bona, 2019). The quality of lecturers is the central point that ensures the level of graduates in a university (Kemal and Rosyidi, 2019). Although private universities are the dominant universities in Indonesia, there is a downward graph from 2018 to 2020. The decline in the number of universities owned is due to the number of campuses needing closure (PDDikti, 2020; Larasati, 2022). Many factors could cause the closure: an insufficient number of lecturers; lack of facilities and infrastructure on campus; a foundation legal entity that is not ready to maintain its educational institution; colleges that have combined and moved locations. In addition to closing, it can be caused by private universities that cannot operate, so operational permits are revoked (Wahyuni, 2020).

Private universities need to understand the conditions and make the right strategy. Higher education leaders must define how to implement the strategy in an ever-changing internal and external context (Poernomo, 2020). The main barriers to the sustainability of higher education are the lack of planning and attention and the lack of implementation of sustainable strategic measures and continuity. In general, a survival strategy is a person’s ability to develop various ways or strategies to overcome the threats or problems faced (Masruroh and Ramli, 2020). According to Manguma (2021), the strategies used to survive can be divided into three: (1) Active strategies by utilizing and developing their potential, such as utilizing their own resources; (2) Passive strategy by making savings, namely reducing operational costs; (3) Network strategy by establishing and utilizing relationships, such as entering into cooperation agreements. There are many problems related to higher education development sustainability. They generally refer to a lack of strategy and require urgent change and finding solutions for stability and sustainability (Ramaditya et al., 2022c). If universities want to survive, they need to prepare themselves by making rapid and planned changes in order to be able to support their education business. During the increasingly fierce competition, Private university management needs to develop strategies to remain relevant to the changes in the current digital era.

Implications of the strategies generated and implemented by universities against depopulation in order for universities to survive. Through previous study analysis of documents and secondary data, five main strategies identified by Japanese universities for survival are (1) faculty diversification, (2) merger (vertical and horizontal integration), (3) campus relocation, (4) takeover by local authorities, and (5) closure. The research conducted has similarities with the author discussing survival strategies carried out by universities so that it can be used as a reference for the author (Inaba, 2020).

The selection and resilience of innovative practices in the post-pandemic future will depend on feedback loops in highly complex network interactions that can enable or constrain evolutionary change (Bento et al., 2021). This research provides advice to tertiary institutions and their human resources so that they can adapt and be able to transform to change by establishing strategies that can maintain tertiary institutions so that they can remain competitive (Bento et al., 2021). Another previous study’s results stated that during the post Covid-19 period, universities must respond to the resistance created by individuals with a resilience model.

The robustness model can be applied to quantitative analysis through a scoring mechanism. Adopting a resilience model will enable universities to address socio-psychological issues and thereby reduce those inequalities and help graduates transition smoothly to the job market. This research is in line with the authors that the resilience model can help policymakers in tertiary institutions to understand that when institutions develop their strengths through a resilience-based model, universities can survive more easily and find ways to thrive in unexpected crises (Nandy et al., 2021). Survival in private higher education can be done if universities have the superior talent to withstand the shocks of change. Hence, the human resource strategy is an essential part of surviving. Thus, this study aims to identify and determine the implementation of survival and human resource strategies in Indonesia’s private higher education is facing an era of change.


A qualitative approach is research with exploratory characteristics and uses more in-depth analysis to fulfill the full explanation by concluding from several phenomena that occur (Aspers and Corte, 2019; Kaharuddin, 2021). A wide range of activities are used to make it easier to investigate documents and textual materials created by and about organizations while using archival research methodologies. This study uses exploratory data analysis to detect patterns, and we use them to evaluate classification strategies to predict how private universities can survive in the future. The secondary research includes gathering data through existing literature, and online sources. Archival methods are used in this study from the archived past. In the archival method approach, there are five stages (Golder and Ford, 2000) such as choosing a topic and collecting the evidence obtained, conducting an assessment of the sources obtained, evaluating the evidence that has been sorted, performing analysis, and describing evidence and, presenting evidence and concluding it. The data collection technique is the archival method by collecting data from various online publications related to the human resources strategy used by private universities in Indonesia. An archival method is an approach by looking at past records in articles or newspapers, which are interpreted in a form that is easier to understand. Furthermore, each piece of data is analyzed, and conclusions are drawn from what has been written in the news regarding the topics discussed. As a result, the archival approach is used in this study to gather the data and display it understandably.

The first stage starts with identifying the main topic of this research, namely the strategy carried out by private universities in Indonesia in dealing with existing changes and making search keywords. The topic was chosen based on real events that have occurred recently and experienced by all universities in Indonesia by implementing various strategies to survive and human resources in an era of change. The second stage is to determine the attributes of each strategy step by collecting relevant data. This research focuses on all private universities in Indonesia that are implementing their development strategy during the period from February 2021 to June 2022. Data collection was carried out using Microsoft Excel with an explanation column to make the next process easier. Data is obtained by downloading the online version of the document and reading news available in online media.

The third stage is the process of screening the data obtained so that it fits the predetermined criteria, namely the implementation of development strategies carried out by private universities. The data obtained were from 602 news data sources. The fourth stage is the stage of evaluating the feasibility of news sources and journals that have been screened. This stage is the stage of verifying the originality and correctness of each source obtained. The things that are listed are the author, publication date, publication, and publisher.

The fifth stage is the stage of improving what strategies are used by private universities from the available data. Strategy lessons based on discussion topics discussed in existing news and journals. This stage starts from identifying the content contained in news and journals, then analyzing in depth the topics discussed and concluding what development strategies are in the content. The sixth stage is a typology of strategy development by analyzing and interpreting the data that has been obtained based on reliable sources. At this stage, the authors analyze and interpret the results of implementing the data development strategy carried out by private universities with interrelationships with each other, namely the availability of resources. Solve the problem in this study based on the framework popularized by Golder (2000).

Data is taken by reading the data electronically because it is easy to get access and can be accessed by anyone at any anytime. News that has been found will be collected in one excel for data processing. From the news taken, most of them have been incorporated and verified into the press association board. Then the data analysis technique used is the content analysis technique to describe the meaning of a message and the method used to reveal the content of the message to be conveyed by studying literature as a reference in collecting data or determining sources based on the topics discussed. The data collected are in the form of news, articles from online media, and the official websites of private universities that all people can access in general, as shown in Table 1.


Table 1. Data sources.

A debate of the topics mentioned in the news and current topics are used to choose the method. This process starts with identifying the data presented in the news and media, carefully analyzing the topics discussed, and coming to a conclusion regarding the growth strategies presented. The last step involves developing a strategy typology by analyzing and interpreting information received from reliable sources. Here, the author analyzes and explains the data on the usage of development strategies by private organizations in contrast to one another, focusing on the availability of resources.

A pattern of company response methods has been found based on a comprehensive content analysis of 602 pertinent informational items drawn from the sources (see Table 2). According to published sources, private higher education in Indonesia has adopted one or more strategies to deal with the shifting business landscapes. The four strategies are closely related to the idea of strategic flexibility, which refers to proactive and reactive strategic actions to adapt to change both internally and externally by utilizing an organization’s fundamental values, culture, core competencies, strategic assets, and strategic positions (Sushil, 2015). The four techniques are directly linked to the 10 meanings of flexibility (Sushil, 1997), including agility, customization, adaptiveness, compromise, responsiveness, contingency, adjustment, resilience, variability, and localness. Private universities must be able to fund necessary operations.


Table 2. Private higher education survival and human resource strategy.

Findings and discussion

This study provides insight into how private universities in Indonesia are responding to an era of change. Changes that have occurred have caused intense competition in the medium and long term to become a serious problem. Facing these conditions, managers of private universities cannot remain silent and must survive. The turmoil and changes that occur in the external and internal environment require universities to update their approaches to effective development and implementation strategies (Ramaditya et al., 2022b). The current and future phenomenon of the university requires institutions to carefully develop strategies based on an analysis of the external and internal environment (Shah and Nair, 2014).

To carry out survival and improve human resources, private universities must-have resources that can support it. According to Bhasin (2019), the resources of an organization consist of physical resources, human resources, intellectual resources, and financial resources. This is a determinant of the success of private universities in carrying out strategies. Private universities in Indonesia need to increase competitiveness against competitors and attract prospective students (Totoh, 2020). To ensure operational sustainability, most of the private universities in Indonesia rely primarily on tuition fees paid by students. If the number of students is decreased, it will impact the ability of private higher education institutions to survive. Private university survival is an issue that both academics and practitioners are interested in. It has been investigated using a variety of constructs (such as bankruptcy, mortality, longevity, business failure, and survival) from various academic fields (Ramaditya et al., 2022c). The total and source of the publications used in this study are shown in Table 3; Figure 1.


Table 3. Number and source of news publications.


Figure 1. Private higher education survival perspective.

The pattern is based on the correlation between the flexibility strategy used, and the empirical evidence researchers have found. There are six strategic perspectives on the survival of private universities, including efficiency strategy in the world of education is the management of an education system more economically by using minimal costs but getting maximum results. An educational institution is said to be efficient if it can produce high-quality output or graduates in large numbers only by utilizing the energy and funds possible during the lecture process (Mahmud, 2018), as has been done by the Widya Mataram University by delaying construction and non-urgent purchasing facilities due to the deterioration of the financial campus (Universitas Widya Mataram, 2020). Mulia University also implements efficiency by encouraging the entire academic community to implement Reduce Reuse and Recycle on every product used on campus; besides that, Mulia University also implements energy savings such as the use of lights, computers, and room temperature regulation, as well as utilizing environmentally friendly materials (Universitas Mulia, 2021). As for the efforts made by the University of Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta during the COVID-19 pandemic, namely by switching to bold activities so that activities in the building are reduced. This makes UMY make energy-saving efforts (Suryana, 2020).

According to (Syafaruddin and Nasution, 2021) Quality assurance strategy is determining and fulfilling management quality standards consistently and sustainably so that stakeholders get satisfaction. The quality of an educational institution is one of the leading indicators for students who will continue their education. Telkom university to produce competent human resources; Microsoft collaborated with holding a training of trainers by participating in the Microsoft Learn for Educators program. This activity is intended for lecturers and academic teaching staff interested in becoming candidates for Microsoft-based certification instructors for students. In addition, the University of Surabaya improves its quality through a chemical engineering study program that has successfully received IABEE (Indonesian Accreditation Board For Engineering Education) Accreditation. With the accreditation received, Ubaya is the first private university in Indonesia to receive IABEE accreditation. This is done so that Ubaya Chemical Engineering graduates can compete internationally.

The customer retention program strategy in the context of education is defined as the ability of an institution to retain students from admission to graduation or level completion (Talar and Gozaly, 2020). Student retention is an essential indicator of the success of a higher education institution, and the satisfaction felt by students is an essential factor in achieving this retention. As the Medan Area University did increase student retention by collaborating with Telkomsel to provide a unique “champion package” service from Telkomsel for UMA students to support the online learning process (Sumut Pos, 2022). As for what has been done by the University of Bandar Lampung, it provides solutions to students who are economically affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The solution provided by each university is in the form of relief to students regarding the payment of tuition fees. Tuition fees can be reduced by postponing, paying in installments, or cutting costs (Universitas Bandar Lampung, 2021).

Private universities also do intensive marketing programs to survive to obtain optimal results; in this case, universities are actively introduced to the public, especially to prospective students, by inviting them to come so that they will know more about the university (Ramaditya et al., 2022a). As for what the Islamic University of Indonesia (UII) did during the COVID-19 pandemic, it formed four social media teams of 20 students. The team is grouped according to their duties: (1) Social media specialist, (2) Social media creative, (3) Social media admin, and (4) creative visual. The purpose of UII forming this team is to optimize social media by creating exciting content that can provide information and aspirations and be used as entertainment (Universitas Islam Indonesia, 2020). In addition, Gunadarma University opens registration for new student admissions online. Online registration of new students can be accessed through the college website (Wulandari, 2021).

Private universities carry out the strategy for opening new programs to answer the challenges of market needs. The program’s opening referred to here is more directed at the opening of a study program. Esa Unggul University opened a new specialization at the faculty of economics and business; a new interest was opened for the management and accounting study program. The new interests opened in the management study program are entrepreneurship, sharia, digital marketing, lean management, and general management. Meanwhile, new interests opened in the accounting study program are tax accounting, sharia accounting, and general accounting. The new interest offered by the EUU FEB is an effort to create future economist talent, which is very much needed in industry 4.0 (Prayogo, 2021). In addition, Prasetiya Mulya University also opened a new study program at the school of business and economics. The main objective of the opening of this new study program is to prepare graduates to enter the world of the startup company industry with comprehensive knowledge about the scope of finance and investment (Larasati, 2021).

The merger and acquisition strategy carried out by universities is not only to reduce the number of universities too much but the merger and acquisition of institutions are carried out to provide a framework for the development of higher education, improve competence and standards of higher education, as well as the quality of practical resources (Arafah et al., 2021). Panca Sakti University is an amalgamation of 3 institutions: the Panca Sakti School of Teacher Training and Education (STKIP), the Cikarang College of Information and Computer Management (STMIK), and the Greater Indonesia Economics College. The result of this merger consists of 3 faculties, the Faculty of Education (FIP), the faculty of economics and business (FEB), and the faculty of computers (FK). Panca Sakti University Bekasi is under the auspices of the Bekasi Panca Sakti Foundation (Suluh News, 2020). In addition, Jenderal Ahmad Yani University Yogyakarta is the result of the merger of two universities, namely: the College of Health Sciences (STIKES) and the College of Information and Computer Management (STMIK) General Achmad Yani Yogyakarta. This merger came from the same foundation, the Kartika Eka Paksi Foundation (YKEP) of the Indonesian Army (Bella, 2018).

Furthermore, the pattern of survival in human resource strategy has been found. The pattern was developed into a new figure based on the levels of human resource strategies carried out by private universities from the lowest to the highest level and formed a structure in Figure 2. The structure of human resources development for private universities explains the strategic structure several private universities in Indonesia have carried out. This private higher education human resource development structure overviews human resource strategies from the foundation level to the roof. The foundation level is the basis for building human resources for private universities, so at the foundation level, there are several strategies: career development, rewards and compensation, employee welfare, and spiritual development. The following is an explanation of the strategy at the foundation level:


Figure 2. Structure of human resources development in private university in Indonesia.

First, career development in higher education is aimed at a condition where universities must guide or develop the careers of lecturers, as has been done by the University of Darussalam in developing the ability of its lecturers. The University of Darussalam dispatched three lecturers to study for doctoral degrees abroad. The lecturers will continue their doctoral studies at Kingston University, London. This is also supported by the existence of scholarships organized by the Ministry of Religion of the Republic of Indonesia (Universitas Gontor Darussalam, 2019). BSI University provides scholarships for lecturers to continue their doctoral education. By having experienced and qualified lecturers and the ability, UBSI can produce excellent graduates and survive in this era of change (Hastuti, 2021).

Second, awards and compensation. Awards and compensation need to be considered in a college. Suppose universities must be aware of the importance of rewards and compensation. In that case, the performance of human resources in universities, especially lecturers, will decline because the compensation given significantly affects individual satisfaction and motivation. As done by Binus University, Binus considers rewards for lecturers and students by holding an “Appreciation day” event with the label “Best Teaching Award” (Binus, 2021). Moreover, the Muhammadiyah University of North Sumatra provides incentives to lecturers. The Muhammadiyah University of North Sumatra distributed incentives of Rp. 3.7 billion. The delivery of these incentives has been carried out every year starting from 2015, and the delivery of these incentives has become UMSU’s commitment to appreciating lecturers (Yulfia, 2022).

Third, employee welfare. In private universities, by implementing and prioritizing the welfare of lecturers and staff, the level of productivity will increase because lecturers felt cared for and cared about for their needs. The Sumbawa University of Technology has built housing for lecturers and staff. Housing for Lecturers and Staff of the Sumbawa University of Technology began to be built. This housing was named “Dea Mas Garden” (Universitas Teknologi Sumbawa, 2020). Moreover, the University of Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta (UMY) provides health insurance through the UMY Healthcare program. In this health insurance, there are costs for health assistance, such as inpatient/outpatient costs. This program is given to pay attention to the welfare and health of UMY lecturers (Universitas Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta, 2022).

Fourth, is spiritual development. Universities must have quality human resources. This can be achieved through spiritual development. If there is no spiritual development, the work carried out by the lecturer will feel burdensome, stressful, etc. As done by STIKes Dharma Husada in the morning, afternoon, and evening holding joint prayer activities and special studies to maximize the faith and devotion of the lecturers and staff of STIKes Dharma Husada (Syamsari et al., 2022). The same thing is done by the Sumbawa University of Technology which carries out spiritual development activities every Friday morning. These activities are routinely carried out, to increase the faith and spiritual insight of lecturers as well as be a forum for interacting with each other to achieve the vision and mission of the Sumbawa University of Technology together (Universitas Teknologi Sumbawa, 2019).

After the foundation level, there is the pole level. The purpose of this pole is as a form of defense so that private universities can stand strong with quality human resources so the strategies at this pole level must be updated regularly so they can adapt to the latest. The strategies contained in this pole level are the first, mentoring and coaching. Mentoring and coaching is a human resource management practice that plays an important role in developing the skills and performance of private university lecturers. Private universities need to implement mentoring and coaching to improve their human resources. Because mentoring and coaching will increase the ability and skills of lecturers in terms of teaching, practice, and so on. Such as the National University and the Muhammadiyah University of North Sumatra which held public lectures on career and competency development in order to improve the quality and equip lecturers in the university environment (Universitas Nasional, 2018; Kuncoro, 2021).

Second, reskilling and upskilling in improving human resources in private universities. Programs for retraining and upgrading skills are also run since colleges can recognize a lecturer’s skills. At private universities, knowing a lecturer’s talents is crucial because those talents can help those lecturers become more valuable. English language instruction is organized by schools like Pasundan University. Currently, English is considered to be the main language used in this era of change (Amaliyah, 2021). Atma Jaya University Yogyakarta (UAJY) organizes implementation training to improve creative and innovative learning. Through this training, lecturers learn digital learning and increase their practice in learning (Ari, 2018).

Third, good university governance. Private universities, especially, must develop higher education in order to survive in this era of change. Therefore, the application of GUG in private universities can provide benefits in managing university governance well. For example, when Trisakti University celebrated its 55th anniversary, they implemented a strategy to strengthen existing governance at Trisakti University through the principles of good university governance (GUG; Halima, 2020).

Fourth, knowledge transfer in higher education is always associated with knowledge, knowledge is always evolving so universities must always be updated in order to adapt to existing knowledge. Knowledge transfer in private universities is very important to achieve good quality and output, especially for lecturers. For example, the Midwifery Academy participated in knowledge transfer in Malaysia in order to improve the quality of human resources through learning outside campus (Nusa Persada, 2020).

After the pole level, the thing that is no less important is to build a roof level to be able to protect the foundation and pole levels as a complement to the strategies that have been built in order to maintain good human resources. The strategies that are in this roof level are government support, which is support carried out by the government to assist and improve the competence of private higher education human resources to produce quality graduates, as done by the Minister of Research and Technology, who provided a grant to the University of Surabaya amounting to Rp 912,500,000. This award is a government effort to improve and encourage lecturers to participate in research and others (Masduki, 2021). The Ministry of Education and Culture did the same thing, which provided independent campus competition program grant funds to PGRI Kanjuruhan Malang University in the amount of Rp. 989,038,000. The grant funds obtained will be used for three programs, one of which is to improve lecturers’ professionalism through competency development (Sudiongko, 2021).

Second, Collaboration strategy. Collaboration is a cooperation between two or more parties. The collaboration strategy with other private universities will complement and strengthen private universities and will produce innovations that can be used to survive in this era. As done by Nadhlatul Ulama University, strengthening cooperation with Dian Nuswantoro University in holding quality assurance institutions (Unugiri Bojonegoro, 2022). In addition, the University of Muhammadiyah Makassar with Hasanudin University is to establish an understanding of the Tri Dharma of Higher Education. This is written in the MoU, which will be signed by the two university rectors (Universitas Muhammadiyah Makassar, 2021).

Third, staff mobility is a strategy undertaken by private universities to improve the skills and experience of lecturers. Private universities need to implement staff mobility because they can provide opportunities for lecturers to develop their skills and competencies both inside and outside the institution. As done by Mercu Buana University, Yogyakarta, participating in several programs in human resource development, one of which is staff mobility to the University of Kuala Lumpur by sending six lecturers to join this program (Widarta, 2021). The University of Surabaya (Ubaya) did the same thing, which sent its lecturers to conduct a staff mobility program at Bina Nusantara University. Many activities are carried out during staff mobility, such as discussions, knowledge sharing, and laboratory visits (Universitas Surabaya, 2018).

Fourth, technopark comes from the word technology, while park means garden. This technopark is a kind of science or technology park where technology is very often used. Through technoparks present at private universities, they can give birth to innovations that are beneficial to the broader community through research conducted by researchers. As done by Gunadarma University as a natural form for the nation and state, namely by building a Technopark or UG-Technopark. UG-Technopark has been built since 2015 to be a facility provided for lecturers, especially in terms of education such as lecturer research and others. Inside the UG-Technopark are several facilities, such as tree houses, electric cars, solar electricity, robotics parks, and many others (Fajriah, 2020).

Managerial implication

This research explores the strategies of private universities in Indonesia, provides four typologies of strategies, and analyzes their impact and innovations to provide insights to stakeholders. In an era of change, Indonesia’s private universities must choose a specific strategy for each based on their capabilities. With certain limited support (time, cost, resources) the university should consider a strategy with a low change impact by choosing a survival strategy. The typology of the strategies undertaken can serve as strategic guidelines for the preparation of private university leaders in dealing with change. One of them is a pattern of strategy to always be adaptive and have a quick response to the turmoil of changes that occur.

Survival and human resource strategies that private universities can carry out to deal with an era of change are restructuring with mergers or acquisitions, exploring new markets by opening new branches in different areas from the main campus, and maintaining their quality assurances. Private universities need to make efforts to continuously develop their institutions in order to survive and be able to compete in this era of uncertain change. Private universities need to carry out internal and external developments such as improving governance, teaching staff, impacting themselves on society, having a broad reach by collaborating, developing new markets by opening branch campuses, and improving the quality of learning and education. Thus, these two strategies describe the stretch that occurs in private universities, which directly impacts university institutions and is supported by the availability of resources. First, we found a way to survive through mergers or acquisitions. The university changes its organization by merging with other universities or baking acquisitions. Merging is a way for two institutions to grow together. They come together to leverage each other’s strengths, expand reach, do work together, and enter new markets.

Private universities must ensure that their students can be retained through customer retention programs. The retention program indicates the university’s survival strategy, which means efforts to retain students to continue using the university’s services. University management expects that satisfied students will share positive word of mouth, as is done by satisfied customers, and help the university to attract and recruit new students, and hope to be able to retain existing students to develop their work. A consumer retention program is an example of a survival strategy, which means efforts to retain students at the university. Furthermore, intensive marketing strategies are also carried out by private universities to be able to reach students, so they have an interest in competing with private universities; an intensive marketing program is one way. In this case, marketing has a vital role in the university to play its strategy regarding the expected achievement of demand according to the targets in the community, for example by creating digital talent scholarships with an amount of up to 100 percent for students who meet the criteria, such as content creators, web bloggers, YouTubers, video animators, and influencer.

Quality is one of the determining factors in private university selection. Therefore, quality is considered necessary as an effort to improve quality continuously. In the survival strategy of private universities, quality assurance must be ensured according to what has been promised. Quality assurance, commonly known as quality assurance, is a form of supervision, inspection, and testing of services by ensuring that all the processes carried out follow the quality standards that must be met in each component. Quality is one of the determining factors in choosing a private university. Improving the quality of education will be largely determined by many aspects, such as teachers, staff, curriculum, teaching, and the learning process. Quality assurance is considered necessary as an effort to improve quality continuously. In the case of quality education will be the dominant element in customer evaluation; students assess its quality based on their perceptions of the quality of results and physical quality. This forces every private university to try to improve the guarantee of the quality of education to be able to compete.

Private universities need to make efforts to continue to develop their institutions in order to survive and be able to compete in this era of uncertain change. Private universities must carry out internal and external developments such as improving governance, teaching staff, self-impact on society, broad reach through collaboration, developing new markets by opening campus branches, and improving learning and education quality. Therefore, in human resource strategy, it is expected that private universities can carry out employee development programs to improve career development policies, maintain work balance, pay attention to working conditions, conduct training, improve the skills and competence of lecturers, and create development programs that utilize the skills of lecturers. Furthermore, an employee retention program must be developed to keep qualified lecturers from leaving the organization. Some things that need to be done by private universities are to have a competitive compensation system, try to maintain talented lecturers, and always maintain employee motivation by providing challenges to maintain the rhythm of work at the university. Besides that, the role of non-financial rewards for talents is also needed, such as flexible work time and gratitude. Private universities also need to carry out such strategies to face the changing challenges. Faculty members and lecturers can be given autonomy to achieve the targets set. Furthermore, changing the system or process by creating a transparent award system known to all academics, making democratic decisions by involving the academic senate, ensuring that leadership policies are correctly followed, and creating a quality assurance system to ensure quality service.


Based on the results of the research that has been done, the following conclusions can be drawn from the results of the data obtained and identified. The survival strategies implemented by private universities in facing the era of change are efficiency strategies, quality assurance, customer retention programs, intensive marketing programs, opening new programs, mergers, and acquisitions. From the results of the data obtained, the implementation of the defense strategy applied by private universities in facing the era of change are The efficiency strategy is to delay the construction and purchase of non-urgent infrastructure; make energy savings; apply the concept of Reduce Reuse and Recycle; The quality assurance strategy is to improve accreditation, and the quality of human resources and establish cooperation in order to improve the quality of private universities. The customer retention program strategy is to provide tuition fees that are affected by the economy and provide adequate facilities and services. An intensive marketing program strategy is opening new student registration online and creating a unique team for social media promotion. The strategy for opening new programs is to open new study programs and specialization departments to increase competitiveness, answer the needs of the industrial world, and adapt learning to the curriculum. A merger and acquisition strategy is one in which private universities merge or acquire other private universities to have new powers in their management. Furthermore, there are several human resource strategies carried out by private universities in Indonesia in facing the era of change, namely: career development, reward and compensation, employee welfare, spiritual development, mentoring and coaching, reskilling and upskilling, good university governance, knowledge transfer, government support, collaboration, and staff mobility.

Limitations and future study

Although a content analysis of public documents helps conduct an exploratory, this study should not presume that causality has been proven despite the predominance of themes that may be presented. The research is exploratory and relies on publicly available and accessible data sources, with the majority published in Indonesian. This study has some limitations regarding the objectives of the exploratory data analysis on the extended dataset. Future studies could include interviewing a sample representing stakeholders (i.e., business owners, managers, customers, government officials, business associations, and others) to obtain more information. Second, it focuses on a single country context, which may limit its generalizability. Exploring the same problem in a multi-country context would be both interesting and important. For future study, the typology of private universities can be adapted to different country situations to produce a more comprehensive classification of tactics.

Data availability statement

The original contributions presented in the study are included in the article/supplementary material, further inquiries can be directed to the corresponding author.

Author contributions

All authors listed have made a substantial, direct, and intellectual contribution to the work and approved it for publication.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

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Keywords: typology strategy, survival strategies, private university, strategic management, archival methods

Citation: Ramaditya M, Effendi S and Burda A (2023) Survival and human resource strategies of private higher education in facing an era of change: Insight from Indonesia. Front. Educ. 8:1141123. doi: 10.3389/feduc.2023.1141123

Received: 10 January 2023; Accepted: 14 February 2023;
Published: 20 March 2023.

Edited by:

Terrell Lamont Strayhorn, Illinois State University, United States

Reviewed by:

Mohamed Rafik Noor Mohamed Qureshi, King Khalid University, Saudi Arabia
Mohammad Najib Jaffar, Islamic Science University of Malaysia, Malaysia

Copyright © 2023 Ramaditya, Effendi and Burda. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Muhammad Ramaditya,