“70 to 80 per cent of students in Indonesia choose business majors, because a lot of Indonesians are self-employed and want their children to continue their business,” explains Kevin Putra Wangsa, a consultant at the Indonesian agency ICAN Education. “IT is always seen as something very important as far as infrastructure goes, of course. As for tourism and hospitality, Indonesia’s government is really pushing these and more jobs are going to be created in this sector.”
Another country providing key courses in these areas and others is the UK. Currently the third largest host of Indonesian students, with 1,300, it has clear room for growth, but its appetite to stimulate these numbers is equally evident.
Last year the minister for universities, David Willetts, signed an MOU with Indonesia’s minister of education and culture, Mohammed Nuh to “support institutional partnerships, promote student mobility and build education capacity”. The British Council also organised a series of events to promote UK HE activity in Indonesia, and this year provided leadership training for future heads of Indonesian universities.
“Indonesia is now higher up the priority list for many UK universities” says Buckle. “I think we’ll see a significant increase in numbers coming to the UK for study in business, engineering and design. The number of Indonesian students coming to the UK has been on the increase for the past three years and it’s interesting to see that it is the universities and colleges that have invested time and resource in the market which are reaping the returns, irrespective of their ranking.”
One such university is theUniversity of Nottingham which has 49 Indonesian students. The university recently held an event for Indonesian postgraduate students studying in the UK opened by the Indonesian Ambassador.
“Indonesia is a priority for us,” says Vincenzo Raimo, director of the university’s International Office. “This summer we’ll be holding our second Global Partners Conference in Jakarta in association with BINUS university and we’re growing links with others including The University of Jakarta, with whom we’ve been working for a number of years on an anti-terrorism studies programme.”
Professor Christine Ennew, provost of the University of Nottingham’s campus in Malaysia, organised the postgraduate event back in the summer – and has promoted the delivery of Nottingham degrees within Indonesia through twinning programmes. She echoes a number of educational professionals when she highlights finances and linguistic ability as the main challenges to expanding Indonesian mobility.
“English language provision in Indonesia is not as well developed as in many other areas and this can make it difficult for students – especially those outside of Jakarta and Central Java – to acquire the English language competencies that they need.”
The influence of Indonesia’s “burgeoning middle class” is likely to play a part in overcoming these hurdles. But institutions will also face challenge in differentiating themselves in an increasingly competitive market. Ennew claims that to thrive, institutions must show “a genuine commitment to Indonesians and their country to ensure that there is real value associated with their investment in their education”. If they can do this, then safe to say a fruitful future of exchange lies ahead.