News / USA

US Boosts Higher Education Exchanges With Indonesia

Students visit recruiters from US universities seeking answers to questions about studying abroad, at a US education fair sponsored by the US Embassy in Jakarta, April 4, 2011
Students visit recruiters from US universities seeking answers to questions about studying abroad, at a US education fair sponsored by the US Embassy in Jakarta, April 4, 2011

Multimedia

Audio

Nearly a year after the Obama administration set a priority of boosting higher education exchanges with Indonesia, the U.S. is repeating its commitment to cultural diplomacy. As part of that outreach, it aims to double the number of Indonesian students studying in the U.S., a solution officials say will help the U.S. economy and improve relations with the rapidly developing Muslim-majority nation.

Thousands of Indonesian students mill about the marble rotunda of the medieval-looking Sampoerna building, where recruiters from more than 50 American universities pass out information on entrance requirements, program offerings and tuition.

The education fair was part of a bilateral trade and education mission headed by visiting U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sanchez. He said educational exchanges can provided an added boost to the U.S. economy.

"It’s good to expose our students, to create long-term relationships, and it doesn’t hurt the economy either, when people come and live in our country and study in our universities."

Last June, the Obama administration earmarked $165 million over five years to support university partnerships and student exchange programs in subjects such as agriculture, business and information technology.

The science arm of the Fulbright scholarship program will receive $15 million, while micro-scholarships will support intensive language training programs for both Americans and Indonesians.

The U.S. is reaching out to fast-growing economies like Indonesia and Vietnam as new markets for U.S. goods and services. International students injected nearly $19 billion into the U.S. economy last year, and Indonesia’s large population and rising middle class could open new opportunities for U.S. universities to bring in more tuition dollars.

The U.S. says it also wants to send more American students to Indonesia in the hope of improving understanding between the two countries. U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Scot Marciel said student exchanges create a personal basis for better relations.

But to entice more Indonesians to American schools, Marciel said the U.S. has some homework to do. "We have to do a much better job of A, marketing our universities, which are the best in the world; and B, changing this terrible perception that you can’t get a student visa. So I’m literally almost out on the streets grabbing people as they walk by saying, 'hey, we’ll give you a visa if you go study in America.'"

A recruiter answers questions from an Indonesian student looking to study in the US, at a US education fair sponsored by the US Embassy in Jakarta, April 4, 2011
A recruiter answers questions from an Indonesian student looking to study in the US, at a US education fair sponsored by the US Embassy in Jakarta, April 4, 2011

Marciel said more than 90 percent of Indonesian applicants get visas to study in the United States, but many people from Muslim-majority countries, like Indonesia, still feel unwelcome because of obstacles put in place after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.

The number of Indonesians studying in the U.S. has fallen steadily since 1998, when the Asian financial crisis sapped some families’ abilities to send children abroad. Visa issues depressed the numbers, which still have not rebounded. Fewer than 7,000 Indonesians studied in the United States last year, down about eight percent from 2009.

With improvements in universities elsewhere, as well as cheaper options closer to home, more Indonesians are choosing to study in Australia, Singapore and Malaysia.

But the U.S. is still home to many of the world’s most prestigious universities and research institutions. Many Indonesians who have studied abroad say the combination of strong academics and unique life experience is invaluable.

Erfan Lumban-Gaol, a former high school exchange student and recent graduate of University of Arkansas, explains. "The seven years I was out there, I believe I’ve changed a lot in a lot of ways. In a lot of thinking ways, and I take a lot of positives from American culture."

Lumban-Gaol studied management, a popular major among Indonesians. While English is still a favorite subject, many students also are choosing business and science, hoping their American experience can assist them in setting up their own businesses in a country where entrepreneurs are rare.

One student at the educational fair said she wants to apply the lessons she would learn in the United States to creating new leadership for her country. That fits well with a goal expressed by U.S. officials, who say American security is linked to Indonesia’s success.

For Education Minister Mohammad Nur, the exchange is a part of enhanced cultural diplomacy that will help develop Indonesia and strengthen bilateral friendships.

There is a lot of history behind Indonesia’s relationship with America, he said. That is why it needs to be strengthened. But Indonesia also wants to strengthen ties with Europe and other countries that can give it new insights.

At the education fair, some students said it does not matter which country they study in, as long as they can afford it. Others said they want to experience life in the United States, as long as there are good scholarship opportunities.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More