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More Indonesians to Study in Europe

FILE - Then-French ambassador to Indonesia Corinne Breuze (C) poses with Indonesian students leaving for France to further their university education, during an event organized by the French Institute in Jakarta, July 12, 2016.

Juni Martoyo says she has no interest in sending her third child to study in the United States, although her two other children are at universities in Virginia and New Hampshire.

One of her main concerns is security, as mass shootings in public places, including schools or universities, have become more frequent.

"Secondly, English language is not interesting anymore,” Martoyo from Blitar, East Java, said in a phone interview with VOA. “However, safety is the main reason. Mandarin language is now more attractive."

Like many parents in Indonesia, Martoyo said she is looking for universities for her child in countries other than the United States.

Security and safety reasons contribute to the overall declining number of foreign students in the United States. Other reasons include the bureaucracy in obtaining permits, a decrease in scholarships because of budget cuts, and inconveniences caused by trade war and immigration limitations.

According to the Open Doors report released Nov. 18 by the Institute of International Education (IIE) and the U.S. State Department, the numbers of new student enrollments from South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Mexico, Nepal, Iran, England and Turkey showed decreases from 0.3% to 16.5%.

The number of Indonesian students enrolling in colleges or universities in the United States decreased by 3.4%, the IIE reported.

Where are those students headed?

Anondho Wijanarko, secretary of Directorate General Resources and Higher Education with the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture, told VOA that the Overseas Postgraduate Scholarship (BPPLN) awarded by the Indonesian government to its students is more likely to be distributed at colleges and universities in Europe. It is easier to get an acceptance letter to those universities, which gets the visa process started, than U.S. schools.

However, Wijanarko did not have an exact number comparing Indonesian college students studying in Europe with students studying in other countries.

Offsetting the declining number of some international students at American universities were increases to U.S. schools in the number of students from Taiwan, China (up 1.7%), India (up 2.9%) and Brazil (up 9.8%), the IIE report showed. Students from China (369,548) and India (202,014) to the U.S. comprise more than half of the more than 1 million international students in the United States.

However, the overall growth in the number of international students in American universities during the 2018-2019 year is only 0.05%, which is the lowest growth in 10 years.