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Observations from a Senior Trade Commissioner: Indonesia

28 Aug 2017

Sally-Ann Watts, Senior Trade Commissioner, Indonesia provides the following observations and insights of education opportunities, challenges, competitor activity and Austrade education initiatives.

  1. What are the key opportunities for Australian education organisations in your market? Please include reference to any relevant trade and investment drivers as well.
  2. Australia continues to be a popular destination for Indonesian students seeking an international university education, at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. Currently the majority of Indonesian students in Australia study management and commerce. As the Indonesian economy develops and increasingly adopts technological solutions, there is an opportunity for Australia universities to capture a larger share of outbound STEM students, most of whom currently chose the US, Japan or Germany.

    The Indonesian skills deficit is well known and the government has identified private industry partnerships as key to the upskilling of trade and vocational qualifications. Fortunately the Australian Qualifications Framework and Australia’s experience with internships are respected. According to the British Council report: The Shape of Global Higher Education: International Mobility of Students, Research and Education Provision (July 2017), Australia ranks number one in quality assurance and degree recognition, transnational education engagement, and the openness of our higher education system. Similarly, Austrade research conducted in 2016 indicated that the Future Unlimited brand had superior to very high levels of recognition and awareness in-market. Further information regarding this research will be published in a future MIP article.

    So in summary, there are opportunities to collaborate with universities particularly those outside Jakarta to develop joint or double degree offerings, establish research alliances and exchange both students and teaching staff. Polytechnics and training centres are also interested in working with industry applied training partners.

  3. What are the main challenges for Australian education organisations when operating in your market?
  4. Education institutions can only operate as non-for-profit entities in Indonesia and preferably in partnership with a local provider. There are no foreign campuses in Indonesia. Foreign pathway colleges and VET institutions have had some success with university and industry partnerships covering foundation studies, English language and curriculum development. Finding the appropriate partner, entry and pricing models are key to success.

    Lifting participation in and performance of all forms of education are government priorities. Multiple ministries with often complex and changing regulations have vested interests in the process. A local partner can help institutions navigate this landscape.

    Only a small proportion of Indonesians can afford to fund their own study in Australia. One possible solution is online delivery which has the potential to allow exporters of educational services to reach otherwise inaccessible market segments. Accreditation by the Indonesian government and joint establishment of quality controls remain challenges.

  5. What are Australia’s competitors doing differently in your market?
  6. While Australia has the largest share of Indonesians studying higher education overseas, there is nevertheless robust competition from Singapore, Malaysia, the UK and US. Often this is related to price, with reductions for English language training and first year study discounts. The Netherlands and British Council operate shopfronts in Jakarta although the promotional spend related to education tends to be focused on study exhibitions. Up until early 2017, the US (Education USA) was arguably the most active competitor in the market with workshops and events at least each quarter in Jakarta and to a lesser extent Surabaya and Makassar.

    According to Austrade research, alma mater of parent/sibling/relatives remains a compelling driver of destination choices. And in the alumni realm, Australia outperforms the competition with the Embassy taking a strategic approach across short course awards, alumni grants, social media contact groups and sector based alumni functions.

  7. What are the key education initiatives in your market plan (that you would like to encourage Australian education organisations to engage with)?
  8. The Science Your Future competition is Austrade’s signature initiative for 2017-2018. The competition is designed to:

    • Promote Australia’s capabilities in STEM to Indonesian selected High Schools in Jakarta, Makassar, Bali and Surabaya
    • Students will be invited to submit vlogs and essays illustrating how science can transform Indonesia across the major themes of future cities and future food
    • An eminent panel will judge the submissions and up to five pairs of Year 10/11 students plus teachers will be flown to and be hosted by selected Australian universities
    • The competition will open in January 2018 and the winners will be announced in May 2018 (all dates indicative).

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