In June 2014, a delegation representing Wales’ universities undertook an intensive five day mission to Indonesia, supported by the British Council Indonesia. The purpose of the mission was to showcase Wales’ strengths – both in research, and in learning and teaching, and to forge a new strategic partnership to benefit both Indonesia and Wales.
International relationships are fundamental to the health and future of the higher education (HE) sector in Wales. Wales is proving to be an attractive destination to international students, offering a unique, vibrant experience. International students enrich the student experience, enhancing learning and teaching, and help to make Welsh graduates more prepared for the international labour market. The economic impact of Welsh HE international activity is significant across a range of areas: tuition fees paid by international students; the off-campus spend of international students – contributing to business development and job creation; expenditure from overseas visitors coming to Wales to visit students; and indirect economic impact, as international students and staff often promote their place of study and / or work to others, and are likely to revisit in the future.
Indonesia is increasingly a target country for UK HE interactions, support and partnerships. The Indonesian government is prioritising the expansion of HE, research and innovation, as vital elements in enhancing the country’s international currency, and maintaining its current economic growth rates. Indonesia has the largest population and economy in South East Asia. Its economy is growing at 5.8%, bucking assertions about the impact of a large trade deficit – this is driving growth in the outwardly mobile potential student population. In 2012, the UK and Indonesian governments signed a memorandum of understanding, illustrating their commitment to educational cooperation. Indonesian interest in studying in the UK is rising, and the number of Indonesian Tier 4 UK student visas increased by 14% in 2013. At the same time, Indonesian student interest in Australia is falling, and outbound rates to the United States of America remain steady. The Indonesian market presents significant opportunity for Wales’ universities to increase international student numbers in key areas of interest. One example of these opportunities is the Indonesia-UK DIKTI scholarship programme, which is supported by the Indonesian government, supporting 750 Indonesian scholars to pursue postgraduate study, principally PhDs, at UK universities.
Delegates from Wales undertook a five day intensive visit to the region in June 2014, visiting four Indonesian cities – Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Solo, and Medan. The Welsh universities had the opportunity to explain their missions, subject specialisms, and opportunities for joint working to the Indonesian partners throughout the week. This offer included partnerships for joint degrees, staff exchange, student mobility, student recruitment, scholarships, and research collaboration across a range of discipline areas.
During the week, the delegation met with a range of representatives from a range of organisations and universities, including from: the British Council Indonesia; the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture; DIKTI Kemdikbud; the Indonesian Institute of Sciences; UK Trade and Industry; Gadjah Mada University; Yogyakarta State University; Muhammadiyah University of Yogyakarta; Sebelas Maret University; State University of Medan; Sumatera Utara University; and held a reception event for Wales’ alumni. The Welsh delegates took part in a range of site visits, as well as networking activities. The networking sessions were focused on three key areas:
- Joint research, or university to university research collaboration;
- Dual degrees and / or teaching collaboration; and
- Student mobility, including scholarship opportunities.
The Welsh delegation identified a range of skills and knowledge which they can offer to Indonesian partners in a range of areas, including: environmental studies; climate change; forestry; ocean sciences; food and water security; health care; green energy; technology; scientific innovation; and education. There are also opportunities for Welsh universities to support professional development, as well as English language provision. Each of the participating Welsh universities will be undertaking their own follow up activities with the new partners they have identified. There is also a range of Wales-wide activity that will be explored during the coming months. The mission, outcomes and next steps will be discussed by the HEW International Advisory Group during 2014.
Photographs from the mission are available here.