Jayanty Nada Shofa, Singapore – Indonesia sends more than 3,000 students to study in the UK every year. But number-wise, there is still room for more Indonesians to study in British universities.
"We think there is a lot of room for growth for more Indonesian students to benefit from the top-class higher education in the UK," British Council Indonesia country director Summer Xia told reporters on the sidelines of the 2022 Going Global Asia Pacific in Singapore on Tuesday.
"This has been recognized by the Indonesian government who has provided a large number of scholarships for students to go abroad [such as] the LPDP [Indonesian Endowment Fund for Education] and the one-term-long Indonesian International Student Mobility Awards [IISMA]," Xia said.
The annual Indonesian student enrollment in UK universities is still much less compared to other sending countries such as China. There are also more Indonesian students picking close neighbor Australia as the destination country compared to the UK – something that Xia attributes to the location.
"The UK is a little bit further compared to Australia. Students and families sometimes hesitate to go that far, but that can also be turned into an opportunity. Because in the UK, with cities such as London and Manchester, and also it being based in Europe, it would offer wonderful opportunities for people to experience different cultures and to be able to travel and explore Europe," Xia said.
According to Xia, there is also a perception among some Indonesians that studying in the UK is expensive.
"This is something I want to sort of demystify. If you look at the long-term, the UK provides good value for money. It only takes three years to do a bachelor's degree in the UK, and one year for a master's degree," Xia said.
"If you put that into perspective, compared to the US, it will take four years for a bachelor's degree, and at least two years for a master's," he added.
Another important factor is word of mouth.
"This is where we want to do more, we understand how important it is to get advice from family members and friends in Indonesian culture. By having the UK alumni as ambassadors, [namely] the Indonesian students who have studied in the UK. They are the best people to advise others based on their own experience," Xia told reporters.
The British Council has recently launched the Alumni UK network. As the name suggests, the network helps alumni of British universities across the globe to keep in touch with one another. The platform also enables alumni to access continued learning and new career opportunities. More than 7,500 alumni from over 100 countries – including Indonesia – have expressed interest in joining the Alumni UK network.
"This is our global professional network of Alumni UK. All those people who have studied in the UK can build better connections with one another. We can support them with career development, and in return, they can also inspire and influence many more Indonesian students to follow in their footsteps to study in the UK," Xia said.
HESA data showed that about 99,160 Chinese first-year students enrolled in UK universities for the 2020/2021 academic year. Followed by the European Union (66,680 entrants) and India (53,015). Statista reported that there were 13,880 tertiary-level students from Indonesia in Australia this year.