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Indonesia: security fears are barrier to studying abroad

An AFS Intercultural Programs survey has revealed the US, UK and Australia are the most sought-after study abroad destinations by Indonesian teens. However almost half (47%) of the respondents highlighted security issues in potential host countries as a major concern.

AFS study abroad IndonesiaAFS surveyed 5,500 students from Indonesia and found that 81% have considered studying abroad.

“The data sheds light on the acute awareness that Generation Z exhibits around the events affecting global security”

As part of a study focused on Indonesia as an emerging market for international education, AFS surveyed 5,500 anonymous students from Indonesia between the ages of 13 and 18, and found that 81% have considered studying abroad.

Of this, 88% of respondents highlighted the US, UK and Australia as very favourable or favourable study destinations. By contrast, Brazil and China showed a lower favorability rating of 39%.

47% of the respondents highlighted security issues in potential host countries as a major concern

Respondents said that they are influenced primarily by the reputation of the host country (84%), English as the language of instruction (78%), and the reputation of the host school (71%).

Some 56% of Indonesian students’ motivations to study abroad revolved around academic advancement, while cultural exploration is the primary focus for 44%.

However, security concerns (47%) superseded the fear of being homesick (46%), school re-entry requirements (41%), and having a favourable school/life balance (37%).

Affordability also remains a significant obstacle on the path to study abroad for Indonesian teens. The survey found 45% of all respondents indicated that they would not be able to afford an exchange abroad without receiving a full scholarship.

Additionally, 15% of respondents said they would select the lowest priced offering when looking for study abroad opportunities.

Students were less concerned about fitting in culturally (30%) and meeting new friends (26%) while on their exchange.

Apprehensiveness about security tops the list of personal concerns. Image: AFS

Apprehensiveness about security tops the list of personal concerns. Image: AFS


“The data sheds light on the acute awareness that Generation Z exhibits around the events affecting global security,” said AFS Business Analytics manager Hristo Banov.

“As it is, the youth and student travel industry bolsters a variety of best practices to keep participants safe.

“It is of utmost importance that we continue to demonstrate a strong understanding of risk management and safety along with an unwavering commitment to empowering global citizens ready to embrace the ideas of intercultural understanding and acceptance.”

AFS President and CEO Daniel Obst added: “It is great to see the strong interest in study abroad from a country like Indonesia, home to the largest Muslim population in the world, where nearly half of the citizens are under the age of 30.

“At the same time, it’s important that the study abroad programs and experiences they participate in include intentional global competence training.”

The AFS mission is to provide intercultural learning opportunities to help people develop the knowledge, skills and understanding needed to create a more just and peaceful world.

“It is great to see strong interest in Indonesia, home to the largest Muslim population in the world”

Each year around 12,000 young people take part in AFS Programs that are supported by over 42,000 volunteers and staff in 60 countries worldwide. AFS Indonesia was launched in 1956 and has exchanged over 3,000 students to date.

Last week, AFS launched its ‘Faces of the World’ campaign, which aims to provide scholarships to diverse young people who may not be able to afford on their own. 

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