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US-Indonesia HE consortium launched

A new consortium of 12 US and Indonesian universities was launched this week at the NAFSA conference in St. Louis to promote educational exchange. The initiative is a continuation of the institutions’ partnership through the US-Indonesia Partnership Program for Study Abroad Capacity (USIPP), which stemmed a decline in Indonesian student traffic to the US after it formed in 2010.

Observers see great potential in Indonesia as a student market due to its economics and demographics

The two-year USIPP, which was backed by the Institute of International Education (IIE) and EducationUSA, ended in September 2012 but participants have agreed to form the USIPP Consortium in order to continue toward the objectives set by Presidents Obama and Yudhoyono in 2010. Doubling student exchanges by 2015 and increasing academic collaboration between the two countries top the agenda.

“We were very happy with the programme but it wasn’t enough,” said Mark Lazar, vice president of global scholarship and learning programs at IIE. “The Consortium will sustain the programme going into the future.”

“We were very happy with the programme but it wasn’t enough”

Observers see great potential in Indonesia as a student market due to its economics and demographics, but until recently the US was experiencing a decline in numbers, which fell from 12,142 in 1998 to 6,942 in 2009 according to Open Doors data.

However, after USIPP launched, the number of Indonesians studying in the US increased for the first time since 2006 by 2.7%, amounting to 7,131 students. Meanwhile, US students studying in Indonesia increased by 17% on the previous year, totalling 223.

Four summer exchange programmes established through the USIPP will continue through the Consortium including the six-week collaboration between Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, The University of Michigan and Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta entitled “Democratic Society and Religious Pluralism”.  The programme recently received a US$190,000 grant to be used over three years from the Henry Luce Foundation.

Other programmes include an Indonesia Field Study course which brings together Bogor Agricultural Institute and the University of Washington as well as the Exploring Indonesian Environments, Health and Cultures initiative between Northern Illinois University and Hasanuddin University in Makassar.

The consortium’s website will also serve as a matchmaker for US researchers wanting to collaborate with Indonesians

Organisers also hope to increase the exchange of students, scholars and administrators through measures such as fee waivers, language support, sharing of facilities and scholarships. The consortium’s website will serve as a matchmaker for US researchers wanting to collaborate with Indonesians academics working in the same field.

“This day is the beginning of a much bigger fight for the future,” said Rio Rini Moehkardi, head of the office of international affairs at Gadjah Mada University, the consortium’s co-secretariat with Lehigh University.

Miami Dade College, Northern Illinois University, Airlangga University, Bandung Institute of Technology and Bogor Agricultural Institute are among the Consortium’s 12 members and more institutions are slated to join in 2014.

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