FOR Indonesians thinking of studying abroad, Australia is often their number one destination. Along with Dian Muhtadiah Hamna, and Wan Ulfa Nur Zurah from the Asia Pacific Journalism Centre, Regina Karis investigates.
According to the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Indonesia consistently ranks among the top 10 source countries of international students. In 2012 alone, as many as 17,000 students were recorded to be enrolled in various educational institutions across Australia, with numbers highest in New South Wales and Victoria.
Between 2011 to 2012, around 96,580 temporary entry visas were issued to Indonesian nationals with 8,211 of these being student visas. Forty-five per cent of these visas were issued to students enrolled in Higher Education while 29 per cent were issued to those enrolled in Vocational Education and Training — a little more than one per cent increase from the previous year.
Why study in Australia?
When asked why they chose Australia as an overseas education destination, many Indonesians were quick to name distance as one of the main deciding factors. From various Indonesian cities, Australia is reachable by a direct flight. It also offers a wide range of reputable universities and countless degrees that may not be available in their home country.
“Australia is the only western country that is close to Indonesia,” says Michelle Claudita, an engineering student from the University of Melbourne. “The [university] is also one of the higher ranked universities in the world.”
A Psychology student from the same university, Evelyn Tyas, agrees. “It’s quite close to my home country, compared to the United States.”
Other than the proximity, many Indonesian students also named the Australian lifestyle as one of the main attractions.
“I decided to study in Melbourne because Melbourne is the most liveable city in the world,” says Noor Alifa Ardianingrum, a student currently undertaking a Master of Environment from the University of Melbourne. “[The city] has a wide range of community initiatives in the area of sustainable lifestyle, namely urban farming, food awareness, community gardening, forest campaign, and others.”
Norr adds, “Melbourne is where technology meets arts and function—green building, green roof, energy efficiency. [It] also has good council initiatives in developing a sustainable city.”
“Additionally, Melbourne University has a good reputation, and there’s the possibility to gain international network and multicultural perspectives.”
I decided to study in Melbourne because Melbourne is the most liveable city in the world.” — Noor Alifa Ardianingrum, Master of Environment student
She’s not the only one. Vania Risha, a Biomedicine student from the University of Melbourne, also thinks that Australia’s multiculturalism is a bonus.
“Melbourne is a multicultural city with many facilities that make life interesting, for example libraries and museums,” Vania says.
Nurwahidah, a 16-year-old Indonesian student from Taylors College, chose Australia for various reasons, including the country’s conducive learning environment and the active interactions between the teachers and students.
“We normally hold discussions with the teachers. If there are things that we don’t understand, the teacher will happily assist us until we understand the lesson completely,” she explains.
A graduate of SMP Al Azhar Jakarta, Nurwadihah also mentions that her English skills are definitely improving. Talking to friends from many countries around the world has helped her become more confident when using English in her day-to-day activities.
Staying after education
Australia is not only popular as a study abroad destination; many students also spoke of staying after finishing their degree to work or pursue their other passions and possibilities, if given the chance.
“I went home because my student visa [expired],” explains Marcella Purnama, a Meld journalist and a Psychology and Media and Communications graduate.
“I don’t regret it a hundred percent, but given the chance, I would love to bet my way through Aussie corporations. I love Melbourne.”
…if I had the choice, I would still choose to come back.”
Meanwhile, others are excited to share the knowledge and experiences they reaped overseas to the people back home.
Noor notes that Australia has much to offer for her country in terms of sustainability initiatives and mentions the importance of communicating these to raise awareness.
“After finishing my study, I have to go back to [Indonesia] because of regulation restrictions. But if I had the choice, I would still choose to come back.”