From the field: Factors influencing destination choice for Indonesian students

Short on time? Here are the highlights:

  • We continue our “From the Field” interview series today in conversation with Jony Liem, the director of Asian Excel Education Link (Axel) in Jakarta
  • The interview highlights the shifting destination choices of Indonesia students, and the growing popularity of Malaysia and China in particular, and explores a number of recommended strategies for recruiters working in this important growth market

With its massive, youthful population and burgeoning economy, Indonesia has long been considered a student recruitment market with great potential for growth. And indeed even conservative estimates point to steady increases in Indonesian outbound over the last several years.

But those recent trends also suggest that Indonesians are considering a wider range of study abroad destinations, including Malaysia, Japan, Singapore, and China. Those regional options are now competing for a greater share of the Indonesian market alongside traditional favourites such as the United States and Australia.

Jony Liem is a Jakarta-based director with Asian Excel Education Link (Axel). In the following interview excerpts, he expands on some of the factors that influence destination choice for Indonesian students and sets out some of the other trends that are shaping this important Southeast Asian market.

In our second interview segment below, Mr Liem highlights the economic and political climate in the country as some of the important underlying factors that are driving demand for study abroad. Many Indonesian students, he explains, will prioritise destinations that offer opportunities for students to work during and after their studies.

Looking ahead to career concerns, he notes as well the growing influence of the Chinese economy and a corresponding increase in Chinese language studies – along with increasing scholarships for study in China – as important reasons for China’s growing popularity as a study destination.

“The most popular [programme of study for Indonesian students] actually is still in business,” says Mr Liem. “The second [most popular] is technology…everybody is now talking about artificial intelligence so [many students] want to study that too.”

In our next interview excerpt below, Mr Liem expands on the fields of study that are most in demand and some of the new programmes that are getting more attention among Indonesian students today.

Our final video segment sets out some recommended strategies for institutions and schools that are planning to begin or expand recruiting activities in Indonesia.

Keeping in mind that Indonesia is the world’s fourth most-populous country, and the largest island nation (with more than 17,000 islands all told), targeted recruitment efforts are especially key. Mr Liem recommends that educators concentrate their efforts, “Definitely in Jakarta, the second [city to target] would be Surabaya, and the third Medan. Those are the three cities that you can focus on.”

For additional background, please see:



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