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ACA’s US member, the Institute of International Education (IIE), announced on 27 September 2010 a new cooperative higher education programme between the United States and Indonesia. This is a two-year initiative sponsored by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and is focused on the development of “new, innovative study abroad opportunities for US undergraduates in Indonesia”. The overarching aim of the initiative is to help Indonesian universities better prepare to host American students. The project brings together six institutions from each country; these teams will develop and pilot six new study abroad programs for American students. Findings from an analysis of the pilot programs will be compiled in a final report, which can then be used as a “hands-on tool for international education practitioners”.
US-Indonesia relations are considered to be strategically important for both nations, but the flow of students between the two countries is highly uneven. Indonesia has sent, on average, 7 000 students per year to the US over the last several academic years, according to IIE’s annual Open Doors reports. However, only a tiny number of American students choose Indonesia as a study abroad destination; indeed, fewer than 100 American studied there in 2007/08 (the most recent year for which data are available). By helping the Indonesian institutions to evaluate and improve their international capacity, and by deepening the academic engagement of faculty and institutions in the US and Indonesia (among other objectives), the programme aims to increase the number of undergraduate students from the US studying for credit in Indonesia.
Although the scale of this initiative is quite small in this early stage, this work is clearly in line with additional efforts underway in the US to encourage American students to think beyond the more ‘traditional’ study abroad destinations of (Western) Europe.