The European Union (EU) is continuing to build academic networks with Indonesia through the expansion of educational cooperation with Udayana University, setting up a European Information Center at the university’s campus in Jimbaran, southern Bali.
“It’s about us building up a network. To bring you and the European universities together as equal partners is something that can be mutually beneficial. In our investment with you and with all universities, we’re celebrating the cornerstone of our alliance, which has the greatest growth potential of any area, more so than trade and investment,” Julian Wilson, EU Ambassador to Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam and ASEAN, said during the official launch of the European Information Center (EIC) at Udayana University on Thursday.
EICs, one of which is also established at Gadjah Mada University (UGM) in Yogyakarta, are being launched following the recent establishment of the Indonesian Community for European Studies in September.
Besides serving as a base for an integrated network, the academic community aims to develop a more comprehensive European studies syllabus at universities across Indonesia. Despite the growing relevance for studying the EU as a model of regional integration among ASEAN state members, Muhadi Sugiono from UGM said that at present, only about 40 percent of universities across the archipelago, around 50 universities, offered courses on European studies.
Udayana University rector I Made Bakta viewed the establishment of the new center, which will serve as a library specializing in academic texts on European studies, as being of great benefit to students and lecturers in obtaining a better understanding of Europe. Udayana University has so far engaged in educational collaborations with the Sorbonne in France and Maastricht University in the Netherlands, where about 25 lecturers implement double degree programs.
“We hope to build such U-to-U [university-to-university] cooperations with other European universities across Germany and the UK,” said Bakta.
The EU, which now has 27 member states, shares similar expectations in expanding educational cooperation through both scholarship and collaborative research programs.
“Research and technical development, which is a ¤7 billion (US$8.92 billion) program, is an investment in our future through networks of universities to carry out joint research. That’s where I want to see our relationship heading next year,” said Wilson, citing the great potential in conducting advanced studies on Indonesia’s tourism, robust economic growth and diverse natural resources.
“Our relationship has been incredibly resilient compared to other countries. During my time here, it has been four of the toughest years for Europe, but our trade has expanded and our education, also,” Wilson ensured steady progress on the scholarship program in Europe despite the ongoing eurozone crisis.
Citing that every year, around 6,000 students study in Europe, of whom 1,000 are scholarship recipients, Wilson pointed out that the EU also benefited via its investment in education for Indonesian students.
“When you invest in Indonesian students being able to study in Europe, they return the investment many times over. Often they’ll return as great ambassadors for us, or others will do great business with Europe. So, it’s a sensible investment,” Wilson said.