The University of Leicester is playing a key role in helping to strengthen Indonesia’s developing higher education sector.
Senior figures from the University have just returned from an inaugural visit to the Asian nation, where they attended a meeting with a group of seven universities based across the archipelago.
The University is sharing its expertise and guidance to help build the country’s higher education sector – which has been developing for the last 15 years following the end of the repressive Suharto dictatorship in 1998.
Professor Douglas Tallack, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International) and Dr Michael Green, Director of Strategic Partnerships, attended a summit of seven universities, hosted by the University of Mataram on Lombok Island.
The consortium of universities included Syiah Kuala University, Sumatra, the University of Bangka Belitung, the University of Lampung, Mataram University, Lombok, Parahyangan Catholic University, Bandung, Pattimura University, Malaka, and Tanjungpura University, West Borneo.
Following the meeting in Indonesia, the University will share its expertise by holding training workshops on teaching and research management as well as symposia on Indonesian priorities – notably sustainable development and capacity building, Indonesia-specific issues related to Infection and Immunity and English Language teaching and testing.
In addition, Leicester will host Indonesian scholars taking their PhD or Masters degrees in the UK as part of the Indonesia-UK DIKTI scholarship programme, managed by the UK Higher Education International Unit.
Professor Tallack said: “The incredible geography of the Indonesian archipelago and its population of approaching 240 million people, with multiple ethnicities, make this a remarkable country to work with and also to observe as it seeks to recover from recent upheavals and the long years under the Suharto regime.
“We were most impressed by the combination of idealism and practicality shown by the senior and junior staff whom we met at Mataram University.
“They are keen to build capacity, according to their priorities. It was encouraging, for instance, to meet with academics in the Medical School but to find that they are already engaged in exciting inter-disciplinary research with their colleagues from Geo-Sciences (Geography and Geology), Mathematics, Chemistry and the Biosciences.”
Dr Michael Green returned with around fifteen detailed enquiries from academics across the consortium of Indonesia universities and in a wide range of subjects that fall well within the expertise of the College of Medicine, Biological Sciences and Psychology and the College of Science and Engineering.
Dr Green said: “If Departments and Colleges respond as they have in the recent past when we have opened up new markets, then we can expect these enthusiastic and committed academics to begin their doctoral studies at Leicester, fully-funded under the Indonesia-UK DIKTI scholarship programme.”
The scheme opened in June 2013 and will see up to 750 Indonesian scholars research their PhD or Masters degrees at participating UK higher education institutions over the next five years.
The scholarships will cover three years of PhD study fully funded by the Indonesian government including tuition fees, accommodation and stipend.
The University’s connection with Indonesia follows in a long line of successful capacity building relationships with countries and regions that are overcoming significant challenges to their higher education sectors.
As well as Indonesia, the University is working closely with Universities and Governments in Pakistan, the Kurdistan region of Iraq, Iraq itself, Libya, Colombia, Ethiopia, and Saudi Arabia.
Leicester’s plans to assist in English language provision will be handled by the University’s English Language Teaching Unit, whose Director Roger Smith has been a leading part of the University’s internationalisation strategy.
Roger Smith said: “At this stage, we are scoping opportunities for dedicated courses in Leicester but also a presence in Indonesia, along the lines of activities conducted in Kurdistan-Iraq.”
Professor Martin Halliwell, who has recently been appointed Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International) at Leicester, and Michael Green will be hosting a return delegation from Indonesia early in 2014 to consolidate and develop these exciting new initiatives.