Indonesia has a long history of sending students to study abroad. With a population of 237 million, Indonesia offers a huge potential market for U.S. providers of secondary, tertiary, and vocational education. In 2010, around 6,943 Indonesian students studied in the United States. Approximately 62 percent of these Indonesian students are pursuing undergraduate degrees while 23 percent are in graduate studies. Indonesia is the eighteenth-leading place of origin for students coming to the United States and ranked number three in Southeast Asia after Vietnam and Thailand.
In the past five years, Indonesian students have studied at approximately 500 institutions in the United States, with 34 percent of the students studying at the twenty most popular colleges. Forty-six percent of Indonesian students study in the following five states: California (21%), Ohio (8%), Washington (7%), Massachusetts (5%), and Oregon (5%).
The majority of students from Indonesia study at the undergraduate level (63%), followed by the graduate level (23%). Fields of interest in graduate studies include: MBA and/or other business-related fields (such as International Business, Finance, Marketing, and Accounting), Computer Science and Engineering studies.
U.S. universities and community colleges may become more visible in the Indonesian market through participation in education fairs and/or by working with recruitment agencies. This latter method is popular with prospective Indonesian students and their parents, because in addition to answering questions about schools abroad, the agencies help with registration with universities, accommodation arrangement, airport pickup, and visa application. Indonesians normally prefer one-stop package arrangements like this.
In addition to recruiting Indonesian students to study in the United States, U.S. universities and community colleges can enter the Indonesian market in several ways. To overcome the competitive disadvantage of the relatively high cost of obtaining U.S. education, the “2+2” program is becoming popular. Under this program, students spend the first two years in local universities and they are transferred to foreign universities for the final two years to obtain their undergraduate degrees.