More Australian branch campuses proposed for Indonesia

Western Sydney University joins Victorian and Queensland institutions in seeking presence in the world’s third biggest democracy

July 4, 2023
A map of Indonesia
Source: iStock

More Australian universities are set to establish operations in the giant archipelago to their north, according to prime minister Anthony Albanese.

Mr Albanese told a press conference that Western Sydney, Deakin and Central Queensland universities would “soon join Monash to bring Australia’s world-class tertiary education to Indonesian students and professionals”.

Western Sydney University (WSU) said approval of its application to establish a branch campus in Surabaya was “imminent”. It said it had already received permission to create the not-for-profit foundation or yayasan required as the campus’ legal entity.

Surabaya, in the east of Indonesia’s most populous island of Java, is the nation’s second biggest city. Times Higher Education understands that WSU’s campus would be a stand-alone operation. The proposal depends on final site selection and approval from WSU’s board of trustees as well as Indonesia’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Research and Technology.

WSU said the campus would offer degrees and “industry-relevant” short courses, focusing on STEM fields including information technology, data science and electrical engineering, along with a tech start-up incubator. Work on the campus was expected to start late this year with the first intake of students scheduled for September 2024 and enrolments reaching 2,500 “over time”.

Monash University opened the first foreign university branch campus on Indonesian soil in 2021. Deakin, which has won approval to establish the first foreign campus in India, also plans a joint foreign campus – with the UK’s Lancaster University – in Indonesia’s third city of Bandung in western Java.

While details are sketchy, the proposal would give local and international students the opportunity to obtain credentials from both universities, in a project facilitated and supported by Australian education services company Navitas.

The operation, which would also involve research collaborations with Indonesian universities, requires approval from Australian and British regulators as well as Indonesian authorities.

Central Queensland University, which established an executive education centre in 2019 in conjunction with Jakarta’s Bakrie University, said it was “exploring” other “delivery locations” but declined to give details.

The Queensland-based institution has long harboured ambitious plans for Indonesia, including a stand-alone campus in the Sumatran city of Medan and an agricultural technology park in Manado in northern Sulawesi.

A spokeswoman said the university wanted to improve “the pipeline of skilled and qualified workers” in “a very region-specific approach” which matched its teaching and research strengths with “local workforce need”.

Mr Albanese’s statement coincided with a visit to Sydney by Indonesian president Joko Widodo.

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