Australia Awards in Indonesia

The Australia Awards are prestigious, transformational scholarships and short courses offered to emerging leaders for study, research and professional development in Australia

Strengthening Australia’s Educational Links with Indonesia

12 Sep 2022

Strengthening Australia’s Educational Links with Indonesia

This article was written by Professor Shahram Akbarzadeh and originally published on the Deakin University website.  

The Australian Government's development policy – Australian aid: promoting prosperity, reducing poverty, enhancing stability – recognises higher and tertiary education as a central pillar of any development relationship.

Extending development programs like the Columbo Plan and the New Columbo Plan, the Australia Awards scheme (managed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) has provided 2075 scholarships and short courses to individuals from 27 developing countries at an estimated costs of $200 million. The scheme continues the two-way educational exchange which underpins Australia's bilateral relations with our region.

Under the scheme, the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation (ADI) recently concluded a two-week capacity-building program for 25 colleagues from the Indonesian International Islamic University (IIIU). The Australia Awards Short Course on Capacity Building for the Management Team of IIIU covered insights and benchmarking on financial governance, internationalisation and student mobility, as well as information technology provision. The workshops were designed to share expertise on tertiary education provision and inspire a new generation of university leaders from one of Australia’s most trusted regional partners.

The Indonesian International Islamic University is situated in Depok, just outside Jakarta, and develops innovative research on Islam and Muslim societies. Partnering with ADI made sense for IIIU faculty and staff. ADI’s deep ties and understanding of the region and the Muslim world presented significant avenues for collaboration.

The two-week program spanned multiple sites at Deakin Burwood, as well as sessions with Monash, the ACU, RMIT, the University of Sydney, and visits to the ANU and Indonesian Embassy in Canberra. By all accounts, it was a busy, vibrant and productive few weeks, as program lead Professor Shahram Akbarzadeh explained. “This was an amazing opportunity to work with IIIU leadership and staff on promoting research excellence and collaboration. Some of the best research is a result of collaborative work and we have certainly laid the foundation of ambitious goals,” said Professor Shahram Akbarzadeh.

This was echoed by program co-lead, Dr Zahid Ahmed, as well.  “IIIU is a new Indonesian university, founded in 2016, therefore there is a lot that its delegation could learn from established higher education institutions in Australia. Considering the prominence of multifaceted academic cooperation between Australia and Indonesia, we are happy that at Deakin University we were able to contribute through capacity-building of IIIU in areas of internationalisation, financial stability, and digitalisation,” said Dr Zahid.

Along with learning experiences and capacity-building with university leaders, participants had hands-on networking opportunities with Australian Ambassador to Indonesia Penny Williams, Member for Wills Mr Peter Khalil, and Executive Director of the Australian Intercultural Society Mr Ahmet Keskin.

The genuinely collaborative program saw Deakin and IIIU staff and scholars develop new relationships and cement long-standing ones. Guest speakers from across Deakin included Alfred Deakin Professor Julie Owens (Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research), Associate Professor Bonnie Yim (Associate Dean, International & Engagement), Alfred Deakin Professor Fethi Mansouri (Director, ADI), Professor Greg Barton (Chair in Global Island Politics) and Professor Ishan Yilmaz (Chair of Islamic Studies and Intercultural Dialogue).

Mr John Molony (Pro Vice-Chancellor and Vice President (International)), who also contributed greatly to the event, shared Deakin's aim to deepen its connections in Indonesia including with IIIU. “As a leading young university with a mission of advancing social justice, and inter-cultural understanding and harmony, IIIU is playing a vital role in the Indonesian higher education ecosystem. Deakin has a long-term vision for building our relationships in Indonesia and we look forward to doing more with IIIU in the months and years ahead,” said Mr John Malony.

For Dr Chaider Saleh Bamualim, Secretary, Indonesian International Islamic University, the impact on Australia’s strategic partnership with Indonesia through higher education, will also be enduring. “Indonesia has increasingly become a strategic partner in the last couple of years which means that the Indonesians now have the opportunity to increase their participation and engagement in Australian universities,” he said.

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