19 June 2013 at 9:00 am

Understanding Indonesia’s education market

An article by Suwarni Puspita, Indonesia’s SUN Education Group.

Every year, more and more Indonesian students look to further their studies overseas. There is an awareness of the need for a better quality of education and the current circumstance in Indonesia is that facilities and quality education are somewhat still below expectations, especially when compared to abroad. International schools based in Indonesia also take a part of the increasing number of Indonesian students looking for an international education. After finishing at these high schools with an “overseas” qualification, these students usually opt to pursue their tertiary study abroad.

With the number of Indonesian students choosing to go abroad increasing each year, why has New Zealand not truly benefited? It is simply because of the lack of information about New Zealand and the perception that New Zealand is a very quiet country with more sheep than people. We in Indonesia seldom see advertisements about New Zealand or the institutions while other countries have put lots of effort in branding their country and their institutions consistently. People are all the same. We tend to remember products that have a strong branding.  So, if you want people to always remember your product, you need to keep reminding people by persistently branding your product to the market.

At first, I had the same perception of New Zealand being quiet too. Joining the May 2013 trip was my very first time to see New Zealand. I was so excited.

I got a chance to visit representative institutions in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. In the South Island, my first destination was Christchurch where I found lots of major work to rebuild and renovate its buildings.

The first day touching down in Auckland, and seeing the city itself, changed my perception. Auckland is not as crowded as in my country, Indonesia, of course. But it is not as quiet as what I thought! The city has everything that a student needs - shops, cafes, restaurants, flats, shopping centres and even the education institutions are all within walking distance.

New Zealand is such a perfect place to study. You have everything in town, people are so nice and friendly, and it’s very safe. I don’t need to worry about pick-pockets or drunken people when walking with my female friends back to hotel at night.

After seeing these cities, and visiting various institutions, I also found that New Zealand has a great education system. Students are taught in a very practical way, both, in high schools and tertiary institutions. And this is what New Zealand needs to show. You need to educate the Indonesian market about this and change the perception of New Zealand.

Indonesian families are unique. They have a strong family relationship. Their children’s study destination is also influenced by their relatives and friends. Parents feel more comfortable about letting their children study in a country where they have relatives or friends staying. Most of the time, the experience and opinions from their relatives play a great part in their decision. Apart from that, Indonesian parents will usually send their children overseas after they graduate from high school. They believe at this stage their children are mature enough and can take a good care of themselves overseas. Therefore, tertiary education is more attractive to the Indonesian market.

Recently, the postgraduate market for Indonesian students has also been growing significantly. For postgraduate students, study duration, value for money and the opportunity for job placement are the key areas they are usually looking at. Little do they know that New Zealand offers a postgraduate job search visa and the opportunity to work and stay in New Zealand after they graduate.

So, by understanding Indonesian market better, I believe institutions can plan a better strategy for their marketing activities. Together we can promote New Zealand as one of the top destinations for Indonesian students to consider as a study destination.

Key points:

  • New Zealand has a low profile in Indonesia

  • To change this we need persistent and consistent marketing in Indonesia

  • The Indonesian market is primarily a tertiary education market, but there are opportunities for other sectors

  • The postgraduate market is growing significantly.

SUN Education describes itself as the “most complete” International Educational Consultancy firm in Indonesia, providing the largest selection of quality education and country destination under one roof with its main focus being Australia, Singapore, UK, USA, Malaysia, New Zealand, Switzerland and Canada. Suwarni has more than eight years of student recruitment activity and currently works with 10 countries including New Zealand.

Suwarni Puspita, Branch Manager, Mal Ciputra, with Indonesia’s SUN Education Group recently took part in a visit to New Zealand with other education agents from Indonesia. She offers some impressions of the opportunities and challenges for New Zealand institution, and in particular tertiary institutions, in Indonesia.

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