Unlocking Growth: Acumen’s Strategic Journey into Indonesia’s Thriving Higher Education Landscape

Acumen, part of the Sannam S4 Group, is set to make a significant expansion into Indonesia. In this article, we delve into the compelling reasons behind Acumen’s strategic move to enter the Indonesian higher education market. Indonesia’s unique characteristics and emerging opportunities have positioned it as a prime destination for educational institutions seeking growth and diversification.

Why Indonesia?

In an interview announcing the move into Indonesia with Haike Manning, Acumen’s Executive Director, South East Asia, insights were gained into the rationale behind this strategic move. Manning highlighted Indonesia’s immense population as a driving force. With over 275 million people, Indonesia is the fourth most populous country globally, making it a demographic goldmine. The country’s youthful population, accounting for over 40% of South East Asia’s youth, presents a thriving market for education.

Indonesia’s population size alone sets it apart as a significant destination for international higher education institutions. Manning emphasised that demographic factors are the foundation for driving interest in international education. Therefore, to establish a presence in Indonesia is to tap into a vast and growing student market.

Political Climate and Post-COVID Opportunities

Another compelling factor influencing Acumen’s decision is the evolving political climate in Indonesia. Manning noted that the country has become more open to international connections and engagement, translating into opportunities for various sectors, including education. Recent changes in regulatory frameworks indicate a more welcoming environment for foreign institutions.

The post-COVID era has also sparked a recovery and shifted perspectives, especially regarding international education. Indonesia, along with several other key economies in the region, is experiencing robust economic growth, contributing to increased income levels. This economic rebound has led to a newfound openness to study abroad opportunities among Indonesian students.

Key Factors Making Indonesia Attractive

Indonesia’s allure as an educational destination extends beyond its population. Manning explained that the country’s evolving education system is preparing students for international education from a younger age. More schools now teach bilingual and international curricula, setting the stage for an influx of Indonesian students looking for global educational opportunities.

Furthermore, Manning emphasised that Indonesia’s re-emergence as a sought-after destination is, in many ways, a rediscovery of its longstanding promise. The nation’s enduring appeal, rooted in its vast population, economic potential, and shifting political climate, makes it a compelling choice for educational expansion.

Comparing Indonesia’s Higher Education Demand

When evaluating the demand for higher education, Indonesia stands out among its regional counterparts. Manning noted that Indonesia is the third largest source of outbound students for higher education in the region, following Vietnam and Malaysia. Indonesian students’ presence is significant across various destination countries, including the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.

While Indonesia’s numbers might not rival education giants like China or India, it holds a unique position within the South East Asian market. Manning highlighted the increasing numbers of Indonesian students choosing postgraduate programmes, particularly in the UK. This shift underscores the country’s evolving higher education landscape.

Regulatory Environment and Growth Trends

The regulatory environment in Indonesia has undergone significant changes in recent years, favouring international higher education institutions. Manning discussed Regulation 538 of 2018, which allows foreign institutions to establish branch campuses in Indonesia. This pivotal change opens doors for foreign universities to directly engage with Indonesian students.

Additionally, a 2020 decree has made it easier for foreign institutions to establish joint programmes in Indonesia. These regulatory shifts mark a transformative phase in Indonesia’s higher education landscape, with international collaborations and branch campuses poised to play a central role.

Challenges and Risks

Expanding into Indonesia’s higher education market presents both opportunities and challenges. Acumen, like other institutions, must consider the local nuances and expectations of Indonesian students and parents. Manning emphasised the importance of maintaining a local touch, hiring staff compliant with Indonesian labour laws, and understanding the cultural context.

Foreign institutions must demonstrate how their presence benefits Indonesia and its students. Collaborations and partnerships should be mutually beneficial, aligning with the country’s educational goals.

Acumen’s decision to enter the Indonesian marketplace reflects the country’s immense potential as a hotspot for international education. Indonesia’s demographic advantages, shifting political climate, and evolving regulatory environment position it as a strategic choice for expansion. By embracing local nuances, collaborating effectively, and understanding the unique characteristics of the Indonesian market, Acumen aims to create a lasting impact on education in this dynamic nation.