Thursday, January 24, 2008

Why Keep Learning

On Words

Why Keep Learning


Jakarta – It is hard not notice the signs of educational institutions such as Premier Language Service, MIBT, Future and ACG dotted throughout Jakarta. In Indonesia, learning is big business.

And rightfully so, after all, investing in education produces bountiful dividends. Nipissing University of Canada reported in 2001 that a university graduate earned an average of 91% more than someone who possessed only a high school diploma. Over the course of a lifetime this worked out to more than one million Canadian dollars at the then present value. The benefits of a university degree are not merely monetary. Without a degree, you cannot even apply for many of the most rewarding and interesting jobs.

For many Indonesians, a qualification from a local university is not enough. Many prefer to study abroad. According to the Jakarta’s Australian Embassy’s 'Study in Australia' press release, 16,000 Indonesians study in that country alone. There are numerous reasons why people opt to study overseas. For some, it is frustration with Indonesia’s educational system. For others, it is a desire for freedom away from home or the wish to make oneself as marketable as possible.

Whatever the reason, it cannot be denied that an overseas education provides many benefits. First of all, the quality and standard of foreign education is, as a whole, of a higher quality than that which is offered in Indonesia. From The Economist Magazine’s ranking of the world’s top 20 universities, only one, Tokyo University at number 14, is not in Europe or North America.

The internationally-recognized qualifications you earn overseas can help you in a number of ways. They open up the entire world as a job market. They add value to your resume. They provide proof that you have been exposed to techniques, skills, perspectives and systems of thinking that you may not experience in Indonesia.

Language is often another deciding factor for people who are considering such a move. More than ever before, people have a need to learn English. It is the language of business and technology. Many international companies and organizations will not consider hiring employees who lack adequate language skills. Without the ability to process English, you are locked out of one-third of all the information on the internet, and a large percentage of the material published on business, medical and technology matters.

However, the advantages to an overseas degree notwithstanding, there is one prohibitive hurdle to realizing this dream. It is extremely expensive. CNN reported that the average cost of a four-year private college climbed above the (USD) $30,000 mark for the first time last year. For foreign students, who are charged a higher tuition rate, this cost is even higher. In addition to the course fees, students studying abroad also need to figure in travel and living expenses which can add up to more than (USD)$ 10,000 per year.

Fortunately, there are other, less-expensive ways to earn that same high-quality education nowadays. The first option is to complete a portion of the degree in Indonesia. Many overseas-based universities offer foundation programs here. These require students to spend fewer years overseas and help them make an easier transition to international studying styles and norms.

The second option is online learning. The fact that technology is making the world smaller is bringing traditionally brick-and-mortar classrooms to wherever the students may be. OnWords’ next column will explore these two ways of reducing the cost of an overseas education along with the qualities and factors to consider while choosing a program.

Until next column,



This article was originally published Dec. 16, 2007 in The Jakarta Post.

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