Indonesia to open university sector to 100% foreign ownership

Indonesia's President Joko Widodo being greeted by supporters as he leaves the New Zealand Parliament in Wellington on March 19, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (REUTERS) - Indonesian President Joko Widodo has instructed his Cabinet to open up the university sector to 100 per cent foreign investment, and allow overseas institutions to open campuses, the head of the country's investment board said on Wednesday (April 4).

South-east Asia's biggest economy has had longstanding policies to protect sectors such as higher education from foreign investment, but Mr Joko's administration has been trying to open up more areas.

The move could also help raise lagging education standards in the country of more than 250 million people, where students often opt to study abroad if they can afford it.

"We're going to go from zero per cent to 100 per cent foreign ownership allowed overnight," Thomas Lembong told a conference.

Lembong gave no timeframe for when the policy will take effect.

The government has pledged to ease ownership rules in sectors that are partly, or entirely, closed to foreigners in a bid to attract more overseas investment.

Currently, Indonesia only allows foreign schools and universities to operate in the country if they collaborate with local partners and meet certain conditions.

Under Indonesian law, the government has to allocate a fifth of its budget to education-related spending. But the World Bank said that increased spending had not led to a meaningful improvement in the quality of education.

According to an International Student Assessment rankings for science, last carried out in 2015, Indonesia was in 61st place, well below Singapore at the top and Vietnam in 8th spot.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.