Remarks by Ambassador Blake at the International Islamic Education Council, Jakarta

I am so pleased to be here at the International Islamic Education Council (IIEC).

I understand that some of you in the audience here today participated in the San Diego program last August.  Can you raise your hands?

Did you like your trip?  I’m so glad that you had the chance to see one of the most beautiful cities in the United States, and to study at one of our top public universities.

Educational exchange is so important, so valuable, and so necessary in today’s global economy.  It’s also a lot of fun.

I wanted to come speak to you today because my highest priority as U.S. Ambassador is to strengthen the partnership between the United States and Indonesia.

And one of the most meaningful and productive ways to do this is by building long-lasting connections through international educational exchange and studies in our two countries.

Education, and particularly international education, transforms lives. There is no better way to understand one another, and our cultures, than by sharing the experience of learning together.

This is a great time to study in America. Right now, in addition to the nearly 8,000 Indonesians studying in the United States, there are well over 800,000 international students on American campuses.

But don’t just listen to us.  Ask your fellow foreign students where they want to study.  According to a survey of U.S. colleges conducted by the nonprofit Institute of International Education, the U.S. once again is far and away the top destination for foreign university students.   The number of international students in U.S. colleges and universities increased about 8% last year to nearly 886,000.

Why are U.S. universities in such demand?  First because they are considered to have the best facilities and faculties in the world.  The United States accounts for one-third of all research and development funding globally.  American universities spent more than $63 billion on research and development last year,

This leads to the second reason:  investment in research at universities fosters creativity and innovation.  The U.S. is credited with producing the world’s most innovative and entrepreneurial graduates.  That’s why most of the Nobel prizes in science, economics and medicine have been awarded to people who studied or who are conducting research in the U.S., many of them foreign researchers.  You too could be a part of path-breaking research!

Third, college campuses in the United States go out of their way to attract students and staff representing cultures, ethnicities, and religions from around the world because these different people can teach us new ways of thinking and working with each other.  But they are also why America is one of the most friendly and welcoming societies in the world.

Now I would like to correct some of the myths that I know are out there regarding study in the U.S.

I have heard many people say that it is hard to get a visa to study at U.S. colleges and universities, and that is simply not true.

Over 95% of visa applications submitted by students are approved.

I have also heard that many Indonesians think that studying in the U.S. can be expensive.  While tuition at some institutions can be high there are over 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States including 2 year colleges where the average yearly tuition is about $3000.

Many Indonesian students have been able to start their academic careers at these two year or community colleges and then transfer to major U.S. universities on scholarship.

Let me speak for a minute about community colleges because they are a unique facet of the American higher education system, but not well understood here.

The community college route can be a wise choice for those who want a smooth transition academically or ultimately a bachelor’s degree at a lower cost.

When you spend two years at a community college, you receive an associate degree, after which you can enter the workforce or choose to spend two more years at a college or university to receive your bachelor’s degree. Many community colleges have pathways that make transferring credit very easy.

My wife, Sofia, is a good example of this. Sofia started off as an international student at two-year community college and from there; she earned a scholarship to Brown University, one of the top schools in the United States.

No matter which university you choose, you will earn a degree that is recognized and respected world-wide, opening the door to exciting career opportunities.  That’s why 9 Ministers in the current Cabinet of President Jokowi got their degrees in the U.S.

I understand just a few minutes ago, you heard from an EducationUSA advisor.

EducationUSA is an organization that you can trust to provide unbiased, accurate, and comprehensive information about studying in the United States, and best of all, their services are free.

EducationUSA advisers don’t advocate for a single university; they neutrally represent all accredited institutions of higher learning. They can help you select an institution that is perfect for you, find scholarships, and walk you through the application process.

I hope that you will connect with our EducationUSA advisor here today, or later online, or at the education corner at @america in Pacific Place mall.

In closing, I hope that each of you will accept my invitation to study in the United States and that this event marks the first step in your journey to study in America.
As prepared.