Remarks by Ambassador Blake at UIN Walisongo, Semarang

An American Education is Within Your Reach

The Rector of UIN Walisongo Professor Dr. Haj Muhibbin,other distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,   

Good afternoon. It is my great pleasure to be here today at American Corner, UIN Walisongo as part of my first trip to Semarang.

I’m frequently asked: what do I admire about Indonesia?  That’s a hard question because there is a lot to admire!  But if I had to single out one thing, that would be that Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, has established a strong multiethnic multi-religious democracy rooted in the tolerant traditions of its diverse society.  Those strong democratic values bind our two countries together and underpin our strong and growing partnership

One of the best parts of my job is the opportunity to travel across this archipelago and meet sharp, motivated young Indonesians such as all of you.  You are the future leaders of Indonesia.  Your country will rely on you to create new economic opportunities, defend and expand democracy and good governance, and lead Indonesia to play an increasingly important role on the world stage.

To fully prepare you the next generation requires investments in education at all levels.  All countries share this goal, and the payoffs are worth it.  For decades, American institutions of higher learning have focused on doing just that:  developing the greatest abilities in every student, so they have the confidence, skills, and knowledge to fulfill their dreams and drive change in our countries.

My highest priority as U.S. Ambassador is to strengthen the partnership between the United States and Indonesia.  One of the most meaningful and productive ways to do this is by building long-lasting connections through international educational exchange.  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 in a classroom.  That’s why nine Ministers in President Jokowi’s Cabinet elected to attend university in the U.S. and all of them have very positive things to say about their experience.

Our cooperation in education has resulted in increased student exchanges and mobility.  Between 2010 and 2013, there was a 14% increase in the number of Indonesians studying in the United States and a 123% increase in the number of Americans studying in Indonesia.  Those are encouraging numbers but we can do even better!

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.  That’s the largest number of international students in any country, by far and a strong vote of confidence in the value of a U.S. degree.

The number of foreign students illustrates another great strength of US universities and colleges, their tremendous diversity.  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.

But why is a US degree right for you?  Because the United States offers tremendous educational opportunities for everyone.  With over 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States, there is a program for every interest.  Studying in the United States – the global leader in higher education – is a great way to secure your future. American universities will prepare you to lead Indonesia into the next century.

Every independent ranking of international universities shows that the U.S. has the most prestigious, top-ranked schools in the world.  Our institutions are known for the quality of their facilities and faculties. 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.

U.S. universities lead the world in research.  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, which means greater access to cutting-edge research and the most advanced technology available.

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.

That’s also why some of the most successful companies in recent years have been founded by students at American universities – Google at Stanford University, Groupon at the University of Chicago, Facebook at Harvard University, and Under Armour at the University of Maryland.

I know that many of you are concerned with financing your education. We are fortunate to have many options available for Indonesian students wishing to pursue Master’s and Ph. D. study in the United States. The Fulbright Program, which is the United States’ most prestigious academic exchange program, offers such opportunities and with a deadline of April 15, there still is time to apply. Each year approximately 85 Indonesians are awarded full scholarships through the Fulbright Program.

Additionally, the Indonesian government’s LPDP scholarship provides for graduate study at any of 55 universities in the United States. Each university offers literally hundreds of graduate degree programs, as unique and varied as you.

It is also now easier and faster than ever to get a U.S. student visa. Most of the application process is done online, and the average wait to obtain a student visa is only three days from your interview.  Most importantly, over 96% of qualified student visa applicants are approved for a student visa.

I want to also take this opportunity to introduce you to EducationUSA.  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.  To help you connect with an EducationUSA adviser, they’ve traveled here today and will be available for consultations. They’ve also brought with them informational materials. After today, you can always connect with them via email or Skype.

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.