Associate Vice-President, International Ian Rowlands in Indonesia

Friday, October 20, 2023

Ian Rowlands in Indonesia

I have just completed a superb visit to Indonesia on behalf of the University of Waterloo.  My second trip to Indonesia, it was an opportunity to deepen existing connections and to make new ones too. Waterloo has been active with Indonesian partners for decades. Led by the Faculties of Environment and Mathematics, collaborations around sustainable development and actuarial science have served to advance understanding, learning, training, and well-being.

Recently the Waterloo campus was host to celebrations of even more international links between Canada and Indonesia:

Indonesia is a large and rapidly-developing country. With heightened global confidence – not least of all following its successful G20 Leadership Year and its more-recent ASEAN Chairmanship – and a robust national economy, it is moving up the global league table. Through various means – including the Indo-Pacific Strategy – Canada has recognized the strategic significance of Indonesia, and Canadian political leaders’ multiple trips there during the past year are signals of these high levels of interest.

As Waterloo aims to be engaged in the world in meaningful ways to advance learning, research, and community, Indonesia is a strong candidate for many individuals and units to deepen existing connections and to consider new ones for several reasons.

First, many at Waterloo are active in areas that Indonesia has identified as priorities, including, the green economy, the blue economy, and digital transformations. 

Second, Waterloo now has strong relationships with a number of Indonesia’s most innovative universities. These include the Institut Teknologi Bandung, which I visited again last week and signed an MoU.  I also had the pleasure of visiting Universitas Prasetiya Mulya for the first time last week and signing an MoU. On these visits, I found colleagues who are keen to provide their students with multicultural experiences and global perspectives, to enrich their colleagues’ research investigations and community impact, and to innovate through cooperation and shared discovery in a range of higher education activities.

Third, the Indonesian government is keen to connect its universities with the world’s universities – keen to send its learners abroad, and keen to welcome global talent into Indonesia. Meetings last week with colleagues at the Ministry of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology – and associated pointers to programmes like the Beasiswa Indonesia Maju (BIM) Scholarship and the World Class Professor programme – reiterated this to me.

For Waterloo members, if links already exist – to any extent – I would encourage you to be giving them attention. Indonesian partners may represent opportunities for you to internationalize your students’ experiences in some way, or for you to bring global and comparative perspectives into your research. If you don't have connections yet, please reach out to us for assistance.

And for those Waterloo members who do not have links – but who are looking to develop international relationships and possibilities – I would encourage you to give Indonesia a look. This could be alongside a colleague who has established relationships. Or it could be organized by us, at Waterloo International: we would be happy to try to organize a conversation (about research and/or education interests) with peers from Indonesian partners. We regularly set up such initial virtual calls, to see if there are further conversations worth pursuing between international colleagues. Email us at if you would like to discuss this further.

Thank you, Indonesian colleagues, for a fantastic few days. I appreciate the warmth of the welcomes and the deep interests in exploring further connections.  I look forward to our work together!