Foreign students complain of visa difficulties

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(right to left) Abdu Kalifa, a delegate from Universitas Brawijaya, and Prof. Marjono accompanying students from Kazakhstan and Gambia participating in the World Indonesianists Forum. (photo UB Doc.)

IO, Malang – Abdu Kalifa, a Universitas Brawijaya (UB) Accounting Doctoral Student from Libya who is also the head of the Libyan Students Union attended the World Indonesianists Forum in Bali on Tuesday (30/10/2018). Initiated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the forum was a place for Indonesianists to share knowledge, experience and ways to help bring Indonesia forward.

The forum was participated in by 200 people, comprised of Indonesianists from various backgrounds, including academics, researchers, students, and cultural arts activists. Out of the participants, 145 are millennials from 43 countries, including the United States, Australia, Botswana, Czech, Hungary, and China. They are currently students in various universities around Indonesia.

With the theme of the “Role of Millennial Generation”, the forum is held in the form of a plenary session and workshop, consisting of three panels with the themes of Building World Peace: Indonesia’s Contribution to a Peaceful World; Indonesia’s Achievement in Science, Technology and Development; and Promoting and Preserving Indonesia’s Rich Culture. This forum brings experts about Indonesia from various countries such as Prof. Anis H. Bajrektarevic (Austria), Prof. Xu Liping (China), Dr. Michael R. J. Vatikiotis (Australia), and Prof. Dr. Jan Van der Putten (Germany).

In the event, Abdu Kalifa met with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Head of Policy Analysis and Development Agency Siswo Pramono. He stated that the biggest difficulty faced by foreign students studying in Indonesia was obtaining visas. The problem, according to him, was confirmed by the Ministry of Research, Technology, and Higher-Education, which also attended the event. Besides the issue of visas, Indonesia’s attempt to give an opportunity to study for students from nations undergoing conflicts such as Palestine and Afghanistan and the Ministry of Research, Technology, and Higher-Education’s attempt to build Indonesia’s higher education was also expressed.

Kalifa, who received his Master’s Degree in Accounting from the faculty of Economy and Business, said he had enormous difficulty obtaining his student visa. He recounted the story of his friend who finished his studies in Universitas Brawijaya without a student visa. Generally, the students use visitor visas which are only valid for 60 days. While studying, they have to extend their visas for one semester.

This process was felt to be burdening for students and different from other countries which give student visas to foreign students when they receive their Letter of Acceptance (LoA). On the other hand, visas such as limited resident visas have many benefits, including the capability of obtaining a driving license. The problem with the visas, according to him, was not only faced by students but also by foreign lecturers teaching in Indonesia.

Other than the problem of visas, Kalifa also emphasized the lack of an internationalized atmosphere, especially in academia. From the hundreds of academic events, he stated that only a small number were of international nature. Even with that, Kalifa said there was an improvement compared to when he first came here in 2013. (UB Public Relations)