The Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Indonesia, in cooperation with Universitas Nusa Cendana (UNDANA), held a webinar titled “EU Ambassador Talk: COVID-19 Lessons for Future Education and Economic Recovery” on 29 September 2021. Rector of UNDANA, Prof. Ir. Fredrik L. Benu, Msi., Ph.D, officially opened the event and the EU Ambassador to Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam, H.E Mr Vincent Piket, delivered the Ambassador Talk to hundreds of academics and students.
Globally COVID-19 has infected 232 million people, killed 4.7 million people and has pushed 100 million people into extreme poverty and 500 million people under the expanded poverty line – to living on less than US $5.5 per day. In response to the impact of the pandemic in partner countries, the EU, its Member States and European financial institutions – “Team Europe” – responded with a €46 billion support package between April 2020 and April 2021 to help partner countries address the immediate health and socio-economic consequences of the pandemic.
EU Ambassador Vincent Piket said, "Last year, the world took an unprecedented turn with the COVID-19 pandemic, a crisis which shook economies and societies globally. Team Europe – a joint action by the EU, its Member States and European financial institutions – has been supporting Indonesia's COVID-19 response and recovery. To date, Team Europe has mobilised over €200 million in grants and loans to support Indonesia.”
The EU is also a strong supporter of the COVAX Facility, the global initiative that aims to ensure fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for all. Team Europe is a lead contributor with close to €3 billion for the COVAX Facility to help secure at least 1.8 billion doses for 92 low and lower middle-income countries, including Indonesia.
“EU-Indonesia partnership focuses on providing a timely and comprehensive response to the pandemic, and ensuring a green and inclusive recovery. To ensure the recovery is green and inclusive, our future partnership will prioritise the protection of Indonesia's rich biodiversity, the development of sustainable urbanization and infrastructure, in addition to exchange in research and higher education,” added Ambassador Piket.
On higher education, Europe is a very popular destination for Indonesian students and researchers. More than 4,000 students depart to study in Europe every year. Annually, around 1,200 Indonesian students and researchers receive a European scholarship: from the EU Member States or from the EU’s Erasmus+ programme.
The pandemic has had an impact on the Erasmus+ scholarship programme, with higher education institutions, students and scholars experiencing varying degrees of disruption of their activities and mobility. However, the EU has put in place several supporting measures in order to minimise disruptions.
This year, 81 Indonesian students were awarded Erasmus+ scholarships to pursue Master degree programmes, while 58 students and university lecturers were awarded short-term exchange scholarships. Notwithstanding the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the awardees were able to depart for Europe to commence their studies in universities in Europe.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the EU has also supported research partnerships between EU and countries around the globe, including with researchers in ASEAN. So far, the EU has invested €780 million into research and innovation programmes targeting the pandemic.
The Rector of UNDANA, Fredrik L. Benu stated, "We hope that the Ambassador Talk today could be seen as the initial step for a stronger collaboration between UNDANA as well as East Nusa Tenggara and the EU, to improve access and quality of the Indonesian higher education sector. The cooperation is expected to cover the provision of scholarships for lecturers and students to continue their studies, joint-research, student and academia exchange, training, and many more. Those programmes could be directed to develop local resources in agriculture, farming, and fisheries while mitigating challenges due to climate change.”
The EU Ambassador Talk is a series of public events aimed at addressing topical issues and increasing the understanding of the EU, its policies and priorities. The event will continue throughout the year, involving various universities across Indonesia. Earlier EU Ambassador Talks were held at the Universitas Indonesia, Depok, Universitas Muhammadiyah Pontianak. Future talks will be held in other provinces, such as Aceh and North Sulawesi.