Hope for Indonesian language courses but time is tight

A month ago, 14 universities taught Indonesian language programmes. Now it’s 12 and there’s a warning more could go

Last month La Trobe U announced a “cessation” of Indonesian (CMM November 12) and this week Murdoch U included the language in disciplines it plans to teach-out (CMM December 2).

Liam Prince (Australian Consortium for ‘In-Country’ Indonesian Studies) fears others will follow.  In 1992, 22 universities taught Indonesian but after three decades of declining enrolments he warns courses in the 14 were variously “teetering on the edge of financial viability” pre-pandemic or being cross-subsidised.

“Niche or marginal disciplines like Indonesian not ‘paying their way’ are going to be very lucky to survive into 2021 and 2022,” he warns

Mr Prince acknowledged that the government’s new UG study charges that cut the cost of language courses, “might be just the kind of simple, compelling message that sees Indonesian language enrolments tick up nationally over the next few years. But we won’t get to test the efficacy of the new policy settings if Indonesian language departments fail to survive COVID-19.”