Reasons on Why Indonesian Scientists Pursue Careers Overseas



Petir Garda Bhwana

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  • Illustration of research at the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology. Source: Eijkman Institute document

    Illustration of research at the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology. Source: Eijkman Institute document

    TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - A significant number of Indonesian potential talents in the field of information technology and scientists have chosen to pursue careers overseas. This is a reality that the country must face.

    Citing, science and technology (IPTEK) and information researcher at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) Indri Juwita Asmara argues that there are a number of literatures revealing a number of factors motivating the intellectual migration. Among those, Asmara mentioned the potential higher income, job opportunities, better work environment, higher standard of living, and the availability of research and development facilities.

    Indri and her team once held a research on diaspora scientists which revealed the two main factors on the intellectual migration, which includes the attractiveness of working overseas due to living quality and facilities that support research activities and global competition based on professional achievements.

    The second one is the situation in Indonesia that has affected diaspora scientists to venture elsewhere such as being discouraged by the system, lengthy and convoluted bureaucracy, and the sense of being underappreciated by their own country. 

    “There are 60 percent of diaspora scientists who agree they were not appreciated and made them decide to venture overseas. The availability of fields of knowledge, research needs, broader knowledge in the field they are interested in, and the source of funding reflect the facilities available overseas,” said the researcher. 

    In general, scientists are eyeing developed countries with high research fundings and are immediately needed by the industry, such countries include the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Australia, and Singapore. 

    “Despite strong factors encouraging them to work overseas, the desire to return to Indonesia remains,” she said, reported. 

    There are a number of factors that Asmara believes can be improved in Indonesia such as how to create a positive ecosystem for research and innovation activities through government institutions, universities, and the private sector. All of the factors must involve the scientists as part of the country’s development. 

    The LIPI researcher said the country is not just facing the issue of losing potential talents but also on concocting a way that would sway them to contribute to Indonesia wherever they are geographically. She cited the ‘brain circulation’ phenomenon that happened in the United States’ Silicon Valley which involved contributions from 29 percent of engineers from China and India which is what she hopes Indonesia achieves instead of facing a ‘brain drain’ situation where only one country benefits from the scientists’ contribution.

    She also mentioned Taiwan’s Hsinchu Science Industrial Park located in Taipei which is the hub for high technology development in industries ranging from semiconductors, computers, telecommunication, and optoelectronics. Most of the companies established by Taiwanese came from the citizens that spent their academic and professional period in the IT sector in the United States and other developed countries. 

    “This leaves room for the government and domestic private sector to increase the role of the diaspora scientists for Indonesia,” said the LIPI researcher. 

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