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Over 1,000 Indonesian students may have fallen prey to bogus internships in Germany

Some 1,047 students from 33 universities across Indonesia are suspected to have fallen victim to the scam, Indonesia’s national police said last week.

Two Indonesia-based recruitment agencies and two German ones were said to have promised easy, high-paying jobs to students through a three-month internship programme in Germany called ferien jobs, which could later be converted into 20 credits for the students.

The agencies claimed the ferien job scheme was part of the Indonesian education ministry’s Independent Learning Independent Campus programme, or MBKM, which allows university students to take courses and carry out activities outside their studies for two semesters. The education ministry confirmed in October that the internship was not part of the MBKM programme.

“Students are employed non-procedurally, resulting in being exploited,” Brigadier General Djuhandhani Rahardjo Puro, director of the general crimes unit at the Indonesian national police, told reporters on March 20.

Police have named five suspects in the case, including an economics professor at the University of Jambi on Sumatra island, whose 87 students were allegedly scammed by the programme.

Hadi Tjahjanto, coordinating minister for political, legal, and security affairs, said on Wednesday he would form a “special team” to investigate the bogus internship, adding he had urged universities to resolve the problem.

“If I could turn back time, maybe I wouldn’t go [to Germany],” said Budi, one of the victims from the University of Jambi who spoke to This Week in Asia under the condition of anonymity.

From mid-October to the end of December, Budi worked in an international cargo company’s freight facility in Bremen, where he was paid €13 per hour. His main job was