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Personal experience and a love of research drives this Crawford graduate

09 July 2024

Passion is important when you are working on challenging ventures. Elghafiky Bimardhika has a passion for spades. Fiky’s Master of International and Development Economics (MIDEC) degree allowed him to explore his love of research and learn how to become an applied microeconomist who utilizes the most up-to-date empirical tools in economics to answer social science questions.

Fiky grew up in Indonesia and worked in Jakarta as a Research Manager at J-PAL Southeast Asia before starting his degree at Crawford.

He mentions three main areas he enjoys researching: labour issues, urban transportation, and child welfare. He claims the reasons, while personal, are nothing fancy, but we disagree.

He says, “I am interested in labour topics because I am a labourer, a worker. I think we all have rights that need to be upheld and protected. Researching labour issues is just my small contribution to the larger effort to improve the lives of many workers.”

Fiky’s interest in urban transportation stems from his daily experience of commuting to work and moving around the city in urban transportation. He says he wants to see good public transportation in Jakarta and its surroundings, so more people are willing to take public transport.

But when it comes to child welfare, the desire to make the world a better place is far more personal. “I am interested in child welfare because I am a father. Everything I do is driven by the quest to make sure my son grows up to live a fulfilling life. Again, researching child welfare is my small contribution to the larger effort to chart a brighter future for the next generation.”

Bringing these interests to Crawford, he said the Master of International and Development Economics allowed him to learn skills that would help in all these aspects. However, there is no sugarcoating. Fiky says the degree is challenging, but it was still one of the best experiences of his life.

He said in the first year, it’s easy to get bogged down in mathematics and question why you need to understand it in relation to economics models. However, that knowledge is used in future courses when you find out that failure to grasp all the information can lead to the wrong conclusions.

“I appreciate Econometric Techniques IDEC8017 because it forced us to confront the basics and not let us run away directly to some high-level stuff before completely grasping the foundations,” he said.

Fiky says one of the unique and appealing features of the MIDEC degree is how it balances the mathematical elements with the ability to communicate those through the written word.

He also notes the depth of the coursework, highlighting two guest lectures. One was delivered by Professor Jack Pezzey on sustainability and another by Professor Quentin Grafton on water economics. Fiky mentions that both lectures influenced his daily habits, such as opting to wear more layers at home during cold winters instead of running his heater and using his electric blanket sporadically. “I might not be able to do much to stall climate change and the looming energy crisis, but at least I’m doing something in the best way I can,” he added.

When it came to Professor John McCarthy’s EMDV8082 Food Wars course, he said the knowledge he gained made him change his consumption of ultra-processed foods and sugar.

Now not everyone will go to the same measures, but Fiky has some helpful advice for anyone considering an Economics degree at Crawford he has these four pieces of advice:

  1. Invest time in practising your math. If you don’t feel confident, don’t just do the exercises given in the lecture or tutorial, explore exercises from supplementary books and other sources. It is true that economics isn’t all about math, but a healthy dose of math helps you grasp economics concepts more firmly. I was struggling and overwhelmed with math as well when I started. Probably 90% of the class as well. Don’t back down and soldier through!

  2. Hone your writing skills. Take advice and utilize resources from Crawford’s academic skills seriously. It will be beneficial for you even beyond your study. If you can handle math and writing, I guarantee you’ll nail any IDEC courses in Crawford.

  3. Ask questions! Be it to your teacher, your tutor, your friends, your senior, etc. Don’t think you must rely on yourself alone for everything, especially being an international student. Don’t let yourself be stuck alone for days. I can guarantee it’s not going to turn out well for you.

  4. Always seek professional help with your mental health before it’s too late! ANU provides that support.

As for one of his biggest takeaways from the degree overall, Fiky says “I think we need to focus more on building state capacity in executing policies and programs. We’ve heard a lot about evidence-based policymaking, but little attention has been given to the capacity to deliver evidence-supported policies and programs.”

He emphasizes the need for increased focus on implementation research, noting that funding for researchers, particularly in many developing countries, primarily relies on donor grants which are not unlimited. As a result, there have been numerous instances in both developing and developed countries where programs that were initially deemed beneficial did not achieve the expected impact when implemented on a larger scale.

What’s next for Fiky? He’s planning a PhD, and in the meantime is looking at having a few of his research papers published.

Congratulations on graduating, Fiky! From all of us here at Crawford, we can’t wait to see you accomplish your goals.

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Updated:  23 July 2024/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team