Study in Indonesia

Updated 2020-05-21 14:58

The Indonesian education system is the third-largest education system in Asia, with more than 3 million teachers and 50 million students attending 250,000 schools in the primary and secondary sectors. With almost 3,000 higher education institutions in Indonesia, most of which offer international programs, the country has been gaining attention from international students from all around the world.

There has been a dramatic growth in higher education since Indonesia gained independence in 1945. Today, approximately 6,000 international students are currently studying in the country. With dynamic cultures, friendly people, and high-quality education, Indonesia has an exceptional appeal for students looking for a multicultural study abroad experience.

If you’re also interested in studying in Indonesia, read this article to find out how you can enrol in a university in the archipelago.

Why study in Indonesia?

Nine universities in Indonesia are featured in the QS World University Rankings in 2018. Moreover, three of those universities are even in the top 450 of the world's best universities. The Indonesian government is also constantly intensifying its efforts to enhance the quality of education it delivers to international students as well as its own citizens.

Furthermore, dozens of Indonesian universities are developing their own international and immersion programs for international students. While the official language of instruction in Indonesia is Bahasa Indonesia, many universities are currently offering more courses in English at bachelor’s and master’s levels. They also often give free Bahasa Indonesia courses for foreign students and even local ‘buddies’ to help international students make a smoother transition to living and studying in Indonesia. These programs are specifically aimed at international students to make their experience more enjoyable.

Student life in Indonesia


International students in Indonesia have many accommodation options they can choose from to suit their needs and budgets. Some universities offer dorms located near the campus. But note that unlike in many other countries, on-campus dorms can actually be a more expensive choice for students in Jakarta, ranging from $700 to $1,500 per semester.

A more affordable choice for students is called a kost. It’s the Indonesian version of an affordable apartment. Different kost offers various amenities from a fully furnished room and en-suite bathroom to free Wi-Fi and free laundry services. Kost that’s located near the campus with more facilities will cost more than those with fewer facilities and located further away. A kost room can cost anywhere from $75 to $350 per month.


Indonesia is a diverse country with dynamic culinary scenes. Different regions will have different delicious dishes. Don’t forget to try out Indonesia’s famous street food vendors, Padang restaurants, and wartegs. Aside from selling delicious food, they’re also very affordable; you can get a full meal with as little as $1.

Leisure activities

You’ll never get bored while you’re in Indonesia. Depending on where you’re staying there will be a lot of activities to do in your free time. From sports and arts communities to exciting malls and entertainment centres, there are lots of things you can do in Indonesia. Lastly, Indonesia is famous for its natural beauty. If you have the time, why not go on a weekend getaway to beautiful tourist spots?

Also, always remember to bring your student ID card when going out. Restaurants, cafes, bookstores, karaoke places, bowling alleys, and gyms in Indonesia often offer special discounts and deals for students. Also, if you want to have a full cultural experience in Indonesia, don’t forget to visit museums and heritage sites. They offer student discounts too!

Part-time and freelance jobs

Tight on cash? Try getting a part-time or freelance job while you’re studying. International students are allowed to take small jobs here and there as long as they don’t work for more than 20 hours per week. Some universities even offer their students opportunities to work as a lab assistant, research assistant, or a lecturer’s assistant in class. Alternatively, you can also take teaching gigs or open small language classes. Locals will be more than glad to have a foreigner teach their young children English or Mandarin.

Getting a Student Visa in Indonesia

All international students must obtain either a social-cultural visa or a student KITAS in order to study in Indonesia. The visa will be valid for 2 months, 6 months, 12 months, or 24 months, depending on your study program, university, and visa type. To apply for a student visa, contact your nearest Indonesian embassy or consulate once you have been accepted at an Indonesian institution of higher education.

You can generally expect to be required to submit these documents:

  • Your passport, which should be valid for at least six months after your arrival in Indonesia
  • Two recent passport-sized photographs in colour
  • Your completed visa application form
  • Proof that you have sufficient funds to support yourself for the duration of your course
  • A medical certificate to show you're in good health
  • Your letter of acceptance from an Indonesian institution of higher education
  • Proof that all fees have been paid in advance (or proof of a scholarship if applicable)

For more information about how to get a student visa, please contact your Indonesian university of choice and they should be more than glad to help you obtain your visa.

Top Indonesian universities

Indonesia houses hundreds of universities and higher-learning institutions. Some of these institutions are even considered as some of the best in Asia. In Indonesia, you will find two types of university, national universities and private universities.

As an international student, it would be easier to enrol in a private university as their global connections tend to be wider. Enrolling in an Indonesian private university can cost anywhere around IDR 5 million to IDR 15 million ($350 to $1,000) per semester. Meanwhile, getting into a national university tends to be harder since they have stricter tests and requirements, both for local and international students. But, enrolling in national universities is more affordable, costing around IDR 2 million to IDR 7.5 million ($140 to $525) per semester.

National Universities

Universitas Indonesia (UI)

Located in Depok, a city included in Jakarta’s metropolitan area, Universitas Indonesia is one of the best and oldest universities in Indonesia. UI offers a variety of medicine, natural science, technology, economics, social science, politics, and humanity programs as well as other vocational programs such as art, music, culture, and language.

UI employs top-rated lecturers and gives out fantastic courses and classes, making it one of the most prestigious universities in Indonesia. Studying in UI will give you an incredible, comprehensive, and multicultural study abroad experience.

Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM)

Universitas Gadjah Mada is located in the cultural centre of Java, Yogyakarta. Much like UI, UGM is another old and prestigious university in Indonesia. Offering fantastic courses in various programs, such as medicine, technology, natural science, political science, and economics, this university is considered the third best university in Southeast Asia.

Universitas Airlangga (Unair)

Universitas Airlangga is located in Surabaya, and it’s known for being the second oldest university in Indonesia. Today, it’s considered one of the best education and research centre in Indonesia.

Unair offers various programs, including medicine, law, business, economics, science, technology, and humanities. Aside from that, it also offers vocational programs, including accounting, tourism, language, and many more. Unair is well-known across the world as it has multiple university partners around the globe.

Private Universities

Bina Nusantara University (Binus)

Bina Nusantara University is famous for being Indonesia’s only private university to be featured in the list of the top 500 universities in the world. Binus has several locations as of 2020, including the three main campuses in West Jakarta, Alam Sutera, Bekasi, Bandung, and Malang.

This university is well-known for its world-class computer science and information system programs. However, its business, economics, hospitality, political science, and language programs also deserve recognition. Binus is known to be very accepting toward international students, offering comprehensive student exchange programs and partnering with numerous top-rated universities from all around the world.

Atma Jaya Catholic University of Indonesia

Atma Jaya University also has several campuses, located in West Jakarta, North Jakarta, and Tangerang. This university is well-known for its great medicine and economics program. Aside from that, they also offer accounting, law, finance, technology, and language programs.

While Atma Jaya is not a popular option among international students, it offers great international courses. They even offer free Indonesian language classes for exchange and international students to ensure a smooth transition to living and studying in Indonesia.

Universitas Surabaya (Ubaya)

Located in Surabaya, Universitas Surabaya is considered one of the top private universities in Indonesia according to the Ministry of Higher Education. Ubaya offers various bachelor programs, natural science, psychology, technology, medicine, political science, and economics as well as vocational programs.

Ubaya offers a wonderful and multicultural study experience for international students. The university has a program called International Village. It is a concept that brings together various international educational and cultural centres under one roof, for students and the general public. Through this project, Ubaya aims to support the development of friendship and mutual understanding of different nations and cultures.

Parahyangan Catholic University (Unpar)

Parahyangan Catholic University is one of the oldest private universities in Indonesia. Located in Bandung, this university has been attracting thousands of students each year, locals and foreigners alike. The Ministry of Higher Education considers this university as one of the top education institutions in Indonesia.

It offers various programs, including philosophy, law, economics, accounting, political science, technology, and natural science. This university is rather famous among international students due to its various exchange programs, including Intercultural Learning and Global Engagement (ILGE), Immersion Program, and International Student Conference (ISC).

 Useful link:

Applying for a student visa
Studying in Indonesia
Info Kost (Only available in Bahasa Indonesia)
Mami Kos (Only available in Bahasa Indonesia)
Studentjob Indonesia (Only available in Bahasa Indonesia)

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.