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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. It is compulsory for all citizens to commit to 12 years of education, and there are also great international schools across the country for expatriate children.

There are almost 3,000 higher education institutions in Indonesia ' many of which are private universities that are supervised by the Ministry of National Education. There has been a dramatic growth in higher education since Indonesia gained independence in 1945, and approximately 6,000 international students are currently studying in the country. Nine universities in Indonesia are featured in the QS World University Rankings® 2018, and three of these are even in the top 450 of the world's best universities. Furthermore, Indonesia is purportedly intensifying its efforts to enhance the quality of education it delivers to international students as well as its own citizens.

The official language of instruction in Indonesia is Bahasa Indonesia, but many universities are offering more courses in English that are specifically aimed at international students. However, the most common English programmes are at a Master's level at private universities.

Where to study in Indonesia

The four main cities that are great for higher education are Jakarta, Surabaya, Bandung, and Yogyakarta, which form part of the island of Java.

Jakarta is home to many higher education institutions, including Universitas Indonesia, which is the highest-ranked university in the country. The cost of living in the capital may be higher than elsewhere in the country, particularly in terms of rent, but many international students believe that the benefits of living in the 'Big Durian' are worth the extra money.

Alternatively, if the capital isn't your cup of tea, then there are also many good universities in Surabaya, and Universitas Airlangga is considered to be one of the most prestigious in the country. Meanwhile, Bandung has the general feel of a university town, and it is home to the oldest and most well-renowned technical university in the country ' the Institut Teknologi Bandung (ITB).

Often called 'Jogja', Yogyakarta is the smallest of the 'student cities' (in size and population), and while it is more affordable compared to other places in Indonesia, it certainly still prospers thanks to its reputation as a centre of education. It is filled with young foreigners who are mostly exchange students and is home to Universitas Gadjah Mada, as well as many other well-respected universities.

Tuition fees and living costs in Indonesia

Tuition fees are relatively low for both public and private universities in Indonesia and can cost between US$3,000 and US$6,100 per year, depending on the subject (medical degrees are at the upper end of this spectrum).

Although the cost of living in Indonesia varies depending on the city and your lifestyle, it is still considered to be quite low compared to many western nations. Universitas Indonesia recommends that students come with a budget of approximately US$8,600 per year to cover everything from the cost of accommodation, to books and travel expenses. However, depending on your spending habits, you may wish to consider budgeting more than this amount, and you should be aware that living costs in the capital of Jakarta are significantly higher than those in other parts of the country.

Requirements and procedures

Once you have found a course that interests you, you should apply directly to the relevant higher education institution(s). You can expect to pay a fee of around US$50 for each application, and you will likely be required to submit the following documents:

  • Your high school certificate if applying for an undergraduate course, or your degree certificate if planning to continue to a Master's level.
  • Your academic transcript.
  • Proof of English proficiency. If you are not a native English speaker, you may be required to do an IELTS or TOEFL test.

Depending on your selected course, you may need to undergo additional requirements, such as a GRE or GMAT test if you are applying for a Master's in business or economics.

Before you travel to Indonesia, it is important to secure health insurance, and it is a good idea to visit your health professional to check if you need any vaccinations.

Student visa

You will require a sosial/budaya (social/cultural) visa to study in Indonesia, which you should apply for at your nearest Indonesian embassy or consulate once you have been accepted at an Indonesian institution of higher education. It is advisable to give yourself plenty of time for this to be processed before you are due to leave for Indonesia and start your course.

The social/cultural visa initially enables you to stay in Indonesia for 60 days and can be extended once you are in the country when your university will act as your sponsor.

You'll need to pay a small fee to apply for this visa and you should contact your nearest Indonesian embassy for exact and up-to-date information regarding requirements, fees and processes. You can generally expect to be required to submit:

  • 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)

Useful links:

Top Universities
Universitas Gadjah Mada
Universitas Indonesia
Institut Teknologi Bandung
Universitas Airlangga

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.