Studying in Bali

university students
Updated 2022-09-20 23:02

Even if Bali is renowned as a major tourist destination, the island is by no means limited to its idyllic beaches, charming culture and the hospitality of its residents. Did you know that the island attracts many international students every year? In fact, some of the Balinese universities are among the most popular in the Southeast Asian region.

In broad terms, education in Indonesia has been one of the most neglected sectors of the country's economic progress over the past few decades. The Indonesian education system is considered to be based more on the number of graduating students rather than on the quality of teaching. As such, the country has been struggling to catch up with other countries in the region, like Malaysia, which is by far a regional leader in terms of education.

However, the Indonesian archipelago is still home to some top-notch universities, located mainly in the vicinity of Jakarta and Bali, which are the two most important places of residence for expatriates in Indonesia. Bali, in this case, hosts a rather impressive number of universities for its relatively small geographical area. There are no less than 14 universities in Bali, spread over an area of just over 5,000 km 2 .

Out of an estimated 6,000 international students attending universities in Indonesia, a fair share have chosen to study in Bali. Whereas it is generally thought that most of the Balinese universities offer average quality education, the island also boasts a few universities that rate among the best in Indonesia. In fact, many of these international students usually opt for Bali as part of university exchange programs, mostly to experience the charms of the Balinese lifestyle.

Unfortunately, no statistics are available about the number of international students in Bali, but one can assume that there are at least several hundred students who attend Balinese universities each year. This is because Bali remains a popular destination for many overseas students participating in university exchange programs. Several Australian universities have signed such programs with Balinese universities, allowing students to spend a semester or more in Bali.

Higher education in Bali

Studying abroad is one of those experiences that leave a lifelong impression on young adults. It is an opportunity for them to get acquainted with a foreign culture, broaden their horizons, and become more open-minded while building an international network that can be useful for their future careers. 

Local universities offer several English-speaking curricula for international students wishing to study in Bali via student exchange programs for a semester or more. Not only do they provide for direct immersion in the Balinese culture and way of life, but they also allow the credits thus generated to be easily reclaimed by the students' home university.

Even though the number of universities and study programs available on the island may appear extensive, very few Balinese universities are reputed to offer solid academic programs. Of those that are open to foreigners, many are quite lax, seeking primarily to attract international students by selling Bali's lazy lifestyle rather than the expected rigor and quality of university

courses. This seems to fall totally in line with the fact that there are very few international students who come to the island only to study!

Which are the best universities in Bali?

There are around 15 universities in the Bali region, and at least 4 of them offer courses that are open to international students. Most of the Balinese universities are located around Denpasar, the capital city in the south of the Balinese province. In that same vein, Denpasar can be regarded as the student capital of Bali, but this title could also go to Kuta, where bars and discos are among the favorite hangouts of international students in Bali.

To be fair, it should be mentioned that studying in Bali is not only about fun and wild parties. Several Balinese universities offer excellent international courses, as well as high-quality traditional courses.

The cost of a year's study in Bali ranges from 3,000 to 6,000 euros per year, on average. However, you should be aware that courses offered to international students are usually more expensive than the normal Indonesian curriculum. On top of that, you need to budget for daily living expenses (accommodation, food, entertainment), which are generally affordable. You should expect to pay around US$600-700 per month to live comfortably in Bali.

The best universities on the island are, without a doubt:

  • Udayana University

Established in 1962, Udaya University is the largest and most prestigious university in Bali and the only state-owned university in Indonesia. The institution hosts no less than 13 departments, ranging from medicine to law, through agroforestry.

Udayana University offers a specially tailored curriculum for international students. The courses range from undergraduate to postgraduate and doctorate. The institution also offers short-term summer courses and business, economics, marketing, law, tourism, communication, culture and language are the major subjects taught there.

University fees range from EUR 3,999 for summer courses to EUR 1,990 per semester for undergraduate programs. For more detailed information, check the conditions and requirements on the university's official website, GoBali. You will also find out more about services for international students as well as the admission process, details on housing, insurance, and transportation for newcomers wishing to study in Bali.

  • Universitas Pendidikan Ganesha

This university, established through a public-private partnership agreement, is also known as the Ganesha University of Education. It is well known on the island and is among the best private universities in the region of Bali, West Nusa Tenggara and East Nusa Tenggara. It has 8 departments and about 20 undergraduate and graduate programs. International students can study at UNDIKNAS as part of their international business, management and accounting

program. They can choose to study for 1 or 2 semesters, but they can also choose to obtain a three- or four-year degree. The courses offered range from Bachelor's to Master's degrees, but not beyond. University fees start at EUR 1,650 per semester, depending on the chosen diploma.

As a matter of interest, please note that this school was previously called Pendidikan Nasional Bali, and was recently renamed in honor of the Hindu god Ganesh. In Bali, where the Hindu religion is strongly established, it is indeed quite customary to place a school under the protection of a Hindu god or goddess.

  • University of Warmadewa

The University of Warmadewa, yet another private university, is renowned for its international bachelor's or master's degree program in Indonesian  language and culture, business, economic management, strategic management, tourism, politics, environmental sustainability, entrepreneurship and management. Fees start at EUR 1,650 per semester, and courses are generally of good quality. Warmadewa is among the most popular local universities for international students. This is undoubtedly due to its high admission rate, which sits at around 78%.

  • Triatma Mulya Stenden University

This private university is an ideal choice if you want to do a full course of study in Bali. It is a joint initiative between the Triatma Mulya Universities in Bali and the University of Applied Sciences in Stenden, the Netherlands. The Bali campus offers two Dutch bachelo's degree courses in business administration and international hospitality management, taught in English by lecturers from around the world. As the university's website states, Dutch education is considered one of the best in the world.

Thanks to such a partnership, students can undertake their studies in Bali with the possibility of expatriation for a year in the Netherlands. The cost per semester is approximately 3,850 euros. The curriculum also includes personal coaching and a career development program. Triatma Mulyan Stenden University certainly offers some of the most professional academic programs available on the island of Bali..

Attending this institution is a good option for foreigners who want to stay on the island for a longer period of time Furthermore, considering that most of the lectures are held 3 or 4 days a week, this leaves time to travel and explore the country and going to the neighboring islands of

Lombok, Gili or Java, which are easily accessible by boat. And why not go further into the Asia-Pacific region if you have the opportunity? With countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam or Thailand all within reach, you may well have the opportunity to treat yourself to fantastic trips at very affordable prices.

  • Seni Indonesia Institute Denpasar

Located in the Denpasar vicinity, like most of Bali's academic institutions, the Seni Indonesia Denpasar Institute is known throughout Indonesia, and more especially for its art department. Commonly referred to as ISI Denpasar, the institution offers several academic art programs that range from painting to film, through sculpture, photography, dance, and more. The courses are relatively light and allow exchange students to study in a relaxed mode and enjoy the many activities throughout the island.

While famous for its art department, ISI Denpasar also offers several other interesting streams and opportunities for international students in Bali, such as languages, literature, engineering, and sciences, to name a few. In addition, the atmosphere on campus is said to be bohemian and rather open, which is quite unusual in Bali, an island where most people are quite conservative.

  • Mahasaraswati University Denpasar

Like several other Balinese universities, Mahasaraswati University Denpasar owes its name to a Hindu deity: Saraswati, the goddess of education, creativity and music, with the prefix "maha" or "maa" meaning "mother". Founded in 1982, this private institution has 8 departments and, as says its name, is located in Denpasar. Even if the name of the goddess of creativity and music may suggest it, Mahasaraswati University is less renowned for its artistic curriculum than its neighbor, ISI Denpasar. Nevertheless, the institution remains of solid value in the Balinese university landscape, being among the oldest and most respected tertiary institutions on the island.

Student life in Bali

Best known as a tourist destination rather than a place of learning, Bali can be tricky for many students. With its natural beauty, its population of young expatriates, surfers and tourists, not to mention the numerous bars, restaurants and discotheques, the island has enough distractions that can draw the most studious students out into a frenzy of parties and activities other than those for which they are here.

In fact, few international students come to Bali solely to study. Many local universities have taken this into account and have made special arrangements in their programs for expatriates so that they can enjoy the island during their free time. Many local institutions organize meet-up days for foreign and/or Balinese students, often in a paradisiacal place. You can visit if you want to learn more about these events and attend some of them. Most of the student days on the island open to expatriates are indicated there.


Be sure to learn how to study and have fun at the same time while taking advantage of the adapted programs offered by Balinese universities to enjoy the island of the Gods to the fullest!

Covid-19 and higher studies in Bali

As the Covid-19 epidemic in Indonesia has been on the decline since early 2022, the country has undertaken to reopen its borders in phases. However, there are still some small peculiarities in Bali, especially in terms of education. At the time of updating this article, university courses are still not delivered face-to-face and are conducted online via video conferencing. The system seems to work well in Bali, and courses are still held more or less normally if we believe what local university officials say.

Useful links:

Udayana University

Pendidikan Ganesha University

Seni Indonesia Denpasar Institute

Warmadewa University

Mahasaraswati University

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.