Higher education

Indonesian universities and degrees

Higher education

The number of higher education institutions in Indonesia has risen from 10 in 1950 to over 2,000 today. Indonesia is fast becoming a popular destination for international students.

Indonesia’s higher education system is divided into universities, institutions, academies, polytechnics and advanced tertiary schools (Sekolah Tinggi). In turn these are categorized as either private or public. Public institutions have existed for many years whereas the private institutions are relatively new. All higher education institutions are supervised by the Ministry of National Education.

In recent years the Ministry has been overhauling the higher education system to tackle some of its problems. These include limited access for poor families, lack of space in public institutions and a high level of government bureaucracy.

Public institutions

Of the 2,000 higher education institutions, only 30 are public. Public schools offer a wide range of subjects and the education is considered to be of a higher quality than in private institutions. Over half of students who attend a private university go there because of a lack of space in public universities.

Admission into a public university is very competitive, with only 20 percent of students taking the entrance exam being accepted in some years. Private institutions and some public ones administer their own admission tests rather than the standard admission test.

Tuition at a public school is low but varies between institutions. In comparison, tuition fees at a private university can be quite high. It is thought, with the education reforms, the cost of public universities is likely to rise in the future.

The top universities in Indonesia are the Bandung Institute of Technology, Gadjah Mada University and the University of Indonesia. Aside from the top tier of public universities, most other institutions are not considered to be of a western standard.

The University of Indonesia

The oldest university in Indonesia, founded in 1849, it took its current form in 1950. It is considered the best university in the country and came 217 in the QS World University Rankings 2011 . It has two campuses, one in Depok, West Java and another in central Jakarta.

For international students, the University of Indonesia (UI)  has developed several partnerships with foreign universities in order to provide international double degree programmes. These allow the student to graduate with a degree from UI and another from the partner university.

Currently UI has partnerships with the University of Melbourne, the University of Queensland and the University of Amsterdam, among others.

International students

There are over 6,000 foreign students enrolled in higher education in Indonesia. The majority of these come from Malaysia and many are sponsored by the Malaysian government. International students are admitted to full-degree programmes based on their entrance exam scores, in addition they usually have to pass a language exam.

The cost for an international student is around four times higher than that for an Indonesian citizen. The cost for a public university can be around €125 (US$157) per semester. Private universities usually charge more, around €840 (US$1000) per semester. Private institutions also usually charge a one-off development fee for first year students, this can be between €840-€8,400 (US$1000 - $10,000) depending on the university and subject.

There is the opportunity for international students to apply for scholarships from the Indonesian government. For up to date information check the website of the Indonesian embassy in your country.

More Indonesian universities are starting to offer programmes taught all or partly in English. These institutions are mostly to be found in the Jakarta and Surabaya regions. Notable universities that offer undergraduate programs in English include Bina Nusantara University, University of Indonesia, Pelita Harapan University in Jakarta, and University of Surabaya and Widya Mandala Catholic University in Surabaya.

Other options for studying in Indonesia include cultural exchange programmes, language programmes and student exchange programmes. These are available through local and international education organisations.

Types of degree

There are five types of degree awarded in Indonesia:

  • Diploma 3 (D3) Ahli Madya - Equivalent to an associate’s degree
  • Diploma 4 (D4) Sarjana - Equivalent to a bachelor's degree
  • Sarjana 1 (S1) Sarjana - Equivalent to a bachelor’s degree
  • Sarjana 2 (S2) Sarjana - Equivalent to a master’s degree
  • Sarjana 3 (S3) Doktor - Equivalent to a doctoral degree

Further reading

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