A guide to studying abroad for students from Indonesia

By StudyLink

Image of the Indonesian flag flying on a flagpole

This article is a guide for students currently in Indonesia looking to study abroad. Please see our Indonesia directory if you are interested in studying in Indonesia.

Indonesia’s increasingly youthful population and the country’s economic growth have meant more and more Indonesian students are applying to foreign universities every year.

Since 2014, the number of Indonesian students abroad has grown by nearly 21%! Today, nearly 60,000 Indonesian students are enrolled at universities all over the world. This means that, as an Indonesian student thinking of applying to foreign universities, you will find it a lot easier to apply to universities abroad than you would have ten or twenty years ago.

But the fact is that foreign university applications can still be a tricky process. Identifying the best possible scholarships, correctly applying for student visa applications to different countries and preparing all of the required documents for your applications can often become confusing. And possible delays to your university and visa applications can mean you may miss out on the right universities for you.

This is why as an Indonesian student applying to universities abroad, it is important that you read our step-by-step discussion of the entire foreign university and visa application journey for Indonesian students.

Top International Study Destinations for Indonesian Students

Indonesian students today are applying to a variety of countries abroad, from established university destinations like the USA and UK, as well as newer study destinations such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Below are the countries where universities receive the most applications from Indonesian students:

Australia

Australia is by far the most popular study abroad destination for Indonesian students as of today. Nearly 14,000 Indonesian students are currently enrolled at Australian universities, almost twice as much as the second-most popular study destination.

Australia offers world-class urban environments, excellent public infrastructure, world-leading employment opportunities, attractive post-graduation employment visas and an endless list of scenic spots and seaside attractions all over the country. Tuition fees vary between 20,000 and 45,000 US Dollars per year for degree programmes in Australia.

Living expenses, meanwhile, average between 950-1,350 US Dollars per month in major Australian cities such as Melbourne and Sydney. Macquarie University, the University of New South Wales and the University of Sydney are some of the popular choices for Indonesian students in Australia.

Find out more about Studying in Australia.

Malaysia

With nearly 8,500 Indonesian students, Malaysia is the second-largest destination of Indonesians studying abroad. The fact that Malaysia is located right next to Indonesia means that it has easy visa access for Indonesians, and the country is also home to a sizable Indonesian immigrant community.

Several Malaysian institutes offer you the chance to complete a UK-based university engineering degree while studying in Malaysia, through the 3+0 foreign university franchised degree programme.

Malaysia also offers excellent value for money as a study destination and is by far the cheapest popular country to study abroad for Indonesian students. You can complete a degree in Malaysia for a combined tuition and living cost of under 10,000 US Dollars per year, less than a third of what you would pay for similar degree programmes in the UK or USA.

The University of Malaya, Putra Malaysia University and the Petronas Technology University are some of the popular university destinations for Indonesian students in Malaysia.

Find out more about Studying in Malaysia.

United States of America

The USA is home to nearly 8,000 Indonesian students pursuing a wide range of degree programmes. The USA is becoming an increasingly expensive study and living destination, but contains more than 350 of the world’s top universities according to QS World University Rankings.

USA student visa rules allow Indonesian students to work 20 hours every week during the semester and full-time during academic breaks, and part-time employment and internships are a popular way for international students to offset many of the expensive costs of life in America.

Living expenses in major cities such as Chicago and San Francisco can often reach 1,600-1,800 US Dollars per month, while in university towns and rural campuses you should budget between 900-1,200 US Dollars per month. Tuition fees can range from 10,000 to 55,000 US Dollars per annum, depending on whether the university of your choice is a public or private institute.

Northeastern University, UC San Diego, and Carnegie Mellon University are some of the popular study destinations for Indonesian students in the USA.

Find out more about Studying in the USA.

Japan

Japan hosts nearly 5,000 Indonesian students in its universities every year. Japan’s high living standards, excellent public safety, closeness to Indonesia and world-class employment opportunities are some of the major reasons why so many Indonesians pursue a Japanese degree.

Japanese public universities charge about 6,500-7,000 US Dollars per year as tuition fees. Living expenses are also reasonably affordable in Japan when compared to western countries, and range between 550-750 US Dollars per month on average.

Popular university destinations in Japan for Indonesian students include Kyoto University, Nagoya University and Osaka University.

Find out more about Studying in Japan.

United Kingdom

Just as is the case with the United States, the United Kingdom remains a very popular destination for Indonesians studying abroad despite expensive living costs and tuition fees.

Today, nearly 4,000 Indonesian students are enrolled at UK universities. The United Kingdom’s educational infrastructure and centuries of experience in world-class education, alongside the country’s sizable Indonesian community and overall immigrant-friendly environment are all big attractions for Indonesian students.

Tuition fees in UK universities range between 15,000-25,000 US Dollars per year, but can be higher for specialised degrees in medicine, law and other fields. Living expenses in London, meanwhile, can be around 1,400-1,600 US Dollars per month. But in most other British cities and small towns, a budget of 800-1,100 US Dollars per month will be enough for Indonesian students.

Popular universities for Indonesian students in the UK include King’s College London, University College London and the University of Kent.

Find out more about Studying in the UK.

Most Popular Courses Amongst Indonesian Students

Indonesian students usually apply for a wide variety of courses to study abroad, from mainstream degree programmes such as civil engineering and economics to more specialised degree programmes such as agriculture and the fine arts. A majority of Indonesian students apply for postgraduate degrees abroad, followed by undergraduate applicants.

A few of the most popular undergraduate courses pursued by Indonesian students abroad are:

Meanwhile, below are the most popular Master’s degrees pursued by Indonesian students abroad:

For more information about the different subjects available to international students, see our Subjects directory.

How to Study Abroad from Indonesia

Every university abroad has a specific list of application requirements for Indonesian students, and you should conduct thorough research on each university you are considering applying to.

Of course, there still are plenty of general requirements which you should make sure to complete as a basic checklist for studying abroad as an Indonesian. For example, on Indonesia’s most common exam scoring system of 100 points, you should be targeting a minimum score of 80 percent. This is because a minimum US GPA score of 3.0, which translates to roughly 75-80% in Indonesia’s scoring system, is required for successfully applying to most universities abroad.

Below are a few additional required documents you should keep in mind for an applications checklist:

  • Language Proficiency Certificate: A minimum TOEFL score of 80-85 and IELTS score of 6.0-6.5. Certain countries may require a different language test, such as France which requires Def/Dalf
  • International Passport with validity until the end of your planned degree 
  • At Least Two Recommendation Letters: Can be academic or professional
  • Bank Statements
  • Birth Certificate
  • WAEC/SSCE Exam Results
  • A Valid Student Visa for the Foreign Country
  • Secondary School Transcript or University Transcript
  • Healthcare Documents such as Insurance etc.

The Student Visa Process

The student visa process for Indonesian students depends on the country you are applying to. For studying in Malaysia, you are required to obtain a document named the student pass from your nearest Malaysian embassy. This document is valid for a year and must be renewed at least 45 days before expiry. In Japan, you are granted a student visa valid for a year which can be renewed for up to 2 more years.

We suggest immediately beginning the student visa process from the moment you receive an enrolment offer from your preferred foreign university because in many countries, student visa applications have been delayed by large amounts of time due to post-covid restrictions. We also suggest that you research and apply for all relevant loans and funding programmes well in advance in case you require financial assistance for studying abroad from Indonesia.

For more information about student visas, see our International Study Visas article.

Fees and Funding Information

Germany and Norway offer tuition-free degrees at public universities for Indonesian students, and you should consider these countries if you require scholarships or financial assistance.

Popular large-scale scholarship programmes for Indonesians studying abroad include the LPDP (Lembaga Pengelola Dana Pendidikan) scholarship programme from the Indonesian Ministry of Finance, the Australian National University Scholarships for South Asia and the RMIT STEM Scholarships for South Asia.

Study loans are another popular method for meeting financial needs while studying abroad. Study loan applications requirements depend on the bank or lender, with most banks requiring collateral or a co-signer who can guarantee that you will return the loan amount. Moreover, some banks may only give you a student loan for studying abroad in a specific country or set of countries. It is essential that you begin applications early and have a clear idea of when the deadlines for college applications and student visas are for each country you are interested in studying abroad as an Indonesian student.

For more information about tuition fees and scholarships, see our Funding and Scholarships for International Students.

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