About Indonesia

About the U.S. | About Indonesia


With a population of over 240 million, Indonesia has over 4.7 million students in 92 public and over 3,000 private higher education institutions. The gross enrollment rate for Indonesia is approximately 25%. Indonesia also hosts over 8,000 international students and sends over 84,000 Indonesians for study abroad each year.

The System

The system of higher education in Indonesia consists of universities, institutes, academies, and polytechnics in both the public and private sectors. Universities house a comprehensive set of disciplines with multiple faculties while institutes offers a single field of discipline, such as agriculture. Academies and polytechnics are vocational institutions that provide professional skills and diploma degrees. While academies focus on the sciences and humanities, polytechnics focus on engineering and related science. Most of Indonesian higher education institutions are managed either by the Ministry of National Education (MONE) through the Directorate General of Higher Education or by the Ministry of Religious Affairs in the case of Islamic institutions.

Recent Reforms

In 2003, the Indonesian government undertook reforms and introduced the Higher Education Long Term Strategy 2003-2010 (HELTS). The reforms to higher education were introduced as part of a broader effort to address issues related to macroeconomic management, financial sector reform, and poverty reduction. The main objective of the HELTS was to improve the quality of higher education in order to develop higher-level skills to attract investment in the economy and facilitate the adoption and adaptation of new technologies. The HELTS decentralized public HEIs, giving institutions greater autonomy, and changed public expenditure for higher education into a combination of block grants, competitive grants, and performance-based grants.

Quality Assurance

The Indonesian higher education sector has both internal and external accreditation systems. The internal accreditation was introduced at some prestigious universities in the late 1990s for the purpose of continuously improving quality. The external accreditation is conducted by the National Accreditation Board for Higher Education. Through the external accreditation process, undergraduate and diploma programs are categorized into four levels from A (satisfactory) to D (unsatisfactory) while postgraduate programs are categorized into three levels: U (excellent), B (good), and T (fair).

Public versus Private and Access Issues

Admission to public universities is based on a centralized examination system and is highly competitive. Admitted students generally come from high quality secondary schools and also tend to have received special training in a “private study centre.” For the most part the best secondary schools are located in urban areas. The students who receive the additional training, furthermore, come primarily from middle and high income families. Based on one survey, only 3.3% of students from the bottom 20% of income groups successfully passed the test while 30.9% of students from the highest income quintile passed. In contrast, private institutions tend to house students from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

After the HELTS reforms, which transformed some of the public universities into separate legal entities, some universities have developed their own independent admission examination and process. This has included, in some cases, an admission fee.

Future challenges

Ongoing significant issues facing Indonesian higher education include:

  • meeting the growing demand for high quality higher education,
  • addressing the challenges of increasing equity and access,
  • improving the governance of institutions and reducing internal inefficiencies,
  • augmenting funding for universities, and
  • increasing the relevance of higher education to Indonesia’s current labor market needs. 

Types of HEIs in Indonesia:

Academy – a college that offers professional education programs

Polytechnic – a college that offers vocational education programs

University – a college that offers both academic as well as selected professional and vocational fields of study

Academies, Universities, and Polytechnics offer differing degree options. Academies may only offer DI and DII diplomas while polytechnics have more options for students to choose from. DI, or Diploma Program I, is awarded to students who have completed between 40 – 50 credits of professional education. Such programs length is typically between 2 to 4 semesters that follow after high school. The DII diploma is awarded to students who have completed between 80 – 90 credits of professional education over the course of 4 to 6 semesters. Diploma Program III, also referred to as D III, requires an academic load ranging between 110 and 120 credits over a 6 semester span of study. Diploma Program IV, known also as IV, mandate a study load of 144 to 160 credits over eight semesters. Degree programs, frequently referred to as S1 programs, are similar to Diploma Program IV in that they feature 144 to 160 credits in eight semesters; however these programs of study are available only at Universities.