Indonesia - Country Commercial Guide
Education and Training
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Indonesians Students in the United States


Source: Open Doors 2022

Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous country and third-largest democracy. It is an archipelago comprised of over 17,500 islands and is home to 275.5 million people, 87% of whom identify as Muslims, making it the largest Muslim-majority nation on earth. The population is dominated by a young generation; over 40% of Indonesia’s population is younger than 30 years old. The country’s middle class is growing rapidly and is the biggest in Southeast Asia. Indonesia is the world’s 7th largest economy in terms of purchasing power parity and a member of the G-20.

Indonesia has compulsory education that lasts 12 years and consists of six years at the elementary level and three each at the middle and high school levels. Islamic, Christian, and Catholic schools are under the responsibility of the Ministry of Religious Affairs. Schools in Indonesia are run either by the government (public) or are private schools. In Indonesia, there are approximately 148,000 primary schools, 41,000 junior secondary schools, and 14,000 high schools. Eighty percent of these schools are under the Ministry of Education and Culture and the remaining 20% under the Ministry of Religious Affairs

Australia is the first choice for Indonesians to study abroad, largely due to geographic proximity, perceived institutional quality, and English-language instruction. Around 53,604 Indonesian students were enrolled in Australian educational institutions in 2022. Australia, Malaysia, and the U.S. are the top three destinations for Indonesian students who are studying abroad.

Leading Sub-Sectors

Indonesia is a huge potential market for U.S. providers of secondary, tertiary, and vocational education.  The Indonesian government has made a clear commitment to education and taken steps toward education reforms and greater investment in education in recent years.  Significant increases in government spending have led to real gains in terms of secondary enrollment and the number of higher education students has doubled over the last five years.  This equates to an increase in the number and quality of students seeking post-secondary education opportunities.

During the 2021-2022 academic year, 8,003 students from Indonesia were studying in the U.S. (an increase of 6.9% from the previous year).  Indonesia is the twenty first leading place of origin for foreign students studying in the U.S.  Over 96 percent of all student visas are granted by the U.S. Embassy in Indonesia, and Indonesians studying abroad are either self-funded or by scholarship.  This group of students finances their education privately with financial support from their parents or assistance from overseas relatives.  The remaining of students are financed by local universities, companies, the government, and scholarships through different grants.

There are two types of high schools in Indonesia: SMA (Sekolah Menengah Atas) and SMK (Sekolah Menengah Kejuruan).  SMA students are prepared to continue to higher education, while SMK, as a vocational school, prepares its students to work after finishing their schooling, without moving on to higher education.  There are many international schools in Indonesia.  International schools adopt an international curriculum such as IB (International Baccalaureate) or CIE (Cambridge International Examinations).

Top Five Academic Majors Chosen by Indonesian Students Studying in the U.S.




EngineeringLife SciencesMath & Computer ScienceHealth Professions

Source: Open Doors 2022


A recent survey conducted by a leading Indonesian newspaper shows that most students perceive academic institutions in the U.S. as offering the highest quality education compared to academic institutions in other countries.  The U.S. has consistently been a desired destination for Indonesian students seeking to study overseas.  U.S. universities and community colleges can become more visible in the Indonesian market through participation in education fairs, including the U.S. Department of State’s EducationUSA Fairs, and/or by working with educational consultants. Educational consultants are very popular with prospective Indonesian students and their parents as they serve as “one-stop shops” for applying to schools and provide services such as assisting with visa applications and arranging travel and accommodations.

To compete with other countries which offer lower tuition fees, universities are participating in “1+1”, “1+3”, or “2+2” programs, which enable students to apply credits from their years of study at a local university towards an undergraduate degree at a U.S. university.  Studying at U.S. community colleges has also become an increasingly popular option for Indonesian students. 

Vocational schools have increasingly gained the interest of the Indonesian government.  The Indonesian government is planning to improve the current vocational education system with multiple skill certificates, in which vocational school students can earn certificates after completing training courses in addition to their high school graduation diploma.  In the 2022-2023 educational year, there were approximately 14,265 vocational schools in Indonesia.  In the 2022-2023 educational year, there were about 5 million students in the vocational schools (down 6.28% compared to 5.39 million last year).

The Indonesian government has also invited business leaders to play an expanded role in shaping the curriculum and setting skill standards relevant to the demands of the job market.  These business representatives are expected to provide internship opportunities and on-site training programs for both students and teachers.  There may be opportunities for U.S. vocational schools to partner with Indonesian vocational schools to support the development of curriculum and establish a presence in Indonesia.  In addition, U.S. vocational schools may enjoy increasing appeal as opportunities to gain overseas education and job skills.  Vocational schools offer three-year courses in technology and engineering, health, arts and crafts, tourism, ICT, agro-business and agro-technology, and business management.  In the same academic year, there were about 337,271 teachers in the vocational schools.

The government supports study abroad by Indonesian students through the Indonesia Endowment Fund for Education, abbreviated as LPDP (Lembaga Pengelola Dana Pendidikan), managed by the Ministry of Finance.  LPDP provides full-ride scholarships and short-term exchange programs for all Indonesian citizen in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Culture, Ministry of Religious Affairs, and other government entities. LPDP has a vision to be the best regional fund management institution to prepare future leaders and encourage innovation for a prosperous, democratic, and just Indonesia.  The LPDP service program consists of scholarships, research funding, and fund management (investment). Since 2013, about 29,872 students have been funded by LPDP scholarships. In 2022, the Indonesian government endowed LPDP with about IDR 99.1 trillion. LPDP is looking to expand its offering through cost-sharing programs with international universities, internship programs, and expanded short-term exchanges for students and young professional.

Education Technology

Education technology (Ed Tech) is a growing industry in Indonesia. With a population of 279.5 million people, Indonesia has a large and diverse education market that is ripe for innovation and disruption.

Some of the key players in the Indonesian Ed Tech market include Ruangguru (an interactive e-learning platform for K-12 students), Cakap (a tutoring platform for language learning), Zenius Education (self-learning materials for K12 students), and Quipper (e-learning, coaching, tutoring and assessment services for K12 students) have grown during this time, but overall, the sector is still emerging. The most popular Ed Tech products offer learning management systems for teacher-student collaboration and interactive classroom tools for hosting live teaching sessions, such as G-Suite for Education, Microsoft for Education, Zoom, Google Classroom, among others.

One of the challenges facing Ed Tech in Indonesia is the digital divide. While the country has a high internet penetration (77%) with 167 million social media users in January 2023 and a total of 353.8 million active cellular mobile connections, many people still lack access to reliable internet and devices. Ed Tech is also not accessible to all learners and Indonesia’s education system is not well-equipped for quickly scaling up online learning. Many students in rural areas lack connectivity and many lower-income students lack access to the devices needed to use ed tech tools.

Despite these challenges, the Indonesian Ed Tech market is expected to continue growing in the coming years. It faces bottlenecks that prevent from replicating the level of success seen in other technology sectors and in other countries, but the Government of Indonesia has made a commitment to investing in education and technology, and there is growing demand for high-quality, affordable education solutions.

Supply-side constraints on Ed Tech include:

  • Difficult access to funding.
  • High marginal costs, particularly to acquire and retain new customers.
  • A shortage of qualified talent to develop and maintain products.

 These are coupled with demand-side constraints on Ed Tech, including:

  • A low willingness to pay from schools and parents.
  • A lack of digital literacy, particularly on the part of education providers.
  • Poor digital infrastructure, which limits connectivity in remote regions and slow download speeds across the country.



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