The Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Indonesian Higher Education Internationalisation
: University Leaders’ Views in Three of Indonesian Public Higher Education Legal Entities

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education (EdD)


Indonesian Higher Education (HE) internationalisation was still nascent prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Within their limitation, Indonesian HE internationalisation, must transition online during COVID-19. Indonesian public higher education legal entities (PTN-BH) better represent Indonesian HE internationalisation for their significant number of internationalisation programmes and striving to be a world-class university. However, little is known about the PTN-BH universities' internationalisation prior to and under COVID-19. The aim of this study is to investigate the PTN-BH universities' motivation to internationalise, challenges to internationalise prior to and during COVID-19, internationalisation strategies during COVID-19 and COVID-19's impact on the universities' internationalisation.

A case study of three Indonesian PTN-BH universities is employed to answer the research questions. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with 22 academic leaders. The interviews were conducted online using the Zoom video conference application. Thematic analysis was adopted to analyse data, and the neo-institutional theory of isomorphism was applied as the study's theoretical lens.

The results show that isomorphic pressures were the primary drivers for the universities' internationalisation prior to and during COVID-19. The study supports previous studies indicating the persistent challenges facing Indonesian HE internationalisation prior to COVID-19 and shows that the universities' internationalisation during COVID-19 was more challenging due to poor digital skills, unstable internet connection, time zone differences, and persisting issues. The results suggested that online transitioning could increase the universities' international collaboration, and hybrid was a preferred internationalisation model post-COVID-19.

Nevertheless, the online transition caused a decrease in international student enrolment and mobility programmes and increased staff workload and well-being issues. It was concluded that rethinking the internationalisation of Indonesian HE is necessary post-COVID-19. This research provides a timely study of Indonesian HE internationalisation during COVID-19, and the findings offer insight into the impact of COVID-19 on nascent HE internationalisation in developing economies like Indonesia.
Date of Award7 May 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorRichard P Watermeyer (Supervisor) & Navin Kikabhai (Supervisor)


  • Higher Education
  • Internationalisation of Higher Education during COVID-19
  • Institutional Theory
  • Indonesia

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