MDes Talks: My Masters Study in Hong Kong and Indonesia’s National Scholarship

The next chapter in my life has just begun, I am now pursuing my master’s degree in International Design & Business Management in the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Being in a new city and living far from home while facing a different language and a different culture each day, all these things seem as scary and as extraordinarily exciting. I arrived Hong Kong 4 weeks ago and have already tasted a little bit of the Hong Kong experience – I cannot wait to have more in the next 12 months. But first, let me tell you how I got here.

Material centre in my hometown Bandung where I used to source materials for product explorations in my early days as a physical product designer.

Why Hong Kong?

Offering One of The Best Education in Asia
The Hong Kong PolyU School of Design is ranked the Best Design School in Asia (QS Ranking 2016) and generally, the universities in Hong Kong are ranked among the best universities (top 1%) in the world.

Its Relevancy to South East Asia
For me to apply my learning back home is very important, that is why I feel that what I learn about the rise of the Asian economy can resonate well in South East Asia’s emerging markets.

As a Global Melting Pot
Hong Kong is a place where the progressive approach from the west meets the deep culture from the east. So it is an ideal place to get the best of both worlds and to strive for a balanced cross-cultural experience.

As One of the Most Liveable Cities
Hong Kong is one of the best cities in the world to live, thanks to its effective public transportation, rich food culture, vast retail experience and more importantly how the urban environments in Hong Kong are well designed by many of the big names in city architecture and urban planning.

How to Pursue Your Study and Finance It?

Postgraduate studies are relatively expensive and they are considered tertiary education especially in Indonesia. Therefore not many people have the chance to continue their studies in higher education. The access to academic advancement has recently been improved with LPDP (Lembaga Pengelola Dana Pendidikan) Scholarship launched in 2013.

The view of my commute in Jakarta when I worked as a digital product designer for a tech company.

Even though I knew the areas that I have wanted to develop in my master’s education lie in the multidisciplinary skills and knowledge integrating business, design and technology, I did not know initially which programme and which university may be suitable for achieving my goals. Then, from LPDP’s list of universities, I first encountered The Hong Kong PolyU School of Design. LPDP is one of the best scholarships in the country in terms of its coverage and system – it covers many aspects of educational funding and also provides options to many top universities in the world, including The Hong Kong PolyU School of Design that named the Best Design School in Asia (QS Ranking 2016).

The whole application is to be completed online via and there are certain conditions to be met for applications to be considered, which are:

  • Applicants must be an Indonesian citizen
  • Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 3.00
  • Applicants must apply to a recognised university by LPDP
  • Applicants must have a minimum IELTS score of 6.5
  • Applicants must obtain a recommendation letter from an academic or a professional mentor
  • Applicants must have a declaration of good health condition

The scholarship covers both main and supporting costs of the study. The funding components include:

Education Costs Supporting Costs
Application Fee (at cost) Transport Expenses (return flight tickets
Tuition Fees (at cost) Visa Application Fee (at cost)
Book Allowance (IDR 10 million) Insurance Premium (up to IDR 29 million)
Research Allowance (at cost) Living Allowance (HKD 10,000 monthly for a 12-month study period)
Graduation Cost (at cost) Settlement Allowance (HKD 20,000 on arrival)

To apply for the scholarship (master’s degree) in LPDP, you’re not required to have an ‘unconditional’ Notice of Offer from the university in the first place. So you can apply for the scholarship first and apply to the university later with the supporting letter from LPDP. I already got the scholarship in 2017 and planned to start the study in 2018 and it was why I had tried to apply to PolyU before, but at that time, LPDP could only send their scholarship awardees (batch 2017) to start their study in 2019 due to several unforeseeable financing reasons. As a result, I applied again to PolyU in 2018, for 2019 entry. Despite the unexpected delay, I feel very fortunate that I got the time to prepare for a better application and at the same time I managed to get valuable working experience during that 1-year period of waiting. Now I am prepared with more life experience and ready to pursue my master’s degree abroad for the next 12 months.

For more comprehensive document requirements of the scholarship, you can refer to the website ( and feel free to contact me if you have further questions. I am happy to share my first-hand experience of this journey so far.

All images by author.

This blog post is written by Steven Kurniadi, a current student in the International Design and Business Management (MDes) programme. Steven came from Bandung, Indonesia.

MDes Talks is a series of blog posts produced by the student media team for prospective students who are considering graduate education in design. The student authors write on what it is like and what it means – to be a student (again), to live in an unfamiliar culture, to meet new people, to study in a different education system, and to broaden horizons. Prospective students are welcome to connect with our student authors to learn more.