Suwarsih Madya was born in Sleman, the Special Territory of Yogyakarta, Indonesia. She completed her bachelor degree in TEFL in 1974 and master degree in 1976 both in the Faculty of Literature and Arts Teacher Education, the Yogyakarta Institute of Teacher Education and Educational Science. In the following year (1977), she was appointed as a faculty member in this Institute, which was converted into Yogyakarta State University (YSU) in 1999, in which her Faculty was also renamed into Faculty of Languages and Arts. It is in this Faculty that she has enjoyed teaching student teachers of English.
Pursuing a higher degree, she commenced her second Master’s degree program at Macquarie University Australia in 1981 and completed in 1983, focusing on foreign language teacher development. One year later, she returned to Macquarie University to do her Ph.D. program and completed in 1988, still focusing on the same area since she believes strongly in the crucial role of teachers in the whole business of education. It was the curriculum at Macquarie University that gave her ample opportunity to acquire further knowledge of language, learning, language learning, teaching and education from both theoretical and practical perspectives. She deepened her insights into language teacher education through courses such as curriculum development, teacher education, and educational technology with substantial emphasis being determined by individual students according to their academic background, combining lectures, seminars, and semi-structures field (school) observations followed by analytical and reflective reports. All of this later facilitated her involvement in the national project of secondary school English curriculum development in Indonesia (199-1994).
Her insights into educational crucial issues were enhanced through a number of positions she assumed. She was seconded to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to assume a position as an Attaché of Education and Culture at the Indonesian Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand from 1995-1999. Returning back from Thailand, she was appointed as the Assistant Director of the Postgraduate College at YSU from 2000 to 2003, but before her term finished, she was assigned by the Ministry of National Education as the Head of the Bureau for Foreign Cooperation and Public Relations (2003-2005). This position made it easier for her to carry out her role as a member of the Governing Board of the UNESCO Institute of Education, Humburg, Germany (2001-2004) in which she was involved in extensive discussions on adult education. Upon competing her term in the Ministry of National Education, she returned in 2006 to YSU to carry her original job as a faculty member, but two years later she was again seconded to the Ministry of Home Affairs, assuming a position as the Head of the Office of Education and Sports of the Special Territory of Yogyakarta. Upon completing her external assignment, she returned to YSU as a full professor. All her experiences have led her to conclude that education is indeed a huge, complex noble business which should be a cross-sector concern and needs a strong yet empowering leadership and management. Having assumed a position as the Vice Rector for Cooperation and Partnership Affairs at YSU since April 2012, she is now utilizing her understanding to help facilitate the cooperation between her YSU and other educational institutions of all levels both inside the country and abroad.
Professionally, Suwarsih Madya has participated actively in a professional association called TEFLIN (the Association of Teaching English as a Foreign Language in Indonesia) as: a member (since 1977 – now), an initiator and also reviewer of the TEFLIN Journal (1988-now), a second treasurer (1988-1993), Vice-President (2000-2003), President (2004-2009), an Advisory Board member (2010-now), and Coordinator of the Measurement and Evaluation Division (2010-now). In 2014 she collaborated with the Indonesian Association of Psychology to establish the Indonesian Testing Service Center, which serves anyone who needs to sit the Test of Basic Academic Ability and the Test of English Proficiency. She also served as the Indonesian representative in Asia TEFL (2005-2009) and chaired the Organizing Committee (consisting of members recruited from about ten universities across Indonesia) of the 6th Asia TEFL International Conference in Bali, August 2008 attended by 1,068 participants from 34 Countries. At the beginning of 2014, she chaired the Organizing Committee of the 27th ICSEI International Conference held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, from 2-7 January 2014, attended by around 350 participants from 33 countries.