Find the top universities in Asia, using Times Higher Education’s rankings data
March 15 2017
The 2017 Asia University Rankings reveal the 300 best colleges and schools in Asia, featuring institutions in 24 different countries.
Japan leads the way with 69 universities featured in the ranking, with China coming in second with 54 ranked institutions.
The inclusion of 100 more universities this year (300, compared with 200 in 2016) has revealed the countries that may become stronger players in the higher education sector in the future, including Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan.
The Asia University Rankings are based on the same 13 performance indicators as the THE World University Rankings, but these have been recalibrated to reflect the attributes of Asia’s universities. Here’s the methodology in full.
Top five universities in Asia
Scroll down for the top 100
1. National University of Singapore, Singapore
The oldest institution in Singapore and the largest by student numbers, the National University of Singapore (NUS) combines research excellence and innovation.
It ranks in the top 30 in the world overall with particularly high scores for research and international outlook and a standout performance in engineering and technology.
The entrepreneurial focus at the university dates back 30 years with the formation of a dedicated centre for innovation and technopreneurship.
NUS uses British-style teaching through small group tutorials and US-style course credits to make up the degree requirements. Degrees are more flexible than in the UK; as in the US system, students can transfer between courses early in their degree, take modules across different faculties and are required to have a broad, cross-disciplinary selection of courses.
Many students live on campus in one of the 6,000 residential places across various halls, all served by an internal shuttle bus to take students around campus.
A number of influential alumni have graduated from the university, including four Singaporean prime ministers and presidents, two Malaysian prime ministers, and many other politicans, businessmen, judiciaries and local celebrities.
2. Peking University, China
The world’s top Chinese university also ranks in the top 30 worldwide and was the first modern national university in China, founded at the end of the 19th century.
Now it is known as a centre for progressive thought and research excellence. It currently has 216 research centres, two of which are national engineering institutions.
Although the university teaches and researches across science, social sciences and humanities, it particularly stands out internationally for physical sciences and engineering.
The university library is the largest of its kind in Asia, holding 11 million books and other resources.
After moving site in 1952, the main campus is now on the former site of the Qing dynasty imperial gardens and still has some of the original features and landscaping, including gardens, pagodas and historic buildings.
The gates leading on to campus have painted murals on the ceiling and are well known as attractions in their own right.
On campus, there are specific dormitories for the 2,000 international students.
Many prominent thinkers in China are alumni of Peking University. Three Nobel prizewinners are also associated with the institution.
Best universities in Asia by country
Best universities in Singapore
Best universities in China
Best universities in India
Best universities in Hong Kong
Best universities in Taiwan
Best universities in Pakistan
3. Tsinghua University, China
Tsinghua University has been committed to a multidisciplinary system for more than 30 years after going through many changes since its establishment in 1911.
It is known as one of the most elite universities in China and admits only those students who score extremely highly in the national exams.
The university offers 51 different undergraduate programmes and more than 200 postgraduate degrees.
Tsinghua also features in the top 50 in the overall THE World University Rankings. It also achieves a top 30 position specifically for engineering and technology.
The campus is in northwest Beijing in a district specifically designated as a university hub. The buildings display both traditional Chinese architecture and American styles. Based on the former site of Qing dynasty royal gardens, the campus has been named one of the most beautiful in the world.
Many graduates become extremely influential at home and abroad, most notably in Chinese politics. Two Nobel prizewinners are associated with the university, including particle physicist Chen-Ning Yang.
4. Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
While consistently ranked among the best universities in the world, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) is only 26 years old.
Ranked just outside the top 50 universities in the THE World University Rankings, NTU is particularly renowned for engineering and technology and has various engineering schools under the College of Engineering.
The Nanyang Business School is the largest in Singapore, boasting 160 professors from more than 20 countries teaching accountancy and business to undergraduates and postgraduates.
There are about 25,000 undergraduates enrolled at the university and 20 per cent are international.
NTU runs a scholars’ programme to attract the best school students who also have outstanding extracurricular achievements. Scholars receive personal guidance from faculty members, intensive research opportunities, trips abroad and interactions with Nobel prizewinners.
Perhaps surprisingly given the technological focus, a significant proportion of graduates have become politicians and public servants. Many high-profile personalities in the media and business executives are also graduates.
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Studying at POSTECH, South Korea
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5. University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
English is the main language of instruction at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), located in Pokfulam.
It was founded by the British governor in 1911 but began to integrate Chinese culture and education into its courses by 1927, when the first degree in Chinese was offered.
The buildings on the main campus in the mid-levels of Hong Kong Island are some of the only remaining examples of British colonial architecture. The Main Building, completed in 1912, is the oldest structure and has been declared a national monument.
Admissions are extremely selective; there are about 12 applications for every place for an international undergraduate. For students from mainland China, one student gets a place for every 31 applications.
Undergraduate courses take four years to complete and it is a further year or two for medical programmes. All local students are now required to take English and Chinese language courses.
HKU graduates have been fundamentally involved in building modern China’s political, economic and cultural landscape. Many are also in senior positions in private-sector organisations.