Asia University Rankings 2021: results announced

Japan achieves best performance in six years, but China still tops the regional ranking 

June 2, 2021
Source: iStock
Autumn foliage at the University of Tokyo

View the THE Asia University Rankings 2021 results


Japan is home to two of the top 10 universities in Asia for the first time in six years, according to Times Higher Education’s latest ranking for the region.

The University of Tokyo ranks sixth in the THE Asia University Rankings 2021, up one place since last year, while Kyoto University is 10th, up from 12th. Both institutions improved across the board, achieving higher scores for teaching environment, research environment, citations, industry income and international outlook.

The last time these institutions were both in the top 10 was in 2015, when Tokyo took the number one spot and Kyoto was ranked ninth. Since then, until this year, there has been a story of decline for Japan’s flagship universities as they were overtaken by institutions in Singapore and China.


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Earlier this year, the Japanese government announced plans to raise capital for a ¥10 trillion (£70 billion) endowment for university research, partly in an attempt to restore the nation’s place in global academic rankings and to bridge a funding gap with other countries. It remains to be seen whether the fund will achieve those aims.

The Asia University Rankings are led by two Chinese institutions for the second year in a row – Tsinghua University in first place and Peking University in second.

However, the University of Science and Technology of China dropped out of the top 10 this year, falling five places to 15th – a blip in an otherwise positive year for the country. The institution received lower scores for teaching, citations and industry income this year. South Korea’s Sungkyunkwan University also fell from joint 10th to 14th, largely due to a drop in its citations score.

Israel is home to the top institution outside East and Southeast Asia, with Tel Aviv University holding on to 25th place. However, Israeli institutions have declined overall; the country has just three institutions in the top 100, down from five last year. Most Indian universities have also declined.

Meanwhile, Iran has a new top institution, Kurdistan University of Medical Sciences, which is included in the table for the first time this year at 45th place. Most of Iran’s other representatives have also improved.

Overall, 551 institutions across 30 territories are included in the ranking. Japan is once again the most-represented nation with 116 institutions.


THE Asia University Rankings 2021: the top 10

2021 rank 2020 rank Institution Country/region 
1 1 Tsinghua University China
2 2 Peking University China
3 3 National University of Singapore Singapore
4 4 University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
5 6 Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Singapore
6 7 The University of Tokyo Japan
7 8 Chinese University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
8 5 The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Hong Kong
9 9 Seoul National University South Korea
10 12 Kyoto University Japan

ellie.bothwell@timeshighereducation.com

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