The best universities in Asia 2017

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.

Student experiences in Asia

Opportunities for students in Hong Kong
Studying in Asia – Hong Kong or Singapore?
Do you need to know Chinese to study in Hong Kong?
My experience as a foreign student in China led to a job with Google
Tokyo’s tiny medical school defied my expectations
Studying at POSTECH, South Korea
Why I chose to study at the National University of Singapore

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. 

The best universities in Asia 2017: the top 100

2017 Asia ranking 2016 Asia Ranking University Country World University Rank
1 1 National University of Singapore Singapore 24
2 2 Peking University China 29
3 5 Tsinghua University China 35
4 2 Nanyang Technological University Singapore 54
5 4 University of Hong Kong Hong Kong 43
6 6 Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Hong Kong 49
7 7 University of Tokyo Japan 39
8 10 Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) South Korea 89
9 9 Seoul National University South Korea 72
10 8 Pohang University of Science and Technology South Korea 104
11 13 Chinese University of Hong Kong Hong Kong 76
12 16 City University of Hong Kong Hong Kong 119
13 12 Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) South Korea 137
14 11 Kyoto University Japan 91
15 14 University of Science and Technology of China China 153
16 19 Fudan University China 155
17 22 Hong Kong Polytechnic University Hong Kong 192
18 32 Shanghai Jiao Tong University China 201-250
19 25 Zhejiang University China 201-250
20 17 Korea University South Korea 201-250
21 17 Hebrew University of Jerusalem Israel 186
22 20 Tel Aviv University Israel 201-250
23 26 King Abdulaziz University Saudi Arabia 201-250
24 15 National Taiwan University Taiwan 195
25 29 Nanjing University China 201-250
26 23 Tohoku University Japan 201-250
27 27 Indian Institute of Science India 201-250
27 21 Koç University Turkey 251-300
29 37 Yonsei University South Korea 251-300
30 24 Tokyo Institute of Technology Japan 251-300
31 32 Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology South Korea 301-350
32 30 Osaka University Japan 251-300
=33 35 National Tsing Hua University Taiwan 251-300
=33 38 Sabancı University Turkey 301-350
35 34 Nagoya University Japan 301-350
36 42 Kyung Hee University South Korea 351-400
37 36 Technion Israel Institute of Technology Israel 301-350
38 39 Hanyang University South Korea 351-400
39 31 National Chiao Tung University Taiwan 401-500
40   Toyota Technological Institute Japan 351-400
41 28 National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (Taiwan Tech) Taiwan 401-500
42 43 Indian Institute of Technology Bombay India 351-400
=43 50 University of Macau Macao 351-400
=43   Veltech University India  
45 48 Kyushu University Japan 351-400
46 45 Bilkent University Turkey 351-400
=47 41 National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) Taiwan 401-500
=47 40 Sun Yat-sen University China 401-500
=49 44 Hong Kong Baptist University Hong Kong 351-400
=49 55 Wuhan University China 401-500
51 59 Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) Japan 401-500
52 64 Boğaziçi University Turkey 401-500
53 55 Ewha Womans University South Korea 401-500
=54 60 Indian Institute of Technology Delhi India 401-500
=54 66 King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals Saudi Arabia 401-500
=56 96 King Saud University Saudi Arabia 501-600
=56 46 University of Tsukuba Japan 401-500
58 49 Hokkaido University Japan 401-500
59   University of Malaya Malaysia  
60 70 Chung-Ang University South Korea 401-500
61 92 Tongji University China 501-600
62 62 Indian Institute of Technology Madras India 401-500
63 101–110 Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur India 401-500
64   Atilim University Turkey 401-500
65 68 Huazhong University of Science and Technology China 401-500
66 52 University of Ulsan South Korea 501-600
67 46 China Medical University, Taiwan Taiwan 501-600
68 67 Bar-Ilan University Israel 401-500
69 52 Tokyo Metropolitan University Japan 401-500
70 65 Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee India 501-600
71 52 Sharif University of Technology Iran 501-600
=72   China University of Geosciences (Beijing) China  
=72 78 Soochow University China 501-600
=72   Southeast University China 501-600
75 88 Renmin University of China China 401-500
76   Khalifa University of Science, Technology and Research United Arab Emirates 501-600
=77 75 Harbin Institute of Technology China 501-600
=77 121–130 Qatar University Qatar 501-600
=79 83 East China Normal University China 501-600
=79 91 Istanbul Technical University Turkey 501-600
81 80 Xi’an Jiaotong University China 501-600
82 58 Tianjin University China 501-600
83 101–110 United Arab Emirates University United Arab Emirates 501-600
84 63 East China University of Science and Technology China 501-600
85 84 American University of Beirut Lebanon 501-600
86 77 Xiamen University China 401-500
87 51 Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur India 501-600
88 68 National Taiwan Normal University Taiwan 501-600
89 79 Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Israel 501-600
90 84 Pusan National University South Korea 501-600
91 111–120 Taipei Medical University Taiwan 601-800
=92   Beihang University China  
=92 57 Iran University of Science and Technology Iran 501-600
=92 61 Isfahan University of Technology Iran 601-800
95 101–110 Sogang University South Korea 501-600
96 89 South China University of Technology China 601-800
97 90 Mahidol University Thailand 501-600
98 82 China Agricultural University China 501-600
=99 73 National Sun Yat-Sen University Taiwan 601-800
=99 111–120 Sejong University South Korea 501-600

Asia Rankings 2017: full results (top 300)

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