Best universities in Asia 2018

Find the top universities in Asia, using Times Higher Education’s rankings data

February 6 2018

The 2018 Asia University Rankings reveal the 350+ best colleges and universities in Asia, featuring institutions from 25 countries.

Japan leads the way with 89 universities in the ranking, while China comes in second with 63 ranked institutions. India is the third most represented country with 42 universities, up from 33 last year. 

For the first time this year, Hong Kong is the most represented territory in the top 10, with three universities included. 

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 politicians, businesspeople and local luminaries.

2. 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 30 in the overall THE World University Rankings. It also achieves a top 30 position for engineering and technology, life sciences, medicine, physical sciences, computer science and business. 

The campus is in northwest Beijing in a district specifically designated as a university hub. The buildings display both traditional Chinese architecture and Western styles. Based on the former site of the 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, one of whom is particle physicist Chen-Ning Yang, are associated with the university. 

3. Peking University, China

Peking 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 relocating 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 entrance gates to the campus have 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 
Best universities in South Korea
Best universities in East Asia
Best universities in Japan


4. 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. 

=5. Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong

New to the top five this year, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology was established in 1991. The university focuses on teaching and learning in science, technology, engineering, management and business studies but also offers courses in the social sciences and the humanities. 

The institution is a campus university located in the northern part of Clear Water Bay Peninsula in the Sai Kung District. The campus lies on a slope and buildings and facilities are built on terraces that have been carved out of the hillside. The academic facilities are on the top-level terraces and undergraduate halls of residence and sporting facilities are at the seafront. 

The Lee Shau Kee library is located centrally on campus and contains more than 720,000 print and electronic volumes and 47,000 periodicals. The library also contains a collection of old maps of China and the rest of Asia that were produced by Chinese and Western cartographers over the last 500 years. 

=5. Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

While consistently ranked among the best universities in the world, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) is only 27 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 within 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.

About 25,000 undergraduates are enrolled at the university and 30 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
Finding a place at the National University of Singapore
International perspective: a Brazilian in Japan
Why I chose to study at Osaka City University
The study experience at Tohoku University


The best universities in Asia 2018: the top 100

Asia Rank 2018 Asia Rank 2017 University Country/Territory World University Rank 2018
1 1 National University of Singapore Singapore =22
2 3 Tsinghua University China 30
3 2 Peking University China =27
4 5 University of Hong Kong Hong Kong 40
=5 6 Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Hong Kong 44
=5 4 Nanyang Technological University Singapore 52
7 11 Chinese University of Hong Kong Hong Kong 58
8 7 University of Tokyo Japan 46
9 9 Seoul National University South Korea =74
10 8 Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) South Korea =95
11 14 Kyoto University Japan =74
12 10 Pohang University of Science and Technology South Korea =137
13 13 Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) South Korea =111
14 12 City University of Hong Kong Hong Kong =119
15 15 University of Science and Technology of China China 132
16 16 Fudan University China 116
17 25 Nanjing University China =169
18 19 Zhejiang University China =177
19 17 Hong Kong Polytechnic University Hong Kong =182
=20 18 Shanghai Jiao Tong University China =188
=20 NR Yonsei University (Seoul campus) South Korea 201–250
22 NR Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology South Korea 201–250
23 23 King Abdulaziz University Saudi Arabia 201–250
24 20 Korea University South Korea 201–250
25 22 Tel Aviv University Israel 201–250
26 24 National Taiwan University Taiwan =198
27 21 Hebrew University of Jerusalem Israel 201–250
28 32 Osaka University Japan 201–250
29 =27 Indian Institute of Science India 251–300
30 26 Tohoku University Japan 201–250
31 =27 Koç University Turkey 301–350
32 NR Khalifa University United Arab Emirates 301–350
33 30 Tokyo Institute of Technology Japan 251–300
34 =33 Sabancı University Turkey 351–400
35 35 Nagoya University Japan 301–350
36 =33 National Tsing Hua University Taiwan 301–350
37 NR Babol Noshirvani University of Technology Iran 301–350
38 38 Hanyang University South Korea 351–400
39 31 Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology South Korea 351–400
40 36 Kyung Hee University South Korea 401–500
41 37 Technion Israel Institute of Technology Israel 301–350
42 41 National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (Taiwan Tech) Taiwan 401–500
43 =47 Sun Yat-sen University China 351–400
44 42 Indian Institute of Technology Bombay India 351–400
45 =49 Wuhan University China 401–500
46 59 University of Malaya Malaysia 351–400
47 =43 University of Macau Macao 351–400
=48 45 Kyushu University Japan 351–400
=48 39 National Chiao Tung University Taiwan 401–500
50 60 Chung-Ang University South Korea 401–500
51 68 Bar-Ilan University Israel 401–500
52 =77 Qatar University Qatar 401–500
53 61 Tongji University China 401–500
54 46 Bilkent University Turkey 401–500
=55 58 Hokkaido University Japan 401–500
=55 =49 Hong Kong Baptist University Hong Kong 401–500
57 65 Huazhong University of Science and Technology China 401–500
58 =47 National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) Taiwan 501–600
59 =56 King Saud University Saudi Arabia 501–600
=60 87 Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur India 501–600
=60 51 Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) Japan 401–500
62 =77 Harbin Institute of Technology China 501–600
63 =56 University of Tsukuba Japan 401–500
64 82 Tianjin University China 501–600
=65 53 Ewha Womans University South Korea 501–600
=65 70 Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee India 501–600
67 52 Boğaziçi University Turkey 401–500
=68 131-140 Alfaisal University Saudi Arabia 501–600
=68 121-130 Jordan University of Science and Technology Jordan 401–500
70 =72 Southeast University China 501–600
71 83 United Arab Emirates University United Arab Emirates 501–600
=72 67 China Medical University, Taiwan Taiwan 501–600
=72 =72 Soochow University China 501–600
74 88 National Taiwan Normal University Taiwan 501–600
=75 85 American University of Beirut Lebanon 501–600
=75 NR Central China Normal University China 501–600
=77 NR Shandong University China 501–600
=77 66 University of Ulsan South Korea 501–600
79 121-130 Quaid-i-azam University Pakistan 401–500
80 86 Xiamen University China 401–500
=81 63 Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur India 501–600
=81 96 South China University of Technology China 501–600
=83 NR Fujita Health University Japan 501–600
=83 71 Sharif University of Technology Iran 601–800
=83 91 Taipei Medical University Taiwan 601–800
86 =54 Indian Institute of Technology Delhi India 501–600
87 75 Renmin University of China China 501–600
88 101-110 Amirkabir University of Technology Iran 601–800
89 =79 East China Normal University China 501–600
90 81 Xi’an Jiaotong University China 501–600
=91 84 East China University of Science and Technology China 601–800
=91 =79 Istanbul Technical University Turkey 601–800
=91 =54 King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals Saudi Arabia 501–600
94 =92 Beihang University China 601–800
95 141-150 Konkuk University South Korea 501–600
96 =92 Isfahan University of Technology Iran 601–800
=97 97 Mahidol University Thailand 501–600
=97 90 Pusan National University South Korea 601–800
99 111-120 Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) Malaysia 501–600
=100 111-120 University of Haifa Israel 601–800
=100 =99 Sejong University South Korea 501–600
=100 131-140 Tezpur University India 601–800

Asia Rankings 2018: full results

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