Best universities in Asia

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

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June 2 2021
Best universities in Asia


The 2021 Asia University Rankings reveal the best colleges and universities in Asia, featuring institutions from 30 territories.

Japan leads the way, with 116 universities in the ranking, while China comes second, with 91 ranked institutions. India is the third most-represented country, with 63 universities.

Hong Kong is the most represented area in the top 10, with three universities present.

The Asia University Rankings are based on the same 13 performance indicators as the Times Higher Education 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. Tsinghua University, China

Tsinghua University has been committed to a multidisciplinary system for more than 30 years, having undergone many changes since its establishment in 1911.

It is known as one of the most elite universities in China, admitting 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, which features in the top 20 in the overall THE World University Rankings, also achieves a top 30 position for engineering and technology, life sciences, 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 influential at home and abroad, most notably in Chinese politics. Particle physicist Chen-Ning Yang is a Nobel prizewinner associated with the university.

2. Peking University, China

Peking University 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 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

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 Japan
Best universities in Malaysia

3. National University of Singapore, Singapore

The oldest institution in Singapore and the largest by student numbers, the National University of Singapore combines research excellence and innovation.

It ranks in the top 25 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 three decades to 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 programmes are more flexible than those in the UK; as in the US system, students may 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.

Notable alumni include four Singaporean prime ministers and presidents, two Malaysian prime ministers, and many other politicians, businesspeople and local luminaries.

4. University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

English is the main language of instruction at the University of Hong Kong, 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 neighbourhood 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, only one student gets a place for every 31 applications.

Undergraduate courses take four years to complete, with 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 the private sector.

5. Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Nanyang Technological University, Singapore is a research-intensive university located in Singapore.

It has gone up one place in the 2021 Asia University Rankings to be included in the top five. It also features in the top 50 of the World University Rankings.

The university also ranks highly for engineering and technology and computer science courses.

The university is organised into six colleges and schools as well as several institutions including Singapore’s National Institute of Education and the Earth Observatory of Singapore.

Spread over 200 acres, the Yunnan Garden Campus is the largest university campus in Singapore and is often considered one of the most beautiful university campuses in the world.

Student experiences in Asia

A day in the life of a student in India
Studying at a Japanese university: the experiences of two British students
A day in the life of a student in Japan
A day in the life of a student in Singapore
International perspective: an American student in China

Coronavirus: when learning never (quite) stops in Singapore
International perspective: a British student in South Korea

Ten things to know about studying in India
International perspective: a British student in China
Why more international students should consider studying in China
The 10 most beautiful universities in East Asia

The best universities in Asia 2021: the top 100

Asia Ranking 2021 Asia Ranking 2020 University Country/region World University Rank 2021
1 1 Tsinghua University China =20
2 2 Peking University China 23
3 3 National University of Singapore Singapore 25
4 4 University of Hong Kong Hong Kong 39
5 6 Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Singapore 47
6 7 The University of Tokyo Japan =36
7 8 Chinese University of Hong Kong Hong Kong =56
8 5 The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Hong Kong =56
9 9 Seoul National University South Korea 60
10 12 Kyoto University Japan =54
11 17 Fudan University China =70
12 =13 Zhejiang University China =94
13 =13 Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) South Korea 96
14 =10 Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) South Korea =101
15 =10 University of Science and Technology of China China =87
16 19 Shanghai Jiao Tong University China 100
17 18 Nanjing University China =111
18 15 Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) South Korea 151
19 16 City University of Hong Kong Hong Kong 126
20 21 National Taiwan University (NTU) Taiwan 97
21 23 Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) South Korea =176
22 20 Korea University South Korea =167
23 24 Hong Kong Polytechnic University Hong Kong 129
24 22 Yonsei University (Seoul campus) South Korea =187
25 25 Tel Aviv University Israel =191
26 33 Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) China 251–300
27 30 Tohoku University Japan 201–250
28 26 King Abdulaziz University Saudi Arabia 201–250
29 29 Kyung Hee University South Korea 251–300
30 35 Taipei Medical University Taiwan 301–350
31 28 Alfaisal University Saudi Arabia 251–300
32 32 Macau University of Science and Technology Macao 251–300
33 27 Hebrew University of Jerusalem Israel 201–250
34 34 Huazhong University of Science and Technology China 301–350
35 =52 Qatar University Qatar 301–350
36 45 Beijing Normal University China 301–350
37 36 Indian Institute of Science India 301–350
38 37 University of Macau Macao 301–350
=39 =38 Sun Yat-sen University China 251–300
=39 =38 United Arab Emirates University United Arab Emirates 301–350
41 44 Wuhan University China 301–350
=42 =38 Hanyang University South Korea 351–400
=42 31 Khalifa University United Arab Emirates 351–400
44 54 Central South University China 351–400
45 NR Kurdistan University of Medical Sciences Iran 301–350
46 78 Sejong University South Korea 301–350
47 50 Tongji University China 401–500
48 42 Tokyo Institute of Technology Japan 301–350
49 43 University of Malaya Malaysia 301–350
=50 =60 American University of Beirut Lebanon 301–350
=50 64 South China University of Technology China 401–500
52 41 Nagoya University Japan 351–400
53 68 King Saud University Saudi Arabia 401–500
54 46 National Tsing Hua University Taiwan 351–400
55 47 Indian Institute of Technology Ropar India 351–400
=56 51 Harbin Institute of Technology China 401–500
=56 =52 Nankai University China 351–400
58 =75 Sharif University of Technology Iran 401–500
59 =48 Babol Noshirvani University of Technology Iran 351–400
60 =60 Universiti Brunei Darussalam Brunei Darussalam 351–400
61 =98 East China Normal University China 351–400
62 =75 Hong Kong Baptist University Hong Kong 351–400
63 =55 Osaka University Japan 351–400
64 =89 China Medical University, Taiwan Taiwan 401–500
65 73 Hunan University China 401–500
66 57 University of Occupational and Environmental Health, Japan Japan 351–400
67 79 Tianjin University China 401–500
=68 58 Jordan University of Science and Technology Jordan 401–500
=68 =48 Sabancı University Turkey 501–600
70 =83 Amirkabir University of Technology Iran 501–600
71 85 Southeast University China 501–600
72 =106 Xi’an Jiaotong University China 401–500
73 74 Koç University Turkey 401–500
=74 63 Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology South Korea 501–600
=74 71 Kyushu University Japan 401–500
76 87 Iran University of Science and Technology Iran 501–600
77 62 Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) Japan 401–500
=78 =55 Indian Institute of Technology Indore India 401–500
=78 =100 National Yang-Ming University Taiwan 401–500
=80 =65 Cankaya University Turkey 401–500
=80 =103 Northwestern Polytechnical University China 501–600
=80 72 Technion Israel Institute of Technology Israel 401–500
83 88 Shenzhen University China 401–500
=84 86 Beihang University China 501–600
=84 102 King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals Saudi Arabia 501–600
=84 =65 University of the Philippines Philippines 401–500
=87 =110 Beijing Institute of Technology China 501–600
=87 =69 University of Peradeniya Sri Lanka 401–500
89 NR Zhejiang Normal University China 501–600
90 =89 National Chiao Tung University Taiwan 501–600
91 80 National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (Taiwan Tech) Taiwan 501–600
92 117 University of Electronic Science and Technology of China China 501–600
93 =106 Soochow University China 501–600
=94 109 Tehran University of Medical Sciences Iran 501–600
=94 =93 University of Tsukuba Japan 401–500
96 113 Xiamen University China 501–600
97 =103 National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) Taiwan 501–600
=98 97 Chung-Ang University South Korea 601–800
=98 96 Hokkaido University Japan 501–600
=100 =110 University of Kashan Iran 501–600
=100 =75 Quaid-i-Azam University Pakistan 501–600
=100 105 Renmin University of China China 501–600

The Asia University Rankings 2021: full results

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