The best universities in Asia 2016

Find the top universities in Asia, using Times Higher Education’s rankings data
June 20 2016

A new Asia university ranking reveals the 200 best colleges and schools in Asia, featuring institutions in 22 different countries.

The 2016 Times Higher Education Asia university Rankings show the diverse options for studying in Asia. Both Japan and China have 39 universities in the ranking while Singapore’s two ranked universities take the two top spots.


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Hong Kong and South Korea are also well represented in the top 20. Overall, Taiwan is just behind China and Japan with 24 universities in the ranking.

The Asia ranking methodology uses the same 13 indicators to evaluate institutions as the THE World University Rankings, but gives less weight to reputation and more weight to industry income.

Top five universities in Asia

Scroll down for the top 50

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; similarly to 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.

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2. Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

While consistently ranked among the best universities in the world, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) is only 25 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.

2. Peking University, China

The world’s top Chinese university ranks in the top 50 worldwide and was the very 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 original features and landscaping, including gardens, pagodas and historic buildings.

The gates leading onto campus have painted murals on the ceiling and are well known as attractions within 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.

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. Main Building, completed in 1912, is the oldest structure and has been declared a national monument.

Admissions are extremely selective; there are approximately 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.

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5. 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.

Like most other universities in Asia’s top five, Tsinghua 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 dynastry 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.

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Top 50 universities in Asia 2016

Click each institution to view its full World University Rankings 2015-2016 results

Asia Rank World University Rank University Country
1 26 National University of Singapore Singapore
=2 55 Nanyang Technological University Singapore
=2 42 Peking University China
4 =44 University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
5 =47 Tsinghua University China
6 59 Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Hong Kong
7 43 University of Tokyo Japan
8 116 Pohang University of Science and Technology South Korea
9 85 Seoul National University South Korea
10 148 Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) South Korea
11 =88 Kyoto University Japan
12 153 Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) South Korea
13 =138 Chinese University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
14 201–250 University of Science and Technology of China China
15 =167 National Taiwan University Taiwan
16 201–250 City University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
=17 178 Hebrew University of Jerusalem Israel
=17 251–300 Korea University South Korea
19 201–250 Fudan University China
20 201–250 Tel Aviv University Israel
21 251–300 Koç University Turkey
22 201–250 Hong Kong Polytechnic University Hong Kong
23 201–250 Tohoku University Japan
24 201–250 Tokyo Institute of Technology Japan
25 251–300 Zhejiang University China
26 251–300 King Abdulaziz University Saudi Arabia
27 251–300 Indian Institute of Science India
28 301–350 National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (Taiwan Tech) Taiwan
29 251–300 Nanjing University China
30 251–300 Osaka University Japan
31 301–350 National Chiao Tung University Taiwan
=32 301–350 Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology South Korea
=32 301–350 Shanghai Jiao Tong University China
34 301–350 Nagoya University Japan
35 251–300 National Tsing Hua University Taiwan
36 251–300 Technion Israel Institute of Technology Israel
37 301–350 Yonsei University South Korea
38 351–400 Sabancı University Turkey
39 351–400 Hanyang University South Korea
40 351–400 Sun Yat-sen University China
41 401–500 National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) Taiwan
42 401–500 Kyung Hee University South Korea
43 351–400 Indian Institute of Technology Bombay India
44 351–400 Hong Kong Baptist University Hong Kong
45 351–400 Bilkent University Turkey
=46 401–500 China Medical University, Taiwan Taiwan
=46 401–500 University of Tsukuba Japan
48 401–500 Kyushu University Japan
49 401–500 Hokkaido University Japan
50 401–500 University of Macau Macao

 Access the complete Asia university Rankings 2016 top 200


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