Stakes are high across Asia

Money, policies and partnerships aim to unlock the region’s full potential

June 2, 2021
Asian students
Source: iStock

View the THE Asia University Rankings 2021 results


For many universities across the world, the Covid-19 pandemic has been a huge blow financially, with declines in student enrolment, additional costs for cleaning, testing and remote instruction and revenue losses in areas such as student housing and events creating serious economic challenges. Some institutions have responded by cutting jobs and departments; a number are in the process of restructuring entirely.

But some countries and institutions in Asia are enjoying so much investment that you could be forgiven for thinking the pandemic had never happened. As we detail in our analysis, universities are hiring new academic staff, businesses and philanthropists are funding new schools, and governments are increasing their spending on higher education, with Japan’s £70 billion university research endowment perhaps the most eye-catching announcement.


THE Campus view: What does the rise of Asia mean for global higher education?


The spending spree is not confined to developed East Asian countries, and neither are the success stories in our Asia University Rankings. While China, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan dominate the top 10 of the 2021 table, universities in other regions, such as Iran and Malaysia, are making progress. This year’s ranking includes 551 universities, up from 489 last year, with 30 nations represented in total.

The data behind the results suggest that collaboration between national neighbours might be driving some of the strong performances. Figures show that highly ranked institutions in China, Japan and Singapore tend to take advantage of their local rivals’ strengths in particular disciplines when partnering on research.

Cooperation is a theme among some of our contributions from sector leaders and experts, too. Eiichi Saitoh, president of Fujita Health University, shares his advice for successful university-industry collaboration, drawing on his experiences of partnering with Toyota Motor Corporation on the development of activity-assist robots, while Indian policy expert Eldho Mathews explains why the country is pushing to sign new international agreements for mutual recognition of qualifications.

Establishing these fruitful collaborations and improving the cultures and systems within universities will not be easy, as our main analysis suggests, but combined with the huge investments occurring, the results could be transformative.

There is also much at stake. In the case of India, the country was warned at a recent Times Higher Education event (which took place before the second coronavirus wave swept across the country) that it risks turning a “demographic dividend into a demographic disaster” if it fails to implement its ambitious new education policy, with detrimental knock-on effects for the rest of the world.

“The risk is a more volatile India, one that’s more susceptible to instability, corruption and all the malaise that you get when you have a vast young population unable to find its way in a globalised economy,” said Lord Johnson of Marylebone, a former UK universities minister and president’s professorial fellow in King’s College London’s Policy Institute.

The same could be said for several other countries in Asia with rapidly growing young populations and the potential to become global knowledge superpowers.

ellie.bothwell@timeshighereducation.com


Countries/regions represented in THE Asia University Rankings 2021

Country/region

Number of institutions

Top institution

Rank

Japan

116

The University of Tokyo

6

China

91

Tsinghua University

1

India

63

Indian Institute of Science

37

Iran

47

Kurdistan University of Medical Sciences

45

Turkey

43

Sabancı University

=68

Taiwan

38

National Taiwan University (NTU)

20

South Korea

35

Seoul National University

9

Thailand

17

Mahidol University

=130

Pakistan

16

Quaid-i-Azam University

=100

Malaysia

15

University of Malaya

49

Saudi Arabia

10

King Abdulaziz University

28

Indonesia

9

University of Indonesia

=194

Israel

7

Tel Aviv University

25

Hong Kong

6

University of Hong Kong

4

Jordan

5

Jordan University of Science and Technology

=68

United Arab Emirates

5

United Arab Emirates University

=39

Lebanon

4

American University of Beirut

=50

Iraq

3

University of Technology, Iraq

351–400

Kazakhstan

3

Al-Farabi Kazakh National University

301–350

Vietnam

3

Vietnam National University, Hanoi

251–300

Bangladesh

2

University of Dhaka

351–400

Macao

2

Macau University of Science and Technology

32

Philippines

2

University of the Philippines

=84

Singapore

2

National University of Singapore

3

Sri Lanka

2

University of Peradeniya

=87

Brunei Darussalam

1

Universiti Brunei Darussalam

60

Kuwait

1

Kuwait University

251–300

Nepal

1

Tribhuvan University

251–300

Oman

1

Sultan Qaboos University

201–250

Qatar

1

Qatar University

35

Register to continue

Why register?

  • Registration is free and only takes a moment
  • Once registered, you can read 3 articles a month
  • Sign up for our newsletter
Register
Please Login or Register to read this article.

Related articles

Sponsored

Featured jobs

Product Setup Assistant

Bpp University

Administrative Assistant

University Of Southampton

Lecturer in Health and Social Care, FE

University College Birmingham