Asia University Rankings 2017: Top 10

The National University of Singapore is the top institution in the continent for the second year in a row, while Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan and Thailand are among the Asian nations that could become leading higher education hubs in future years, according to the Times Higher Education Asia University Rankings 2017.

Thailand is the most represented country in Southeast Asia, with 10 universities in total, led by Mahidol University in 97th place. King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang, one of three new entries for the nation, has climbed into the top 200. It is particularly strong in terms of industry income, ranking among the top 30 when measured on this indicator alone.

Meanwhile, Indonesia now has two representatives, doubling its tally from last year; while Pakistan has seven, up from two, including two additional entries in the top 200. 

But of the emerging university nations in Asia, the rankings results suggest that Malaysia has the greatest potential.

The country claims seven of the top 200 places, up from four last year, and features a total of nine institutions overall.

The University of Malaya is the nation’s new number one institution. It occupies 59th place overall despite taking part for only the first time this year. The data show that it has a particularly strong international outlook when compared with other leading universities in the continent; it ranks 20th when measured on this indicator alone.

Mohd Amin Jalaludin, vice-chancellor of the University of Malaya, said that international students now made up 18 per cent of the institution’s total enrolment, up from 5 per cent in 2000, and that about 20 per cent of its academics came from abroad.

The university now offers programmes in English “to accommodate this major shift”, he said.

In addition, about 40 per cent of the university’s research papers are published with international collaborators, he said, adding that the university’s high-impact research programme, which ran from 2011 to 2016, had “transformed” the research culture among academics and postgraduate students.

According to Professor Jalaludin, Malaysia was “definitely on [its] way to becoming a leading higher education nation”, based on the number of “quality universities” and branch campuses of renowned international institutions in the country. He cautioned, however, that “there should be distinctions” between what smaller countries such as Malaysia can achieve compared with giants such as China.

“While we may not have the kind of scale [that China enjoys], we should be focusing on quality,” he said.

Overall, the most-represented nation in the rankings is Japan, with 69 institutions. However, the majority of Japan’s universities have lost ground in the rankings since last year, while rivals in China, Hong Kong and India have continued to rise.

The table is based on the same 13 performance indicators as THE’s World University Rankings, but these have been recalibrated to reflect the attributes of Asia’s universities.

2017 Asia rank 2016 Asia rank World University rank 2016-17 University Country
1 1 24 National University of Singapore Singapore
2 =2 29 Peking University China
3 5 35 Tsinghua University China
4 =2 54 Nanyang Technological University Singapore
5 4 =43 University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
6 6 49 Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Hong Kong
7 7 39 University of Tokyo Japan
8 10 =89 Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) South Korea
9 9 =72 Seoul National University South Korea
10 8 =104 Pohang University of Science and Technology South Korea