In the 21st century, Asia, the home of numerous world-renowned universities, has become the preferred destination for higher education of both local and foreign scholars. In this issue, Top 10 of Asia looks at its list of the top 10 Asian universities, leading universities that have managed to carve a name for themselves in the competitive world of higher education.
University of Tokyo
The prestigious University of Tokyo, spread out across five campuses in the Bunkyo part of Tokyo, is internationally recognised for consistently appearing in the Academic Ranking of World Universities as the highest ranking university outside of the Western World. Locally known as Tokyo Daigaku or Todai, the research university boasts a student body of more than 30,000 locals and foreigners, enrolled in the countless faculties available. Considered the most prestigious university of Japan, Todai first emerged in 1877 and has never ceased to provide its students with top notch education and practical life lessons ever since.
National University of Singapore
Hailed as the flagship tertiary institution of Singapore, the National University of Singapore or NUS, is the oldest higher learning establishment of the country. Founded in 1905, NUS houses more than 27,000 students and 2,000 academic staff in its campuses strewn across the industrious island nation. Embracing a global approach to education and research, NUS has continuously emerged as the best university of Southeast Asia through high quality curriculum and diverse enrolment of students. Since its inception, this comprehensive research university has produced many illustrious individuals, including Malaysia’s ex-premiers, Tun Abdul Razak and TunDr Mahathir Mohamad.
University of Hong Kong
Established in 1911, University of Hong Kong or HKU is the oldest tertiary institution in the island state of Hong Kong. This research-intensive university holds more than 30,000 students and staff, both local and foreign. Committed to creating knowledge, providing education and serving the society, this institution also strives to be the pioneer of frontier research endeavours and scholarly achievements. It proved its strength as an intensive-research institution to the world when it became the first team in the world to successfully identify and announce the coronavirus – the causative agent of SARS.
The Peking University (PKU) or locally known as Beida is a world-renowned research university located in Beijing and is the first established modern national university of China. Boasting a staggering number of close to 40,000 foreign and local students and staff, PKU is frequently recognised as one of the best universities in Asia and the world by international rankings and research bodies. Besides academics, PKU is especially well-known for its green college grounds and the magnificent traditional Chinese architecture of the campus buildings. Throughout its history, PKU has educated many prominent Chinese thinkers including the revolutionary Mao Zedong.
Pohang University of Science and Technology
Pohang, South Korea
Located in Poyang, to the southwest of Seoul, the Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) is a private university dedicated to research and education in the fields of science and technology. Since its commencement, POSTECH has continuously topped both local and international rankings of higher learning institutions thanks to its crystal clear raison d’etre and even more resolute drive. Founded only in 1986, this young university has managed to surpass many other older institutions of heritage and history in a short period of time, clearly demonstrating its prowess and competence in become a leading university in Asia.
Tsinghua University is an important name in the world of higher education is located in the Chinese capital of Beijing, together with its rival and neighbour – the Peking University. Founded in 1911, Tsinghua has since then dedicated itself to academic excellence, the well-being of Chinese society and to the development of the global scene. This Chinese ivory tower is known throughout Asia and the world for having one of the most beautiful campus grounds. Tsinghua is currently one of the top universities in Asia and the world, having produced Chinese Presidents and is constantly validated by numerous international rankings.
Seoul National University
Seoul, South Korea
With ‘The Truth Is My Light’ as its motto, the Seoul National University or SNU not only boasts of charming campus grounds but sophisticated structures as well. The university hosts two of the leading libraries in the nation, two world-renowned museums, and has its own newspaper. Since its inception in 1946, Seouldae has helped shaped numerous alumni whose contributions span a wide array of fields, from science and technology to politics and entertainment. Currently the university possesses a strong student body of more than 28,000 and a staff count of close to 6,000 people.
National Taiwan University
Founded by the Japanese and then taken over by the Chinese, the National Taiwan University (NTU) has quite a history behind it. Considered the top-ranked university in Taiwan, NTU has gone further to become one of the best institutions of higher learning in both Asia and the world. With 8 campuses collectively located in the greater Taipei region and the Nantou County, NTU caters to almost 40,000 students and staff. Also known as Táidà, NTU remains the influential flagship university of Taiwan and the country’s primary research-led institution, housing almost equal number of graduate and undergraduate students.
Established in 1907, Tohoku University or Tohokudai became the first university in Japan to take in female students in the year 1913 despite facing serious opposition from various parties. Being one of the Japanese Imperial universities, it successfully resisted the great East Japan earthquake of 2011 and was revitalised. The historical university maintains numerous libraries, a hospital and countless research centres in its grounds in line with its emphasis on practice-oriented research and education. Tohoku University is also notorious for being one of the most selective universities in Japan with its entrance exam being one of the toughest in the country.
Situated in the fourth largest city of Japan, Nagoya University or Meidai first began in 1871 as a temporary medical school. Always expanding in terms of its size and quality of education offered, it has emerged as a formidable force in Japan’s higher education scene. Nagoya University has produced many notable alumni since its initiation, including many Nobel Laureates and scientists who have tremendously contributed to the global community, solidifying the university’s status as an admirable research institute. At the same time, the Law School of Nagoya University has arisen as one of the nation’s top law schools as well.