Under the rigorous and competitive Asian educational systems, only the brightest get a seat in the best universities in the region. In the latest survey by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), conducted among half a million 15-year-old students in 65 countries, students from Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taipei and South Korea gained scores highest in math and science. At the annual Mathematical Olympiad, mainland China has won first place eight times in the past decade, and South Korea has been in the top five.
For many years these schools have focused on educating national citizens, but there is growing recognition of a more global body of students. Many institutions have opened both admissions and exchange programs with universities in other countries. However, the number of American students, for example, studying abroad for academic credit, in 2012 is less than 300,000. 53% of these students chose European programs and only 12% went to Asia.
The tides are turning.
But that’s not only because Asian universities are under-explored, but also because they have clear advantages for students over American ones: more accessible tuition, depth of cultural immersion, and the opportunity to take classes at a world-class university. Here are six of best universities in Asia:
#1 National University of Singapore
The National University of Singapore is ranked number one in Asia in the QS Universitary Rankings. Founded in 1905 as a medical school, the National University of Singapore is the oldest and largest comprehensive university in the country.
The admission process is highly internationalized. The school accepts students under the educational systems of Europe, India and mainland China. NUS also has campuses abroad: Silicon Valley, Philadelphia, Shanghai, Beijing, Stockholm, India, and Israel. NUS opened a medical school with Duke in 2005, and co-established a Yale University campus in August 2013.
As at Stanford, where there is an ingrained entrepreneurial culture, the environment at NUS is super-entrepreneurial. Since the 1980s, the school has established its Center for Entrepreneurs and awarded prizes for outstanding efforts in innovation and entrepreneurship.
#2 HongKong University
Located in the melting pot of Asia, the University of HongKong is the Columbia of the Asian country. Founded in 1911 during the British colonial era, HKU maintains a strong international presence and is known for its popularity with international students. In 2012, around 6,800 non-local students were enrolled on campus.
The university is also a founding member of Universitas 21, an international consortium of research universities. HKU benefits from a general operating budget supplied by the highest levels of government. In 2012-13, the Research Fellowship Council awarded the University of HongKong a total funding of $ 140 million for research.
With the possibility of obtaining full scholarships, its cosmopolitan atmosphere and freedom in academic research, the HKU is one of the most sought-after options among students of excellence from China and other parts of Asia.
#3 Seoul National University
Founded in 1946, it owes its existence to the government’s initiative to modernize the institutions of higher education of the 19th century. The university admissions process is very competitive: its freshmen belong to the top 2.5% of all Korean students who take the national entrance exam.
Seoul National University has strong business programs: it operates dual business master’s degrees with Duke University and dual degrees with management schools with MIT and Yale. Among the school’s notable graduates is Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general.
#4 Peking University
Founded as the Imperial University of Peking in 1898, Peking University is often seen among the top ranks of the elite universities in Asia. Like China’s Yale, Peking University’s humanities and social sciences programs are among the largest in the country, and PKU is often the dream school of China’s politically-conscious and socially active students. Admissions are highly competitive; Last year, in Zhejiang province alone, 120 out of 313,000 applicants were accepted through the annual national university exams (Gaokao).
In recent years, PKU has expanded its international study programs to attract foreign students from America and Europe. Last month, the university launched Yenching Academy, which will accept the first class of 65 foreign students to study a one-year masters of the Chinese Studies program under full scholarships in 2015.
#5 Tokyo University
As the best national university in Japan, UTokyo is the best choice for Japanese students. It is Cornell Japan, specializing in topics related to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), medicine and agricultural science. Six prime ministers and seven Japanese Nobel Laureates graduated from UTokyo.
In the fall of 2012, this university launched two undergraduate programs taught entirely in English and aimed at international students.
#6 Tsinghua University
Asia’s premier STEM Institute, Tsinghua University, is often called MIT China. Tsinghua was established as Tsinghua College, as part of the Qing dynasty’s postwar payment to the United States in 1911. Following the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, Tsinghua followed the national strategy of “invigorating China through science and education (Kejiao Xingguo) ”, specializing in natural sciences and engineering. Each year about 3,300 graduates are accepted into Tsinghua, out of a pool of more than 8 million. More than 90% of them enrolled in STEM related fields.
Still under the influence of Kejiao Xingguo, many Chinese politicians received a STEM education; Therefore, Tsinghua is not only home to the best STEM careers in the country, it is also the alma mater of many prominent political figures. President Xi Jinping and former President Hu Jintao are Tsinghua graduates.
Like MIT, Tsinghua seeks to develop departments of studies other than STEM. Since the 1990s, Tsinghua incorporates disciplines of law, economics and administration, journalism and communication. The school is also focusing on its international study program. In 2013, the Schwarzman Scholarship was launched, designed to select 160 foreign scholars each year to work on a master’s degree in public policy, international relations, engineering and economics. The program recruited its advisory board members from Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Duke University, and aims to build a Chinese equivalent of the Rhodes Scholarship.
These are 6 best universities in Asia. If you want to study in Asia, they are undoubtedly the best choices for you. Certainly, except for them, there are also some other good universities in Asia. If you want to know these schools, you can use CatEight’s School Finder to do a school search.