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Top 10 Universities in Asia Under 50 Years Old

By Sabrina Collier

Updated July 17, 2017 Updated July 17, 2017

Unsurprisingly for a continent of its size, Asia has a large number of universities to choose from, with a significant number included in the QS World University Rankings® 2018. While many prestigious Asian universities date back to the 19th or early 20th century (if not before), the region is also home to many fast-rising young institutions.

In fact, Asia boasts six uninterrupted places at the top of the QS Top 50 Under 50 2018, which showcases the world’s top universities under 50 years old.

A total of 21 young universities in Asia are included in the Top 50 Under 50, more than any other region. This includes universities from across the continent, in both the far east and the far west of Asia, including countries such as Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Out of all the Asian countries featured, Hong Kong and Malaysia each have the most entries (four each), with all but one of Hong Kong’s representatives appearing in the top 10.

Read on for an overview of the top 10 young universities in Asia this year, plus a quick look at the other Asian universities featured in the Top 50 Under 50...

1. Nanyang Technological University (NTU)


Nanyang Technological University (NTU)

Ranked first in the Top 50 Under 50 for the fourth time in a row this year, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) is also ranked 11th in the QS World University Rankings® 2018, overtaking its older rival, the National University of Singapore (NUS) to be the best university in Singapore for the first time. Founded in 1991, NTU holds the largest university campus in Singapore. A research-intensive university, it’s considered particularly strong for its engineering programs.

2. Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST)


Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST)

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) occupies second place in the Top 50 Under 50 this year. Like NTU, it was established in 1991, and has built up a strong reputation for innovation in its short period of operation. HKUST features at 30th in the 2018 edition of the World University Rankings. Around 14,200 students are enrolled at HKUST, including over 5,000 from outside of Hong Kong.

Trying to decide between NTU and HKUST? Read a comparison of the two top young universities in Asia.

3. KAIST - Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology



KAIST is ranked third in the QS Top 50 Under 50 and joint 41st in the overall QS World University Rankings. A public research university, it was founded in 1971 and has more than 10,000 students. Its main campus is located in Daejeon in the city’s science and research hub, Daedeok Innopolis, one of several areas often referred to as Asia’s Silicon Valley.

4. City University of Hong Kong


City University of Hong Kong

Ranked fourth in the Top 50 Under 50 and 49th in the world in the QS World University Rankings, the City University of Hong Kong was founded in 1984 (originally called the City Polytechnic of Hong Kong), and gained official university status 10 years later. The university has a strong reputation for research, and for the pioneering work of its business school.

5. Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH)



The South Korean POSTECH is ranked fifth in the Top 50 Under 50 and joint 71st in the world this year. Established in 1986, it was the first South Korean institution to be officially labeled a bilingual campus. The university’s vast 378-acre smart campus includes 72 state-of-the-art research centers, including the country’s only synchrotron radiation facility.

6. Hong Kong Polytechnic University


Hong Kong Polytechnic University

The final of the uninterrupted run of Asian universities at the top of this year’s Top 50 Under 50 ranking, Hong Kong Polytechnic University is also ranked joint 95th in the world overall. Although it dates back to 1934 (when it was known as the Government Trade School), it didn’t gain full university status until 1994. It now has around 28,400 students, and has developed 255 global connections with exchange partners across the world.

7. Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM)

Universiti Putra Malaysia

Also featured among the top 10 young universities in Asia is Malaysia’s Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), ranked 15th in the Top 50 Under 50 this year. This year, UPM made an impressive climb up the latest QS World University Rankings, and is now ranked the 229th best university in the world. Founded in its present form in 1973, UPM has a history going back to 1931, when it originated as a school of agriculture. It now has around 24,870 students, 4,445 of whom come from outside Malaysia.

8. Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM)

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia

Ranked 16th in this year’s Top 50 Under 50, UKM also made an impressive climb in this year’s QS World University Rankings, jumping 72 places to rank joint 230th. UKM was established in 1970 and now has almost 27,000 students, including 2,500 international students. Also known as the National University of Malaysia, UKM was named as one of five Malaysian research universities in 2006.

9. University of Tsukuba

University of Tsukuba

Japan’s sole representative in the Top 50 Under 50, at 20th place, the University of Tsukuba is also featured at 225th in the overall world rankings. Founded in its current form in 1973, the university actually has roots going back to 1872. It’s located in the city of Tsukuba in the Ibaraki prefecture, which has its own Science City. It has a strong focus on internationalization, with over 340 global inter-university agreements.

10. Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM)

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia

Concluding our list of the top 10 young universities in Asia in 2018, UTM is ranked 21st in the Top 50 Under 50 and 253rd in the world this year. A research-intensive university, UTM was established in 1972 and specializes in engineering, science and technology. It’s located in Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru and aims to be a world-class center of academia and technological excellence.

Other top young Asian universities

In addition to the universities listed above, a further 11 Asian institutions are featured in the QS Top 50 Under 50 2018. Malaysia has one more entry: Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), which is ranked joint 23rd with Taiwan’s National Taiwan University of Science and Technology. Also featured are Kazakhstan’s L.N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University (35th), Brunei’s University of Brunei Darussalam (joint 37th) and Qatar’s Qatar University (joint 37th). 

This article was originally published in July 2017 .

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Written by

The former Assistant Editor of, Sabrina wrote and edited articles to guide students from around the world on a wide range of topics. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University and grew up in Staffordshire, UK. 

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