Home to over half of the world’s population (4 billion), Asia is the largest and most populous continent. Asia’s 17 million square miles is home to 48 countries. There are over 4,400 accredited colleges and universities in Asia. With that many institutions of higher education, how can students choose the best university for them? TheBestSchools.org has evaluated Asia’s institutions of higher learning and chosen the best university in each country in Asia.
Unsurprisingly, China, the world’s most populous country, is home to large and impressive universities. For instance, Tsinghua University, located in Beijing, was founded in 1911; it offers 51 Bachelor’s programs, 139 Master’s programs, and 107 Doctoral programs. Higher education in Asia is not limited to large cultural centers. Brunei, occupying just over 2,000 square miles, is home to the University of Brunei Darussalam. Established in 1985, the school is organized into eight academic faculties, nine research institutes, and six service centers. Approximately 3,000 students are enrolled with nearly 600 international students.
AfghanistanThe American University of Afghanistan
Amidst the political turmoil that surrounds the Middle East, Afghanistan has a unique history and culture to share. Covering an area of 252,000 square miles, including the Silk Road, the country maintains large trade operations with parts of Asia and the rest of the Middle East. A population of over 32 million places Afghanistan as the 41st most populated country in the world.
In 2002 the Afghan Minister of Higher Education proposed the country’s first independent university, and in 2006 AUAF admitted the first group of 53 students. In just nine years the University has increased enrollment to over 1,000 students. Seven major undergraduate divisions have been established covering the subjects of Business, English and Humanities, Information Technology, Science and Mathematics, Political Science and Public Administration, and Law. The University recently opened a graduate level MBA program as well.
Numerous academic partnerships are maintained with institutions such as the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Counsel, Stanford Law School, Thunderbird School of Global Management, and many others. AUAF has also established three Centers of Excellence – the Professional Development Institute, the Business Innovation Hub, and the International Center for Afghan Women Economic Development.
BahrainUniversity of Bahrain
Bahrain is an island country near the Persian Gulf. The current population is approximately 1.3 million. The country is the site of the ancient Dilmun civilization. From Portuguese rule in 1521 through the reign of the Bani Utbah clan and a protectorate of the United Kingdom in the late 1800s, the country has seen much political turmoil. Today the area has been influenced by the Arab Springs movement. Economically, Bahrain has been investing in banking and tourism.
The University of Bahrain is the first institution of higher education of its kind in the country and was officially founded in 1986, though the school can trace its history back to the 1960’s. An average of 12,000 students are enrolled with six percent international enrollment.
The University consists of three campuses, 10 academic colleges, 20 centers of specialization and research, and 178 laboratories. A total of 38 Bachelor’s, 22 Master’s, and seven Doctoral programs are offered. The University has also maintained membership in the Islamic Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization as well as the International Association of Universities.
Notable Alumni: Salman Bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa (President of the Asian Football Confederation) and Mohamed Ali Hasan Ali (Member of the Consultative Council)
BangladeshBangladesh National University
Bangladesh is a South Asia country bordered by India and Myanmar. With a land area just under 57,000 square miles and a population over 168 million, Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. The country has a very rich historical heritage, including being a center point on the historic Silk Road, and is home to the world’s largest mangrove forest. Today the country is a unitary parliamentary republic and founding member of SAARC and BIMSTEC.
The National University of Bangladesh was established in 1992. It claims to be the second largest university in the world based on enrollment (over 1.7 million students). A public, state-run institution with connections to over 2,000 affiliated colleges, the University maintains four major academic divisions: the School of Undergraduate Studies, the Center for Postgraduate Studies and Training, the M.Phil/PhD program unit, and the Center for Curriculum Development and Evaluation. There are 10 academic disciplines, six faculties, and 30 departments.
Brunei is a small country of just over 2,000 square miles located on the north coast of the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia. The decline of the country started during the 19th century and ended with Brunei becoming a British protectorate in 1888, until it was able to gain independence again in 1984. Since then, and specifically up through 2008, the country has seen much economic growth due to the extensive petroleum and natural gas fields. The land is currently home to approximately 415,000 people.
The University of Brunei Darussalam was established in 1985 making it the oldest institute for higher education in the country. The structure of the school is organized into eight academic faculties, nine research institutes, and six service centers. Approximately 3,000 students are enrolled with nearly 600 international students. Global partnerships are maintained with over 100 universities and research institutions worldwide, including Ecuador, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
Notable Alumni: Majeedah Nuurul Bolkiah (HRH Princess) and Abdul Malik (HRH Prince)
CambodiaRoyal University of Phnom Penh
Historically known as the Khmer Empire, Cambodia is located in Southeast Asia on the Indochina Peninsula. The 69,800 square miles holds a population of over 15 million citizens, 95 percent of whom practice Theravada Buddhism, the official religion of the country. The government is a constitutional monarchy with Hun Sen as the current head of government and the longest serving non-royal leader in South East Asia.
Economically, agriculture, textiles, construction, garments, and tourism have led to an increase in foreign investment and international trade.
One of the oldest and largest institutions for higher education in Cambodia is the Royal University of Phnom Penh. Founded in 1960, there are five faculties and one Institute for academics and nine Centers and Institutes for research and support. The school is well known for its Institute of Foreign Languages. There are over 18,000 students in attendance. Royal University maintains academic and research affiliations with Cambodian and international NGOs in addition to other universities and government agencies.
Notable Alumni: Sok An (Cambodian politician); Cham Prasidh (Cambodian Minister of Industry and Handicrafts); and Khuon Sodary (Cambodian politician)
The world’s most populous country with 1.38 billion citizens, China is currently governed by the Communist Party, contrary to the previous dynasties which ruled the land for generations. Comprised of 3.7 million square miles, China is also the world’s fourth largest country by land area and maintains arguably the world’s largest economy. The nation is organized into 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four direct-controlled municipalities, and two self-governing administrative regions. The history of the land includes one of the most ancient civilizations in the world with cultural influences that cannot be overstated.
Located in Beijing, China, Tsinghua University was founded in 1911. Over 30,000 students have access to 14 schools, 56 departments, 41 research institutes, 35 research centers, and 167 laboratories, including 15 national key laboratories. There are 51 Bachelor’s programs, 139 Master’s programs, and 107 Doctoral programs available. Global partnerships have been established in 43 countries. The University also maintains an international exchange program with 6,000 participating students.
Notable Alumni: Xi Jinping (General Secretary of the Communist Party); Zhou Xiaochuan (governor of the People’s Bank of China); and Kristie Lu Stout (Chinese American journalist and news anchor for CNN International)
East TimorDili Institute of Technology
Colonized by Portugal in the 16th century, the 5,400 square miles which comprise the country of East Timor are located in Maritime Southeast Asia. East Timor remained under the Portuguese rule until 1975 and the Revolutionary Front for and Independent East Timor. Independence lasted for nine days before the country was invaded by Indonesia. Finally, in 1999 Indonesia relinquished control of East Timor after the United Nations-sponsored act of self-determination. The current 1.2 million citizens live throughout 13 municipalities which are further divided into 65 administrative posts.
The Dili Institute of Technology is a non-profit institution recently established in 2002 and accredited in 2008 with two regional campus locations. There are four major academic divisions: Engineering and Science, Petroleum Studies, Tourism and Hospitality, and Business and Management. Bachelor’s degrees and Certificate programs are available. The Institute maintains international cooperation agreements with 26 entities. Approximately 600 students are currently in attendance.
Home of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization, the 1.2 million square miles of India located in South Asia now holds a population of 1.32 billion citizens. In the 18th century India was gradually taken under the control of the British East India Company. Mahatma Gandhi led the non-violent resistance movement which brought about the county’s independence in 1947. India currently consists of 29 states and seven union territories which are organized under a federal republic parliamentary system government.
Founded in 1909, the Indian Institute of Science had humble beginnings with only two departments and a total of 21 enrolled students. Today the two departments have become the two main faculties of Science and Engineering. The two faculties are further organized into six divisions with a total of 39 departments, units, or centers. The student body has increased to over 3,500 members. The Institute has maintained international, academic, and research agreements with 23 other countries.
Notable Alumni: Dr. A.E. Muthunayagam (leading Space Scientist in Indian Space Research Organisation); Vijay Kumar Saraswat (former Director General of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Chief Scientific Advisor to the Indian Minister of Defence); and Dr. Vasudev Kalkunte Aatre (former head of the DRDO)
Located in Southeast Asia and Oceania, Indonesia is the largest island country in the world by number of islands. Over 258 million citizens inhabit the 14,000 islands of Indonesia making the country the fourth most populous in the world. The land is divided into 34 provinces which were ruled by various powers over the centuries. The country gained its independence after World War II but continues to have a politically turbulent history. Many are drawn to Indonesia for its vast natural resources of oil, copper, and gold.
Bandung Institute of Technology was established in 1920 making it the oldest trade based school in the country. Currently there are nearly 20,000 students enrolled within three major academic clusters: Natural Sciences, Engineering, and the Social Sciences/Arts and Humanities. There are a total of 13 Schools and Colleges within the three clusters which provide Bachelor through Doctoral studies. The Institute maintained 70 international partnerships in 2014.
Notable Alumni: Purnomo Yusgiantoro (Minister of Defense and former President and Secretary General of OPEC); Rizal Gozali (co-head of Credit Suisse Southeast Asia Investment Banking); and Soekarno (the First President of Indonesia)
The 636,000 square miles of Iran located in West Asia comprise the second largest country in the Middle East. Home to 78.4 million citizens, the country has also been the location of the world’s oldest civilizations. Much political turmoil has plagued the nation’s history; however since the 1979 Constitution Iran has maintained a parliamentary democracy with a theocracy of Islamic jurists. Iran holds the world’s largest natural gas supply and the fourth largest proven oil reserves.
Located in the capital city, the University of Tehran has been nicknamed the ‘mother university of Iran’. Officially established in 1934, the school incorporated departments from Dar al-Funun which was established in 1851 and the Tehran School of Political Sciences established in 1899. Now consisting of seven campuses, the University of Tehran has 40 faculties, Institutes, and Centers of both teaching and research. There are 111 Bachelor’s degrees, 177 Master’s degrees, and 156 Doctoral programs available to over 50,000 enrolled students.
Notable Alumni: Mohammad Khatami (fifth President of Iran); Lotfi A. Zadeh (the inventor of fuzzy logic); and Ali Javan (invented the gas laser and is ranked number 12 on the list of the top 100 living geniuses)
Iraq has been the center of various political struggles since the sixth millennium BC. The 169,000 square miles have been a part of the Hellenistic, Parthian, Roman, Umayyad, Mongol, and Ottoman empires, to name but a few. The country’s current borders were established by the League of Nations in 1920 after the division of the Ottoman Empire and it was put under the authority of the United Kingdom. Independence from Britain was gained in 1932 and in 1958 the Iraq republic was established.
The University of Mosul, established in 1967, temporarily closed in 2014 and was the recipient of airstrikes in 2016 due to recent political tensions in the country. However, the desire to provide competitive education continues. There are three campus locations and 19 official colleges which comprise the university. This includes a Medical college with affiliated teaching hospitals. There are 30,000 students in attendance. Students may select from over 100 scientific specializations at the Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctoral levels.
Notable Alumni: Ibrahim al-Eshaiker al-Jaafariwas (former Prime Minister of Iraq); Dr. Najmaldin Karim (current governor of Kirkuk Governorate); and William Warda (Iraqi-Assyrian journalist and a leading member of the Assyrian Democratic Movement)
The 8,000 to 8,500 square miles which comprise the nation of Israel are perhaps the most disputed lands in history. Since Biblical times Israel has seen political turmoil and the consecutive overpowering from nations including ancient Babylon, Rome, and the Ottoman Empire. After centuries of persecution and displacement, 1948 saw the establishment of the state of Israel once more. Currently the country defines itself as a Jewish and democratic state with a representative democracy and parliamentary system. There are approximately 8.4 million citizens.
Founded in 1918 and opened in 1925, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem operates six campus locations. The academic programs are organized into seven faculties and 14 schools. The various faculties maintain 90 joint and independent research Centers and Institutes. There are 23,000 students currently enrolled with the international students representing 65 countries. The University is affiliated with eight Noble Laureates. Internationally, the Hebrew University maintains 150 agreements for joint projects and has 25 agreements for student exchanges programs in 14 countries worldwide.
Notable Alumni: Reuven Rivlin (President of Israel); Ariel Sharon (Prime Minister of Israel); Léo Apotheker (former CEO of Hewlett-Packard and SAP)
JapanUniversity of Tokyo
Consisting of 145,000 square miles, the island country of Japan is located in East Asia in the Pacific Ocean. The 6,852 strato-volcanic islands are divided into 47 prefectures in eight regions. The first written mention of the islands can be traced back to the first century AD from Chinese history texts. Throughout its history, Japan has largely been influenced by Western Europe and Imperial China. There are currently 126 million citizens in Japan, making it the world’s tenth largest population.
The University of Tokyo was created from the merger of the Tokyo Kaisie School and the Tokyo Medical School. The first four faculties were that of Law, Science, Letters, and Medicine. Officially established in 1877, the University has grown to include three main campuses which contain 10 Faculties, 15 Graduate Schools, 11 affiliated Research Institutes, 13 University Centers, three affiliated Libraries, and two Institutes for Advance Study. Additional facilities include seven museums, two botanical gardens, and a University Hospital. There are approximately 30,000 students currently enrolled with 2,100 international students.
Notable Alumni: Yoshinori Ohsumi (Nobel Prize Medicine); Kiichi Miyazawa (former Prime Minister); and Kenzaburō Ōe (Nobel Prize in Literature)
JordanUniversity of Jordon
Jordon is in many ways at the center of the world. It sits at the crossroads between Africa, Europe, and Asia. The country is small and occupies arid land, but nevertheless supports a population of roughly 9.5 million people. It is ruled by a constitutional monarchy, and is considered one of the most stable states in the Middle East. Jordan is also well known for accepting refugees, especially from Palestine and Syria, and for having a working relationship with Christians. It attracts substantial tourism, especially medical tourism due to its well-developed medical industry.
The University of Jordan was formed in 1962. It offers over 3,500 courses via 18 different faculties. It has roughly 1,100 faculty members and 38,000 students. Pupils can choose from 63 bachelor’s degrees, 81 master’s programs, 30 doctoral programs, 16 medical specializations, 1 dentistry program, 3 professional diplomas, and 6 interdisciplinary master’s programs. The school also runs 63 undergraduate international programs and 130 international graduate level specializations.
Notable Alumni: Rami Hamdallah (prime Minister of Palestine); Wadah Khanfar (former director general of the Al Jazeera Media Network); and John Abizaid (former Commander of the United States Central Command)
KazakhstanAl-Farabi Kazakh National University
With just over one million square miles of land, Kazakhstan is recognized as the world’s largest landlocked country by area. Located in Eurasia between Eastern Europe and northern Central Asia, Kazakhstan was historically occupied by various nomadic tribes. In the 18th century Russia took control of the territory. After the suspension of the Soviet Union in 1991, Kazakhstan was the last to declare independence. Today the 18 million citizens are part of a unitary dominant-party presidential republic.
The Al-Farabi Kazakh National University was founded in 1933 and is recognized as the oldest classical institute for higher education in the country. The academic programs are organized into 15 departments with over 20,000 students currently in attendance. The school employs over 2,500 faculty members. Research projects are supervised by 10 scientific Institutes and 49 Research Centers. Both academic and research cooperation agreements are maintained with over 300 Universities worldwide, and the school has several especially strong connections with several South Korean universities.
Notable Alumni: Gulzhana Karagusova (Kazakhstan’s Minister of Social Justice); Zhanseit Tuimebayev (former Minister of Education and former ambassador to Russia); and Bakhytzhan Zhumagulov (Kazakhstan’s Minister of Education)
Korea, NorthPyongyang University of Science and Technology
After World War II the nation of Korea was divided into the Northern and Southern zones by the United States of America and the Soviet Union with the Americans occupying the south and the Soviets in the north. The country describes itself as a socialist state, though many accuse North Korea of being a totalitarian dictatorship. It is recognized as the country with the highest number of military and paramilitary personnel in active and reserve duty. The land covers over 46,000 square miles and is home to approximately 24.8 million people.
Pyongyang University of Science and Technology is the first privately funded institution for higher education in the country. Jointly planned with South Korea, the project for the school was introduced in 2001 with classes finally starting in 2010 after some delays in construction. Modelled after the Yanbian University of Science and Technology in northeastern China, Pyongyang University is seen as a step towards the reunification of Korea. All instruction is provided in English.
Korea, SouthSeoul National University
After World War II, South Korea came under the jurisdiction of the United States of America. The land is now considered the best developed in East Asia with the most advanced democracy. The 38,000 square miles are home to 51.5 million citizens as well as numerous advanced companies such as Samsung. The Bloomberg Innovation Index report rated South Korea as the world’s most innovative country.
Located in the capital of South Korea, Seoul National University was founded in 1946 after the merger of 10 other academic institutions in the country. There are three main campus locations which contain 16 colleges, nine professional schools, and one graduate school. A total of 83 undergraduate programs and 99 graduate programs from five fields of study are available. Over 28,000 students are currently in attendance. International academic and research agreements exist with more than 700 academic institutions in 40 countries. One Nobel Laureate is a member of the faculty.
Notable Alumni: Ban Ki-moon (UN Secretary-General); Lee Jong-wook (former Director-General of the World Health Organization); and Kwon Oh-hyun (CEO and chairman of Samsung Electronics)
Located in Western Asia, the 6,800 square miles of Kuwait were historically home to fishing villages. By the 1700’s the country had become a major trading route and was well known for its shipping industry. The land became a British Protectorate in 1899 and was invaded by Iraq in 1990 which ultimately led to the Gulf War. Though the constitution was propagated in 1962, political and economic tensions have continued. Currently the 4.1 million citizens are under a unitary constitutional monarchy.
Kuwait University was opened in 1966 as a public institution for higher education. From the humble beginnings of 400 students, 31 faculty members, and four colleges, the University grew to more than 40,000 students, 1,500 faculty members, and 17 colleges. The academic programs in addition to 18 other facilities and centers are organized across six campus locations. There are 76 undergraduate and 71 graduate programs to students to select from.
Notable Alumni: Khaled Mashal (leader of Hamas); Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah (current president of Olympic Council of Asia and also a member of the International Olympic Committee); and Halema Boland (Kuwaiti TV presenter in the Arab World)
KyrgyzstanKyrgyz Russian Slavic University
Kyrgyzstan is a landlocked country comprising 77,000 square miles and an approximate population of 5.7 million citizens. Located in Central Asia, the land was historically inhabited by various tribes and clans over the centuries and was part of the Silk Road. Kyrgyzstan was recognized as a sovereign nation-state after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Today the country maintains a unitary parliamentary republic.
The Kyrgyz Russian Slavic University stands as a symbol of cooperation and mutual respect between the Kyrgyz Republic and the Russian Federation. Opened in 1993, the school is comprised of eight departments with 60 subdivisions and 45 specialties within three areas. Post-graduate and doctoral study was added to the school’s curriculum in 1984. Instruction is provided mainly in the Russian language. Research facilities include four scientific Institutions, six Research Centers, and 10 Laboratories.
The University maintains international academic and research relations with 19 other universities as well as membership within three international academies: the International Higher Education Academy of Science, and International Informatization Academy, and the Association of CIS International Relations Schools.
Located on the Indochinese peninsula of Southeast Asia, Laos is a landlocked country comprising 91,000 square miles and a population of 6.8 million citizens. The history and culture of the land can be traced back to the Kingdom of Lan Xang Hom Khao. In 1893 Laos became a French protectorate and finally declared independence in 1953. Today the country is a one-party socialist republic strongly influenced by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
Located in the capital city, Vientiane, the National University of Laos was formally established in 1996 as the only institution for higher education of its kind in the land. There are a total of eight campus locations which contain 11 faculties, a School of Foundation Studies, a Central Library, six Centers, and a Hospital. Over 26,000 students are currently enrolled within the various programs. The University of Laos maintains international cooperation with seven other universities and is a partner of the Greater Mekong Sub-region Academic and Research Network and the ASEAN University Network.
Bordered by Syria and Israel, Lebanon consists of just over 4,000 square miles of land on the Asia continent. The country contains evidence of human civilization from before written history. Lebanon was brought under the rule of the Roman Empire in 64 BC and then the Ottoman Empire from 1516 to 1918. The country gained independence as a sovereign state in 1943. The 5.8 million citizen of the country established a unique Consociationalism government which shares power based on religious communities.
Founded in 1866 by American missionaries, the American University of Beirut is recognized as a private, secular, independent institution for higher education. Academically, the school comprises six faculties which offer over 130 programs of study from Bachelor to Doctoral. There are over 8,000 students currently enrolled within the various programs, including international students from 75 countries. Instruction is mainly provided in English. Additional facilities on campus include five libraries, three museums, and the American University of Beirut Medical Center.
Notable Alumni: Charles Malik (former president of the United Nations General Assembly); Ashraf Ghani (Afghan president); and Omar Al-Saqqaf (former Minister of Foreign Affairs)
MalaysiaUniversity of Malaya
The 127,000 square miles of Malaysia in Southeast Asia are comprised of 13 states and three federal territories. The country came under the rule of the British Empire during the 18th century and was restructured in 1948 to create the Federation of Malaya. In 1957 the country obtained independence. Since then, a federal constitutional monarchy modelled after the Westminster parliamentary system has been in place. The land is home to more than 30 million citizens with Bahasa Malaysia as the official language of the area.
In 1905 the King Edward VII College of Medicine was founded in Singapore. In 1949 the College of Medicine merged with Raffles College and formed what is now known as the University of Malaya. As the oldest public institution for higher education in the country, the school is comprised of 12 Faculties, 10 Institutes and Centers, and two Academies. Other facilities managed by the University include two Museums, the Botanical Gardens, an Experimental Farm, a Living Laboratory, and a Field Studies Center. There are approximately 27,000 students in attendance.
Notable Alumni: Abdullah bin Haji Ahmad (former Prime Minister); Gary Yap (Malaysian television personality); and Dr. Zeti Akhtar Aziz (7th Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia and first woman in the position.)
MongoliaNational University of Mongolia
Mongolia is the world’s second largest landlocked country. Located in East Asia, the country is bordered by China and Russia. Historically ruled by various nomadic tribes, the land was united under Genghis Khan who established the Mongol Empire in 1206. Today, the 603,000 square miles are home to approximately three million citizens who are governed by a unitary semi-presidential republic.
The National University of Mongolia is the oldest institution for higher education in the country. Established in 1942, the school has grown from its original three faculties to a total of 12 schools and facilities. Some of the facilities during the growth of the school established themselves as separate institutions such as the Medical and Technical Universities. There are more than 80 programs offered at both the undergraduate and graduate levels for more than 12,000 students. The majority of instruction is provided in Mongolian. The University maintains membership in five international organizations and has agreements with over 129 academic and research centers.
Notable Alumni: Galsan Tschinag (Mongolian writer) and Altangerel Perle (Mongolian palaeontologist)
Myanmar is located in Southeast Asia with a third of the country being bordered by the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. After centuries of various rulers, Myanmar was conquered by the British in the 19th century and became a British colony. In 1948 the country declared its independence. The democratic government was short lived and was overthrown by a coup d’état in 1962. Ethnic and political tensions continue through today. The 261,000 square miles, rich with jade, oil, and other natural resources, are home to approximately 51 million citizens.
A specialized technical school for the study of computer science and technology, the University of Computer Studies in Yangon was established in 1971. The school is comprised of four main teaching departments, two supporting departments, and three research departments. Programs offered include five-year Bachelor’s degrees, two year Master’s degrees, two year post-graduate degrees, and three year PhD’s. The majority of instruction is provided in English. The University is affiliated with at least 25 other institutions worldwide.
Located in South Asia along the Himalayas are the 56,000 square miles of Nepal. This landlocked country bordered by China and India contains eight of the ten tallest mountains in the world including the tallest, Mount Everest. Historically a monarchy, the country was ruled by the Shah dynasty from 1768 till 2008. The Communist Party of Nepal pushed for civil war. The political conflicts were resolved in 2005 with the 12-point agreement which led to the first Nepali Constituent Assembly in 2008. The Assembly formally abolished the monarchy and established the federal multiparty representative democratic republic to govern the 27 million citizens.
Kathmandu Vishwovidalaya is a non-for-profit, non-government institution which established its first campus in 1985. The University manages six schools with 12 major programs of study. There are over 3,000 students currently in attendance. Kathmandu Vishwovidalaya is affiliated with 14 local colleges and numerous international teaching institutions in 25 other countries. The KU International Center is a facility on campus open to hosting international guests and programs.
Located in the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, Oman comprises a territory of over 119,000 square miles. The capital city of Muscat has been recognized as one of the most important trading ports in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean. The 3.2 million citizens are governed by an absolute monarchy with Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said as leader since 1970, making him the longest-serving ruler in the Middle East. Arabic is the official language of the country.
Enrollment began at Sultan Qaboos University in 1986 with five original colleges and 500 students. Today the school operates nine colleges, nine research centers, and nine support centers. Additional facilities include one Center of Excellence in Marine Biotechnology and a University Hospital. More than 15,000 students are currently in attendance. Most students are selected based on impressive high school performance. The University has maintained successful partnerships with 17 international organizations. Sultan Qaboos University is the only public institution for higher education in the country.
Located in South Asia, the current day Pakistan covers an area of 340,000 square miles. The country was uniquely created in 1947 in the name of Islam as an independent nation for Muslims. Historically, however, the land has been much disputed by various powers including the Indian Mauryan Empire, the Mughal Empire, the Sikh Empire, and the British Empire. With more than 199 million citizens Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world. The people are governed by a federal parliamentary republic with four provinces and four federal territories.
The National University of Sciences and Technology in Pakistan was founded in 1991. Both civil and military resources were combined to make the opening of the school possible. The University encompasses four major campus locations, five colleges, 10 schools, and over 20 departments. Additionally there are 10 Centers for research and study. More than 15,000 students are currently in attendance. International connections have been established with over 30 other institutions for higher education.
One of the most disputed areas in the Middle East, the State of Palestine claims the land of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as the capital. The Palestine Liberation Organization declared the areas independence in 1988, however much of the land has been occupied by Israel since the Six-Day War in 1967. The 2,400 square miles are divided into 16 administrative areas which are home to approximately 4.5 million citizens.
Originally established as an Elementary School for girls in 1934, Birzeit became the first recognized Arab University in Palestine in 1975. Graduate level study was added in 1977. Today there are eight colleges offering a total of 91 programs including 59 Bachelor’s degrees and 28 graduate tracks. Additional facilities include 11 specialized research centers and institutes with five training centers. The school also manages the University Museum, the Naseeb Shaheen Aziz Theater, and the Observatory. There are more than 12,000 students currently in attendance.
Notable Alumni: Hanan Daoud Khalil Ashrawi (Palestinian legislator, activist, and scholar) and a number of professors are also appointed as ministers in the current Palestinian government.
PhilippinesUniversity of the Philippines
An island country in Southeast Asia, the Philippines consists of more than 7,000 islands in the western Pacific Ocean on the Ring of Fire. The 115,000 square miles are prone to natural disasters due to the location; however, there are also many natural resources and some of the greatest biodiversity. Home to over 100 million citizens, the Philippines are the seventh most populated country in Asia. Hispanic colonization of the islands started in 1521. The country was recognized as an independent entity after WWII and has maintained a unitary presidential constitutional republic.
The University of the Philippines is one of the largest institutes for higher education in the country with 15 campus locations, seven constituent universities, and one autonomous college. The heart of the school is the Diliman flagship campus which holds nearly 50 percent of the more than 57,000 enrolled students. Of the nearly 50 research Centers and Institutes affiliated with the school, 24 units have been recognized as Centers of Excellence, and six units have been affirmed as Centers of Development.
Notable Alumni: Frances Rivera (U.S.-based Emmy award-winning TV journalist); Maria Valentina Plaza (Member of the House of Representatives of the Philippines); and Emerlinda Roman (first female president of the University of the Philippines)
Qatar University – On the coast of the Arabian Peninsula in Southwest Asia is the relatively small country of Qatar. Bordering Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf, the 4,400 square miles of land were historically ruled by the Ottoman Empire before becoming a British protectorate in the 20th century. Today the 2.5 million citizens are governed by a hereditary constitutional monarchy with Arabic as the official language of government and trade. The land holds the world’s third largest reserves of natural gas and oil.
Founded in 1973, Qatar University is the only public government institution for higher education in the country. The school is comprised of eight colleges and eight centers and institutes for research. Qatar also operates an ocean vessel. Instruction is provided in both Arabic and English. More than 16,000 students are currently in attendance. All entering students are required to take a Foundation Program for basic math, English, and computer technology skills. National leaders have recognized the pitfalls of begin overly dependent on energy resources, and are actively using Qatar University as a bridge to greater economic diversity.
Notable Alumni: Murad Naji Hussein (Qatari footballer); Mohammed Saleh Abdulla Al Sada (Minister of Energy and Industry of Qatar); and Alya bint Ahmed Al Thani (permanent representative of Qatar to the UN)
Saudi ArabiaKing Abdulaziz University
An Arab state located in Western Asia, Saudi Arabia consists of 830,000 square miles making it the fifth largest country in Asia. Historically consisting of four distinct regions, the land was united in 1932 by Ibn Saud who founded the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Since then the 28.7 million citizens have been governed by an absolute monarchy. With the discovery of petroleum in 1938, the country has become the largest producer and exporter of oil in the world.
Founded in 1967 as a private institution for higher education, King Abdulaziz University became a public school in 1974. The school is comprised of 18 main faculties, five institutes, and one Community College. There are 22 Centers for study and research and nine Centers of Excellence. The school also operates one University Hospital. There are more than 37,000 students in attendance. In recent years the university has quickly risen in rankings as it has attracted numerous prestigious international faculty, although some have criticized it for paying faculty with insufficient connections to the Institution to list King Abdulaziz University as a school of secondary affiliation. Regardless, King Abdulaziz University is a rapidly rising university with substantial financial backing and well on its way to becoming a regional power.
Notable Alumni: Nahed Taher (CEO of Gulf One Investment Bank. Ranked 72nd in Forbes magazine’s list of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women in 2006) and Osama Bin-Laden (founder and leader of Al-Qaeda)
SingaporeNational University Singapore
National University Singapore – Also known as the Garden City, the Lion City, and the Red Dot, Singapore is a unique island city-state in Southeast Asia. Consisting of the main land and 62 islets, the 278 square miles have been settled since the second century AD and are now home to 5.5 million persons who are governed under a unitary, multiparty, parliamentary republic.
The current National University of Singapore is the result of a merger of the former University of Singapore with the Nanyang University. Tracing its history and founding back to 1905 the school has been recognized as the oldest university in the country. Today the academic programs are organized into 12 undergraduate and four graduate level schools which offer 70 Bachelor’s degrees and 144 Master’s and Doctoral degrees. Additionally, there are 26 Centers and Institutes of research and three Research Centers of Excellence. There are over 38,000 students enrolled with more than 100 countries represented in the student body.
Notable Alumni: Margaret Chan (Director General of World Health Organisation); Kishore Mahbubani (former President of the UN Security Council); and Chew Choon Seng (CEO of the Singapore Exchange and Singapore Tourism Board)
Sri LankaUniversity of Colombo
Originally known as Ceylon, the island country of Sri Lanka located in South Asia declared its independence from British rule in 1972. The current constitution of Sri Lanka was adopted in 1978. The 25,000 square miles are home to more than 20.2 million people who sustain a culture largely influenced by Buddhism and Hinduism. Sri Lanka claims to be the oldest democracy in Asia with Sinhalese and Tamil as the official languages.
The University of Colombo was founded in 1921 as the University College Colombo with affiliations to the University of London. The academic programs are organized into seven faculties and 43 departments. There are an additional seven Institutes, five Centers, and one school all within a single campus location. More than 11,000 students are in attendance. The school maintains membership is several international networks including the Association of Commonwealth Universities and the International Association of Universities.
Notable Alumni: Ranil Wickramasinghe (Prime Minister of Sri Lanka); Kumar Sangakkara (captain of the Sri Lankan national cricket team); and Deshamanya Dr Vernon Mendis (former UN Special Envoy to the Middle East)
Though the modern boundaries for Syria were established after World War I, the capital city of Damascus is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Located in Western Asia, Syria is comprised of more than 71,000 square miles divided into 14 governorates which are further divided into 61 districts. The land is home to over 17 million people with Arabic as the official language. Recently, political tension has led to warfare across the nation as multiple foreign powers, including America and Russia, have taken military action within the country.
One of the oldest and largest institutions for higher education in the country, Damascus University was established in 1923 through the merger of the former School of Medicine and the Institute of Law. The University currently maintains four campus locations, five Higher Institutes, nine Centers for research and study, and 14 Technological Institutes. One of the Institutes focuses on teaching the Arabic language to foreigners. Additionally, the University is affiliated with eight teaching hospitals. More than 210,000 students are currently in attendance.
Notable Alumni: Giles Clarke (chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board); Abdelsalam al-Majali (former Prime Minister of Jordan); and Mahmoud Abbas (President of the Palestinian Authority)
One of the most densely populated countries in the world, Taiwan is comprised of nearly 14,000 square miles with 23.4 million people. A sovereign state in East Asia, the land was inhabited by aborigines until the 17th century when the Dutch and Spanish settled there. Previously known as ‘Formosa’, the land was then ruled by Japan until the Republic of China took over in 1945. Mandarin is the official language of the country.
The National Taiwan University was founded in 1928 during the Japanese administration of the land. Originally known as the Taikhoku Imperial University, the name was changed to National Taiwan University in 1945 by the Republic of China. Today the school operates seven campus locations with 11 colleges and 54 departments. There are more than 100 graduate Institutes and four major research Centers for study and research. Over 32,000 students are currently in attendance with numerous Bachelors through Doctoral level programs to select from.
Notable Alumni: Tsai Ing-Wen (President of the Republic of China); Sisy Chen (famous talk show host in Taiwan); and George Kuo (co-discoverer of Hepatitis C)
TajikistanTajik State Medical University
Landlocked in Central Asia, Tajikistan is comprised of 55,300 square miles of mountainous terrain. The land has been home to numerous people groups and cultures over the centuries and has been subject to the rule of many empires including the Sassanian Empire, the Timuid dynasty, and the Russian Empire. Tajikistan declared its independence in 1991 after the disbanding of the Soviet Union. Today the 8.6 million citizens live under a presidential republic with the official language of Tajik, however Russian is also common.
Tajik State Medical University was established in 1939 and originally known as the Abu Ali Ibn Sino University School of Medical Personnel. This public institution for higher education is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Health. There are more than 70 faculties in which students may study medical, paramedical, and other allied branches within the field. In 2010, the University switched from six year programs to five year programs.
Located in the middle of the Indochinese peninsula in mainland Southeast Asia lays the 198,000 square miles of Thailand. Home to over 66 million people, the country is governed by the National Council for Peace and Order headed by King Bhumibol Adulyadei. Thai is the official language of government and Theravada Buddhism is the primary religion. The culture and religion of Thailand have been heavily influenced by India.
Located in the capital city of Bangkok, Mahidol University traces its history back over 120 years ago to the first medical teaching hospital in the country, Siriraj Hospital. Currently the University operates six campus locations which are comprised of 16 faculties, eight institutes, and six colleges. Academic programs offered include 79 Bachelor’s degrees, 157 Master’s degrees, and 65 Doctoral programs. More than 18,000 students are in attendance with approximately 700 full-time international students. The University maintains over 200 active collaborations with international institutions.
Notable Alumni: Princess Chulabhorn Walailak (a princess of Thailand) and Pirat Nitipaisalkul (actor)
Bordered by eight other countries and three bodies of water, Turkey operates as a significant crossroad between Europe and Asia. With history dating back to the Paleolithic age, Turkey has been under the rule of many nations and empires. The country was able to gain independence and establish the modern Republic of Turkey in 1923 after the Turkish War for Independence. Today the 79.4 million people are governed under a unitary parliamentary constitutional republic.
Founded in 1453 during the rule of the Ottoman Empire, the history of Istanbul University is extensive and includes many regime changes. The current name and structure of the University were established in 1933. The University operates 12 campus locations, 17 academic and research Institutes, 20 facilities, and a school. Additionally there are 50 President Centers, seven vocational schools, a University Hospital, and several Museums. There are more than 178,000 students enrolled with approximately 70,000 in open and distance education. Faculty and alumni include two Nobel Laureates.
Notable Alumni: Abdullah Gül (Turkish President); Ferit Orhan Pamuk (winner of Nobel Prize for Literature); and Mehmet Ali Şahin (former Speaker of the Parliament of Turkey)
United Arab EmiratesUnited Arab Emirates University
The United Arab Emirates nation was established in 1971. There are seven emirates, each individually governed by an absolute monarch, which comprise the Federal Supreme Council. The land covers an area of more than 32,000 square miles with desert covering four fifths of the nation. Located along the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf, the nation has played a vital role in the transport of world crude oil. Home to 9.2 million people, the official language of the land is Arabic and the official religion, Islam.
One of three government funded schools, the United Arab Emirates University is the oldest being founded in 1976. The school operates six campus locations with nine colleges headed by Deans. There are 52 Bachelor programs, 37 Master programs, three Doctoral level programs, and an MD degree available to students. The student body consists of more than 12,000 pupils from all seven emirates and 59 other countries.
Notable Alumni: Ahmed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (regarded as the 27th most powerful person in the world by Forbes in 2009); Fatima Al Jaber (listed as the 94th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes); and Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs of the United Arab Emirates)
Located in Central Asia, Uzbekistan is comprised of 172,000 square miles divided into 12 provinces, one autonomous republic, and one capital city. Throughout history the land has been ruled by the Timurid Empire and then the Eastern Turkic nomads. The Russian Empire conquered the area in the 19th century and after the breakup of the Soviet Union, Uzbekistan declared independence in 1991. The 31.5 million people are governed by a unitary constitutional presidential republic with Uzbek as the official language.
Founded in 2002 in close affiliation with the University of Westminster in the United Kingdom, the Westminster International University in Tashkent is the first international institution for higher education in Uzbekistan. The school is also considered the first to offer a Western education in Asia. Currently there are five Bachelor’s degrees, two Master’s degrees, and a Postgraduate certificate available. All courses are international and validated by the University of Westminster. Instruction is provided in English.
Located in Southeast Asia, Vietnam is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula. The 128,000 square miles were under the rule of Imperial China for over a millennium until the 19th century when first the French Empire prevailed and then the Japanese in the 1940’s. In 1954 the First Indochina War succeeded in expelling the French and dividing the country into two political rivals, North and South Vietnam. The country as a whole is home to approximately 90.5 million people.
Located in the capital city, Vietnam National University was established in 1993. The school traces its history back to the Indochinese University founded in 1906. The current structure of the school was established from the merger of the University of Hanoi, the Hanoi University of Education, and the College of Foreign Languages. Academic programs are organized into 10 colleges and faculties. Additionally, the University operates two high schools for students gifted in foreign languages.
Notable Alumni: Võ Nguyên Giáp (Vietnam People’s Army general) and Ngô Bảo Châu (mathematician, winner of Fields Medal in 2010)
Comprised of more than 203,000 square miles, including over 200 islands, Yemen is the second largest country on the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. The land has been ruled by various empires over the centuries including the Himyarite Kingdom, the Rasulid dynasty, and was divided between the British and Ottoman Empires in the 20th century. The modern republic of Yemen emerged in 1990 when the Northern and Southern states united.
Sana’a was created in 1970. At the school’s founding it had two faculties, one for Sharia and Law and the other for education. It is now comprised of 17 faculties, 10 of which are located in the capital of Sana’a while the remaining 7 are spread throughout Yemen. Its alumni include Tawakel Karman, the first Arab woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. It has a large enrollment of well over 45,000 students. It offers degrees ranging from the introductory bachelorette through the masters and doctorate.
Notable Alumni: Tawakel Karman (awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize. First Yemeni citizen and first Arab woman to win a Nobel Prize.)