Top 10 University in Southeast Asia 2019

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Southeast Asia is known for some of the most innovative and finest universities in the world. While most of us are familiar with internationally recognised universities from American and United Kingdom, in the past few decades South East Asia has seen a surge of development. Leading the path in terms of advanced future research, while also collaborating with established university systems around the world, Southeast Asia has become a major destination for some of the world’s best and brightest students.


1.National University of Singapore

The National University of Singapore(NUS) is the oldest higher education institution in Singapore. Recognised for its exceptional school for engineering and technology, it also has a dedicated centre for innovation and entrepreneurship in the tech industry for the past 30 years.

The university adopts a flexible degree-granting system which the students have the option to transfer between departments and different faculties at the early stages to promote a more robust, cross-disciplinary education instead of emphasising too much on a single field.

The biggest highlight of the university is their four “Research Centres of Excellence” focusing on quantum technologies, cancer research, mechanobiology and environmental life sciences.


2.Nanyang Technological University

The Nanyang Technological University(NTU) is the second oldest higher education institution in Singapore. NTU main campus is based in Jurong West which covers 200 hectares of land making it the largest university campus in Singapore.

The institution is committed to advance research in seven different fields including medicine, social sciences, arts, humanities, business and engineering. In order to progress further to contributing and excel at the highest level, NTU through its Institute of Advanced Studies(IAS) has established an advisory panel of several Nobel laureates.

NTU is the only university in Singapore to guarantee all students a room on campus their first two years and bond-free scholarships are also offered at the institution. Known for its lush greenery, NTU was named as one of the world’s most beautiful universities.


3.University Malaya

University Malaya(UM) is the highest-ranking Malaysian institution and the oldest university in Malaysia. UM was originally comprised of two autonomous divisions with one located in Kuala Lumpur and the second branch was located in Singapore which later becomes the National University of Singapore. Initially founded to cover the shortage of medical staff in the country, the university has retained its position as the leading medical school in Malaysia.

The institution offers bachelor’s degrees right through to doctoral qualifications across a range of other fields including linguistics, accountancy, engineering, law and economics. UM is divided into 12 faculties, two academies and three academic centres. The institution also collaborates with various universities with the United Kingdom, Japan, France and Australia.


4.University of the Philippines

The University of the Philippines is a non-profit public higher education institution in the rural setting of the large city of Quezon City, National Capital Region. Established since 1908, the institution is composed of 7 constituent universities and one autonomous college scattered across the island nation.

It also runs several centres of research, most of which have been declared by the Commission on Higher Education(CHED) as National Centers of Excellence. The main focus of the University of the Philippines are forestry, agriculture, marine sciences, architecture, biotechnology programmes and environmental studies.


5.Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman

Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman(UTAR) is a non-profit, private university that was established in June 2002. UTAR is located on two sites, one in Sungai Long, Selangor and the second in Kampar, Perak. The institution comprises of 9 faculties, 3 academic institutes, 3 academic centres and 32 research centres.

The university also has extensive academic collaborations with institutions from Taiwan, Hong Kong, mainland China and other parts of the globe as well. Highly regarded as one of the fastest developing private higher education institutions in the country with outstanding growth in all aspects of its development since its inception.


6.University of Indonesia

University of Indonesia(UI) is the oldest institution in Indonesia located in Depok, West Java and Salemba, Jakarta. As the oldest tertiary-level institution in the country, UI is generally considered as the most prestigious universities in Indonesia. The university’s library is listed as the largest in Southeast Asia with a capacity of 1.5 million books. The institute of higher education specialised in medicine specifically for the education of doctors.

UI main research activities conducted are comprised of technology, science, humanity and social sciences which are well funded by the government as well as multinational industries. Most students are able to enjoy the benefits from the low cost of living expenses which the campus is located in the bordering area of Jakarta and West Java.


7.University Kebangsaan Malaysia

Ranked third among the top universities in Malaysia is Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia(UKM) located in Bandar Baru Bangi, Selangor. The founding faculties in UKM are comprised of Science & Technology, Social Science & Humanities and Islamic Studies. The institution also has a graduate school on its main campus and a medical school.


8.Mahidol University

Established since 1888, Mahidol University(MU) is Thailand’s first medical school and currently operating as a public research university with an emphasis on health sciences. MU offers a wide range of graduate and undergraduate programs from natural sciences to liberal arts with other remote campuses located across various provinces in Thailand. MU is comprised of 17 faculties, 6 colleges, 9 research institutes and 6 campuses that cover three core academic areas in Health Sciences, Science & Technology and Social Sciences & Humanities.


9.Universiti Sains Malaysia

Universiti Sains Malaysia(USM) is the second oldest university in Malaysia and regarded as one of the country’s top research centres. It has three campuses, the main campus is located on the island of Penang, a health campus in Kelantan and an engineering campus based in Nibong Tebal. Founded in 1969 as a statutory body with its own constitution, the institution is comprised of 23 academic schools and 14 centres.

Its main focus in the growth of higher education is in the fields of Natural Sciences, Applied Sciences, Medical & Health Sciences, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Building Sciences & Technology, Social Sciences and Humanities. USM is the only university that runs the Accelerated Programme for Excellence(APEX) to propel the university to be one of the top institutions of higher learning in the world.


10.Universiti Teknologi Malaysia

Established since 1972, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia(UTM) is an engineering and technology-focused public institution. UTM is based in Skudai, Johor and its second campus located in Kuala Lumpur. There are other faculties which are dedicated to Sciences, Biosciences, Medical Engineering, Management and Human Resources as well. UTM is the first gamification centre to support interactive digital teaching and learning in Malaysia.


If you would like to discover more of the top universities in the world, check out the World University Ranking 2019 for the full table. Leave us your thoughts on the comment sections below. Head over to and unveil your next job opportunity.

You Jing is a content writer who writes career and lifestyle contents to inspire job seekers and employers alike on their journey to work-life balance, empowerment and transformation in their career path.

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