Top five: Universities in Southeast Asia

By: Southeast Asia Globe Editorial - Posted on: October 21, 2013 | Singapore

Singapore and Thailand lead the way when it comes to universities in Southeast Asia

Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

The biggest engineering faculty in the world, NTU’s college of engineering houses six schools and has about 16,000 students and almost 2,000 faculty and staff members. Also home to colleges of business, science, humanities, arts, social sciences and, as of this year, medicine, its 200-hectare Yunnan Garden campus was the Youth Olympic Village for the world’s first Summer Youth Olympics in 2010. Earlier this year, NTU found itself in hot water when it denied tenure to associate professor Cherian George, a journalist and prominent critic of Singapore’s strict media controls.


Photo by AFP
Photo by AFP


National University of Singapore

Founded in 1905, NUS is the premier university in Southeast Asia. Acclaimed for being the region’s frontrunner in higher education, it faced controversy in August when it launched a joint project with Yale University from the US. The two schools opened a liberal arts college in Singapore, saying there was demand for “critical thinking” in the city-state. The college will build upon NUS’s intense focus on high-impact research and aims to equip its graduates with the skills and knowledge to address issues critical to humanity. Through effective industry and government collaborations and its extensive research infrastructure, NUS has set itself apart from the pack.


Mahidol University, Thailand

Last month, a team of biomedical engineering students from MU landed an award at the 7th International Convention on Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology in South Korea. The competition looked for innovations to aid senior citizens and those with disabilities. The bright young minds engineered a device that could help patients affected by stroke, nerve compression and other ailments to walk. The win is in line with MU’s impressive history: the oldest institution of higher learning in Thailand, the medical school granted its first degree in 1893 and today its many faculties boast the most doctoral programs of any institution in Thailand.


Chulalongkorn University, Thailand

Former US presidents Lyndon Johnson and Bill Clinton, as well as human rights icon Nelson Mandela, have each been granted honorary degrees by CU. With 19 faculties and institutions currently in place, the university began as a training centre for royal pages who often went on to work for government ministries after learning how to administer organisations through working closely with the king. Diplomas from CU were traditionally handed out at graduation by the King of Thailand, initiated by King Rama VII. Today, King Rama IX entrusts the role to his daughter, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.


King Mongkut’s University of Technology THONBURI, Thailand

Commonly referred to as ‘Bangmod’ due to its locality, KMUTT’s earliest roots lie with the Thonburi Technical College, which was established in 1960. Its current-day name is in tribute to King Rama IV, who is known as the father of science in Thailand. Along with five other Thai universities, KMUTT last month began formulating a curriculum based on rail-transport engineering in response to the government’s $69.4 billion infrastructure overhaul plan, which includes the need for more than 17,000 engineers and technicians.


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