South Korea’s Seoul National University (SNU) has topped Reuters’ ranking of Asia Pacific’s Most Innovative Universities, unseating three-time No. 1, KAIST, formerly known as the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, which dropped to second place.

Korea’s POSTECH held on to third position, while China’s Tsinghua University went up one place to number four, while Japan’s University of Tokyo was pushed down three spots to number five, in the ranking compiled in partnership with Clarivate Analytics.

That brings four South Korean universities into the top 10, while another three spots are taken up Japanese universities.

The 10 most innovative universities in Asia Pacific for 2019:

1. Seoul National University, SOUTH KOREA 2. Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST), SOUTH KOREA 3. Pohang University of Science & Technology (POSTECH), SOUTH KOREA 4. Tsinghua University, CHINA 5. University of Tokyo, JAPAN 6. Osaka University, JAPAN 7. Kyoto University, JAPAN 8. National University of Singapore, SINGAPORE 9. Sungkyunkwan University, SOUTH KOREA 10. Peking University, CHINA

The list identifies and ranks the educational institutions doing the most to advance science, invent new technologies, and power new markets and industries. This includes published articles in academic journals, patents filed with the World Intellectual Property Organization, and evaluation on 10 metrics.

Analysis of the rankings

Japanese institutions returning to the list in 2019 fell an average of 5.1 places year over year; only six institutions on the list fell by more than 10 places, and four of them were Japanese.

Meanwhile, Chinese institutions were up overall, gaining an average of about one spot. Two Chinese schools climbed more than 10 places, and China is home to the only new university on the list, the Beijing University of Posts & Telecommunications (No. 53).

Overall, China has 28 universities on the list, including three in Hong Kong; Japan and South Korea both have 19 universities; Australia has five; Singapore has two; and New Zealand has one.

Only one Indian university appears on the list, the Indian Institutes of Technology (#75). IIT is a network of 23 universities which centralises its patent administration, so it's not always possible to identify which constituent university was responsible for what research.

As a result, Reuters ranked the entire system as opposed to individual universities, so campuses like IIT Delhi may have ranked much higher if they weren’t grouped in with smaller and newer institutes.


Lead image / StockUnlimited  Graphic / Reuters