The Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has been ranked fifth among Asia's top universities, while the National University of Singapore (NUS) retained third place in the latest rankings by Times Higher Education.
NTU returned to the top five after finishing sixth last year as NUS continued its stay in the top three. Both universities have held top 10 positions since 2015. NTU was No. 5 in 2018.
The top 10 universities in Asia were dominated by those in China and Hong Kong, with Tsinghua University and Peking University clinching the first and second spots respectively while the University of Hong Kong retained fourth place.
This is the third year running with Tsinghua University at the top.
Other universities on the list include the University of Tokyo in sixth place, Seoul National University in ninth and Kyoto University in 10th, having climbed two places after ranking 12th last year.
This year's rankings, which were released yesterday, comprise 551 universities from 30 countries and regions, up from 489 last year.
Times Higher Education assessed the universities based on 13 performance indicators grouped into five areas: teaching (the learning environment), research (volume, income and reputation), citations (research influence), international outlook (staff, students and research) and industry income (knowledge transfer).
Mr Phil Baty, chief knowledge officer of the publication, said the higher number of participants highlights the competitiveness in Asia.
He added: "It will be interesting to see what happens in the region over the coming years, and how universities across Asia adapt to the post-Covid-19 world.
"Despite the difficulties caused by Covid-19, there may be an opportunity for Asian universities to attract and retain more regional students and academic staff."
NUS noted that the pandemic has accelerated the push for universities to transform and enhance their contributions to society.
An NUS spokesman said: "We have been sharpening our graduates' competencies and preparing them to be more agile and adaptable by intensifying our focus on interdisciplinary, experiential and cross-cultural learning, alongside our efforts in lifelong learning initiatives." The spokesman added that NUS has strengthened its research capabilities as it innovates to find solutions to pressing local and global challenges.
Professor Ling San, deputy president and provost of NTU, said its climb up the Asia University Rankings was driven by its strong performance in citations and industry income indicators. Despite the pandemic last year, NTU remained actively engaged in industry collaborations and research, such as developing rapid test kits.
"The university's achievement is the result of the hard work and concerted efforts of the NTU community to achieve the university's mission and objectives. Educating and training the next generation of thinkers, innovators, leaders and lifelong learners is central to our mission," said Prof Ling.