A quick survey of universities around the world reveals that science and engineering are particularly popular fields with students from Asia. This is especially true at the postgraduate level, where the student population represents a kaleidoscope of nationalities but is decidedly weighted in favor of Asia.

This comes as no surprise. Asia was an incubator for science and technology at a time when Europe was still sorting out feudal hierarchy and religious wars. China’s famous ‘Four Great Inventions’ are the compass, gunpowder, papermaking and printing – all passed down from antiquity. India was just as prolific in the ancient world. As long ago as the 6th century BCE, Greek doctors were travelling to India to learn how to perform cataract surgery. And for the all the fuss that Western history books make over Europe’s discovery of the smallpox vaccine in the late 18th century, it appears that doctors in India may have already described a similar form of immunization more than 1,500 years earlier.

UEA University

Pic: UEA University.

When it comes to scientific breakthroughs and cutting-edge technologies, Asia is on the rise again and is gaining university clout in kind. At this point, well-established institutes of higher education are still concentrated in the West. But that isn’t stopping students in the Eastern hemisphere from moving halfway around the world to earn their credentials.

International study at the university level is a fast-growing phenomenon, and in many respects, Asia is leading the way. Last year, the BBC published a story indicating that 1.27 million Chinese students left the country to earn university credentials. China may be our most populous country, but it’s only one. Add the throngs of students from India, South Korea, Japan and South-East Asia, and the trend is undeniable. Tally it up and you’ll find that more than 50 percent of all international students studying abroad originate in Asia.

UEA students on campus

Pic: University of East Anglia students on campus.

World-class research
A range of motivating factors are driving Asian students to overseas schools of science, not least of which is the caliber of research conducted by some of the best schools in the West. An education with a leading university in Europe, Australia or North America comes bundled with the chance to join teams of scientists on the cutting-edge of 21st-century technology.

Indeed, major industry players around the world keep a close eye on schools of science, engineering and technology around the world. Breakthroughs in university labs translate into world-changing products, treatments and problem-solving approaches. With that in mind, multinational companies indicate to the world which universities are delivering some of the most promising research by channeling their sponsorship in that direction.

But there are other factors attracting Asian students to international universities. The chance to develop English proficiency is substantial, and this makes a candidate more marketable in virtually any profession. Likewise, anyone who has traveled overseas to earn a university degree has undoubtedly developed the skills needed to navigate complex social and cultural environments. Employers, government agencies and NGOs jump at the chance to work with people that possess these character traits.

Murdoch University laboratories

Pic: Murdoch University laboratories.

The following are among the leading schools of science for Asian students:

UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY SYDNEY – FACULTY OF SCIENCE
With more than two decades of university status behind it, the University of Technology Sydney is a leading contender for Asian students of science. It’s based out of Australia’s leading city and is driven by a singular vision: to be a world-leading institute of technology. ‘Innovation, creativity and technology’ is a mantra at this university, but all it takes is a tour of the research labs or the chance to tagalong on a field study to realize that these are more than mere buzzwords. At UTS, students are actively engaged in cutting-edge study and research that is shaping the pursuits of the next generation. Read the full profile here…

UTS Research Photo Joanne Saad

Father and son team, Professor Hung Nguyen and Jordan Nguyen were featured on Channel 10's The Project, and the ABC News with their smart wheelchair named TIM (Thought-controlled Intelligent Machine).Photo: Joanne Saad.

YORK UNIVERSITY – FACULTY OF SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING
In the heart of the greater Toronto, York University stands at the centre of Canada’s most multicultural and dynamic region. It’s known for its friendly and diverse student body, dedicated faculty and upstart attitude. As part of the third-largest University in Canada, students benefit from studying science or engineering in a diverse academic environment, in one of the country’s fastest-growing centres for learning and research. A truly supportive approach to learning enables students to achieve their goals, whether academic or professional. For Asian students pursuing a career in science, York is an ideal place to launch a dynamic career. Read the full profile here…

DEAKIN UNIVERSITY – FACULTY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Australia’s Deakin University is a public institution with more than 40,000 students enrolled across all programs. Comprehensive facilities and a university-wide research allowance of more than A$35 million per year make this an outstanding place to study science and technology. Couple this with Deakin’s position in the Asia-Pacific region, and it’s is easy to understand why so many students of science in Asia are eager to earn their credentials here. The Faculty of Science and Technolgy at Deakin draws its strength from its highly qualified faculty (many of whom have direct industry experience) as well as its commitment to industry partnerships. Close links with industry promote robust curriculum development and allow the faculty to maximize research opportunities. Read the full profile here…

Deakin University location

Pic: Deakin University location.

MURDOCH UNIVERSITY – SCHOOL OF BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES AND BIOTECHNOLOGY
Located just outside of Perth in the state of Western Australia, Murdoch University is a research-intensive university that’s playing an active role in the development of 21st-century knowledge, tools and technology with significant effect in Asia and around the world. Murdoch is a leading choice for Asian students with a passion for the sciences. Biology and Biotechnology form the main thrust of scientific endeavour at Murdoch. As such, students work extensively with organisms, genetics, ecosystems and conservation. Read the full profile here…

UNIVERSITY OF EAST ANGLIA – FACULTY OF SCIENCE
The University of East Anglia hosts more than 2,500 international students representing over 100 countries. Students from Asia with their sights sets on a career in science do well to consider UEA for its outstanding research, expert faculty and leading record of student satisfaction. Students play a vital role the faculty’s research, contributing to intellectual vitality and the institute’s international reputation. Two Nobel laureates have been connected to the university – Richard Synge and Sir Paul Nurse – both for their scientific contributions. Read the full profile here…

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
Regularly praised as one of the best public universities in the US, the University of Illinois is regarded as a ‘Public Ivy’. This means it provides what many consider to be an educational experience on par with those of the famous Ivy League schools in a public university context (and, by the same extension, at public university prices). U of I is a large university with several impressive science programs. These are organized under the College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, the College of Applied Health Sciences, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Graduate School of Library and Information Science.

York University

Pic: York University students on campus.

CHALMERS UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY
Chalmers University of Technology is a leading institute in Sweden and offers a dynamic European experience for Asian students in Europe. Around 40 percent of the postgraduate students at Chalmers hail from outside of national boundaries, guarantee ample opportunity to develop a worldwide network of peers and colleagues while studying here. Research conducted here is robust, especially in the areas of Life Science, Materials Science, Energy, the Built Environment, Information and Communication Technology and Nanoscience.

UNIVERSITY OF SASKATCHEWAN
The University of Saskatchewan in Canada has a student body of around 15,000 and contributes to some of the most influential research in the country. Research facilities are state-of-the-art, and students from U of S have had a hand in some truly remarkable breakthroughs in recent years. Take alumnus David Asper as an example. While studying at Chalmers, he invented a vaccine that made food and water safer for human consumption.