China has taken a majority of the top spots in the latest Times higher education Asia university rankings. Tsinghua University and Peking University took the top two positions for the second consecutive year.

Fifteen universities from the China mainland took 15 positions in the top 50 list, while 31 universities were among the top 100. China had more universities on the list of 551 universities than any other Asia country. The list ranked universities from 30 Asian countries and regions.  

Most of the 91 China universities improved their positions from last year. The publication said the improvement was "an impressive feat" for the world's second-largest economy given the addition of 62 universities on the list compared with 2020.

"After becoming the first-ever country or region to secure the top two positions in the rankings last year, it is an excellent achievement for the Chinese mainland to do so again. While we have witnessed consistent progress from Chinese mainland's institutions in these rankings, it is remarkable to see the overwhelming majority of its institutions improve or maintain their previous positions with record numbers at the top end of the table," the report said.

Tsinghua University was No. 1 the third consecutive year after gaining the position in 2019. Peking University was No. 2 for the second consecutive year. China became the best-represented country in the top 50 after Central South University and South China University of Technology moved up in ranking this year.

Ten mainland universities made their debut this year - the second-highest number of debutants by any country below India, which had 14 debutants. A record 91 universities in mainland China had qualified for the Times Higher Education Asia University Rankings 2021, the second-highest number below Japan, which had 116 universities qualify for the list.

The publication said China had significantly improved its higher education system as part of its national initiative to accelerate innovation.

"It will be interesting to see what happens in Chinese mainland over the coming years, and how its universities adapt to the post-COVID world," the report said.