Brazil’s Sao Paulo University, USP, ranks as the top higher education institution in Latin America according to a list published by QS, and which includes universities from Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Argentina.
USP is followed by Chile’s Catholic University, Brazil’s Campinas State University (Unicamp), University of Chile and Mexico’s National Autonomous University, UNAM.
The London based organization QS ranking list of the top ten continues with the University of the Andes (Colombia); Monterrey Technological Institute (Mexico); the University of Buenos Aires; the National University Colombia and the Minas Gerais Federal University, Brazil.
The report was elaborated on the basis of seven specific indicators for Latin America which assess among other conditions research quality, commitment to teaching and percentage of professors with PhDs.
Brazil dominates the first ranking of Latin American universities with 65 institutions among the first 200, followed by Mexico with 35, Argentina and Chile with 25 each and Colombia, 21.
Impressively three Brazilian universities are in the top 10; 8 in the top 20 and 31 in the top 100.
The list also includes 6 universities from Peru, 5 from Venezuela; 4 from Uruguay; 3 from Costa Rica, Cuba and Ecuador and one in Panama, Puerto Rico and Paraguay.
“Higher education has been earmarked as the engine-room to help Brazil fulfill its massive potential for economic growth, with enrolment tripling from two to six million in the last decade” points out Danny Byrne head of topuniveristies.com portal.
However, the rankings also show the extent to which Brazil has prioritized research. A remarkable eight of the top ten for papers per faculty are Brazilian, alongside nine of the top ten for the proportion of academic with a PhD.
Recent OECD figures show that education investment grew more in Brazil than in any other OECD nation from 2000-2008 (as a proportion of GDP). The same report shows that Brazilian graduates have comfortably the highest career earnings premium of any OECD nation, which suggests that a more educated workforce is already beginning to reap dividends for the economy as a whole.
A poll of Latin American academics named UNAM the region’s top institution for academic reputation, while Universidad de Buenos Aires was named by employers as the top producer of graduate talent.
However, USP overall strength saw it top the table, ranking as one of the top four institutions in all but one of the seven indicators.
Mexico is the second best-represented nation led by UNAM (5) and Tecnológico de Monterrey (ITESM) (7). The leading Mexican universities are highly regarded by both academics and employers throughout the region.
UNAM ranked number one in the academic reputation survey, while ITESM was the second best-placed university in the employer reputation survey. However, Mexican universities generally perform less well in the research measures. Just two Mexican universities make the top 50 for papers per faculty, with similar scores recorded for citations per paper.
The shift from public to private universities across the continent is reflected, with 21 private institutions making the top 50, led by second-placed Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. However, though these newer institutions may have accounted for a great deal of the expansion in participation across the region in recent years, the rankings indicate that traditional state-funded institutions retain the edge as the producers of cutting-edge research. Public universities occupy seven of the top ten positions overall, as well as all five of the top spots for academic reputation.
But in spite of the advance in the ranking of the top universities of the world which has Cambridge as number on, in last September’s list USP figured in position 169 and the only Latam higher education institution among the top 200.