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China has increased its domination of the third edition QS BRICS ranking, its universities taking seven of the top ten places, including the top two. More than a quarter of the universities in the new and extended ranking – and 39 of the top 100 – are from China. Its representatives far outnumber those from any of the other four countries, particularly in the top half of the ranking.
Among the Top 200, 27 Brazilian universities among lost ground compared to last year, while 12 improved and one is a new entry. Nevertheless, Brazil has the same number of institution among the Top 50 and has one more in the Top 200, compared to 2014.
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The QS ranking of Latin American universities published in May 2015 shows that Brazil has the region’s top universities. This BRICS ranking confirms its status as a global higher education power. Brazil’s highest entrant is São Paulo, down two places this year to ninth, followed by Unicamp, down three places to 12th.
Top 10 universities in QS University Rankings: BRICS 2015
These rankings provide a number of pointers to Brazil’s place in the world of knowledge. Perhaps most important is the international flavour of its universities, which we capture by measuring their percentages of international faculty and students. This analysis for 2015 suggests that Brazil is far from being a magnet for internationally-mobile students, even by the modest standard of the BRICS nations. The best-placed Brazilian university for international students this year is the Pontifical Catholic University in Rio de Janeiro, but even this institution is 96th in the whole BRICS region on this measure. No other Brazilian university is in the BRICS top 100 here, and many are below 200.© QS Quacquarelli Symonds 2004-2015 www.TopUniversities.com
Matters improve massively when we look at international faculty rather than students. The Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul is the BRICS region’s number one on this measure and 16 Brazilian universities are in the top 100.
The international standing of Brazil’s university system is underlined by its research productivity. The Scopus database of academic publishing shows that Unicamp and Sao Paulo are 15th and 16th respectively in the BRICS region for research outputs per head, and there are 13 Brazilian universities in the top 100 on this measure. However, it is also notable that many less well-placed Brazilian universities have slipped back on this indicator since 2014.
Our other indicator of research success, based like the research productivity measure on information from the Scopus database, measures how often papers from each university are cited in the scholarly literature. São Paulo and Unicamp are 59th and 73nd in the BRICS region here, behind other Brazilian universities such as São Paulo Federal (UNIFEST) and Rio State University (UERJ). These two are 29 and 36 in the BRICS region on this measure. This finding suggests that Brazilian research still lacks global impact.
The most important of the eight measures that make up the BRICS ranking is our global survey of academic experts. It accounts for 30 per cent of each university’s possible score. And here there is good news for Brazil, with São Paulo and Unicamp in third and ninth place, ahead of their positions in the ranking overall. There are also 18 Brazilian universities in the top 100 for this measure. This suggests that despite their limited research impact, these universities are serious actors on the world stage, and are competing on this measure with China and the other BRICS powers.
São Paulo and Unicamp are also highly-placed in our survey of graduate recruiters, which accounts for 20 per cent of a university’s possible score in this ranking, in sixth and tenth place respectively. However, the next two Brazilian universities on this measure are in 36th and 38th place, marking this out as an area of weakness for Brazilian higher education. By contrast, there are five Chinese universities in the top 10 for employer opinion.
The final pair of measures we use to compile these rankings are intended to test the breadth and depth of a university’s academic offer. First we look at the percentage of each institution’s academic staff who have a PhD, the acknowledged certificate for a high-level scholarly career.
No fewer than seven Brazilian institutions turn out to have an essentially perfect score on this measure.
In addition, we look at the faculty/student ratio of universities around the world as a way of gauging the amount of quality contact students might have with staff, and as an indirect measure of possible class sizes. Here nobody can compete with Russia, which takes the top 11 places. But Brazilian universities show up well in the lower orders, with Universidade Estadual de Ponta Grossa in 13th place and 13 Brazilian universities in the top 100. As we see in nations around the world, elite universities are not always the best-resourced in staff terms. São Paulo is 155th in the BRICS on this measure and Unicamp comes in at 192.