27 junho 2013

Brazil Tops the 2013 QS World University Rankings: Latin America

Brazil has retained its position as Latin America’s leading center of higher education in the latest QS rankings for the region.

With two of the top three universities in the ranking and 11 of the top 30, Brazil‘s domination is even more complete than last year. The size of the country’s higher education system, together with strong recent investment, leaves it well ahead of its rivals.

Universidade de São Paulo (USP) remains narrowly ahead of Chile’s Pontificia Universidad Católica at the head of the ranking, with Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp) in third place. USP topped the employers’ poll and was the most visible university on the web, as well as performing strongly on the other indicators. It moved up 30 places in the 2012 QS World University Rankings, breaking into the top 150 for the first time.

At a forum on international mobility held in February, Leandro Tessler, an associate professor and adviser to the president of Unicamp, said that poor English and resistance to English-taught programs represented the biggest obstacle to the competitiveness of Latin American universities. He saw intra-regional mobility and the establishment of joint and dual degree programs between Brazilian and European universities as more positive trends.

Brazil’s higher education landscape
Brazil has 28 of the top 100 universities in Latin America and no fewer than 77 feature in the top 300 places. Most have either improved or held their position since last year.

At the top of the table, the most progress has been made by Universidade Estadual Paulista "Júlio de Mesquita Filho", which has moved up three places to enter the top 10. Further down, Universidade Federal de Goiás has leapt almost 30 places to appear in the top 100 for the first time.

The Brazilian government is investing heavily in the country’s students and researchers, both at its own institutions and elsewhere in the world. Its flagship program, Science Without Borders, promises to send up to 100,000 undergraduates and postgraduates overseas by 2014. Host countries include France, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Within Brazil, there are now more than 6.5 million higher education students, about 1 million of them in federal institutions and 620,000 in state institutions. Nearly three-quarters of all Brazilian students, some 5 million in all, are enrolled in private institutions, most of them for-profit.

The government has also focused on widening participation in higher education, which remains free for students of any nationality. In August 2012 the Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff, signed a bill requiring all federal universities to reserve half of the places in each degree program for students from public schools, giving preference to those from poor families and from black and other ethnic groups.

Tracking progress at Brazilian universities

The latest salary research by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development showed that the earnings premium enjoyed by graduates over non-graduates in Brazil to be the highest in the world. The gap had continued to widen between 2009 and 2010.

However, Brazil still ranked only 41st out of leading 50 countries for the strength of its higher education system in an analysis produced for the Universitas 21 network. The controversial ranking aggregates data on higher education spending with a range of other measures including the proportions of female staff and students, the “policy and regulatory environment”, digital connectivity and research output.

The Brazilian Ministry of Education conducts one of the world’s biggest quality assurance exercises to benchmark standards. The latest General Courses Index (IGC) covered 8,665 courses at 1,387 of the country’s universities and colleges, finding overall improvement without considering that performance had yet reached a satisfactory level.

The exercise covered only a small part of Brazilian higher education, concentrating on courses in science, education and some areas of technology. The IGC process will reach all subject areas on a three-year cycle, although it does not cover private institutions. When scores for all courses are combined, Unicamp appears top in the IGC reckoning.

Research quality and quantity has also been improving in Brazil. The Thomson Reuters report, "Building Bricks: Exploring the Global Research and Innovation Impact of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Korea", found that Brazilian research output is highest in the life sciences, while its top research strengths, measured by citation impact, are in physics, mathematics and engineering.

Leia mais aqui (em inglês)

Ainda: Universidade Estadual Paulista "Júlio de Mesquita Filho" (11); Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (14); Unifesp (17); PUC Rio de Janeiro (18); Universidade de Brasília (21); PUC São Paulo (28); Universidade Federal de São Carlos (29); UERJ (35); UFPR (37); PUC Rio Grande do Sul (41); Universidade Federal do Pernambuco (43); Universidade Federal Fluminense (47); Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (49).

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