QS University Rankings: BRICS to be launched in Beijing

The annual QS BRICS Conference will take place on the 18th of June in China, in Beijing. The 2014 QS University Rankings: BRICS will be launched during the opening session of the event. To register click here.  Join higher education leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa to discuss institutional development, internationalization, student and academic mobility, academic recruitment and research collaboration.  Read more

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World’s first dedicated BRICS university ranking

The concept of the BRICS arouses strong emotions, and has been doing so since Jim O’Neill, then of Goldman Sachs, launched the term in 2001. You may well ask what sense it makes to group Brazil, India, China and Russia together as a single unit.  They vary widely in population, culture and history, and nobody would mistake Siberia for Rio at this time of year.

Things have now become even more complex, with the addition of South Africa to the generally accepted definition. Its extraordinary history, underlined by the recent death of Nelson Mandela, adds yet again to the diversity of the BRICS.What is more, it has less than 5 per cent the population of China. In addition, further nations such as Nigeria, Indonesia and Turkey are often proposed as possible extra members of the group.

The thing that marks out the BRICS is the way in which they are trying to develop economically without copying the path taken by Europe, the US and Japan. Because an advanced higher education system is an essential part of this process, the relative strength of their universities is of vital importance. At QS, we have now produced a ranking that allows their academic prowess to be compared directly.

Working in partnership with RAI Novosti in Russia, we ranked the top 100 BRICS universities on eight criteria. Five will be familiar to anyone who knows the QS World University Rankings. They are academic and employer opinion; faculty/student ratio; and the percentage of international faculty and students. However, we weight international faculty and students less heavily here than in the World Rankings, because none of the BRICS nations is yet a significant attractor for globally mobile talent.

The other three criteria we applied, developed in consultation with experts in the BRICS nations, are faculty members with a PhD; the number of papers published per faculty member; and the frequency with which their papers are cited. As with the World University Rankings, the publishing and citations data comes from the Elsevier Scopus database.

This ranking shows that China lead the BRICS as a world higher education power, with seven of the top 10 institutions and 40 of the top 100. This result is achieved without including the highly-rated universities of Hong Kong, which we regard as being too connected to the UK and the US to include in a BRICS analysis.

However, we also find that academic excellence is widespread in the five BRICS nations. Russia’s leading university, Moscow State, is third, and Brazil has two top ten entrants, Sao Paulo and Unicamp. The top South African university is Cape Town in 11th place, while five of the Indian Institutes of Technology occupy positions between 13 and 18.

The full table  shows some areas in which we might expect the BRICS universities to improve in future years, such as scholarly publishing in the case of Russian universities. We also find low faculty/student ratios in China and India. The pressure of applicant numbers on the higher education systems in both of these countries suggests that this will be a problem issue for the foreseeable future.

This is the first time we have published a BRICS ranking. We welcome response and opinion via the web site, especially from readers in the BRICS countries.


QS University Rankings: BRICS to play important role for Russia’s universities

The new BRICS ranking compiled by QS will play an important role in making Russia’s universities more internationally competitive, the country’s Education Minister said at the launch of the exercise in Moscow.

Russia’s education ministry commissioned the ranking, which was the first bespoke comparison of universities in Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Three ministers spoke at the two-day launch event, which was organised by the Interfax news agency, the publishers of the ranking.

Dmitry Livanov, the Minister of Education and Science, said he had supported the initiative to produce a BRICS ranking and believed it would be an important step towards greater international collaboration. “Any ranking is a marketing instrument,” he said. “But at the same time I believe it is important to use the results to compare performance and encourage innovation and mobility.”

Russia was ninth in the world for the number of students educated abroad and more than 100,000 foreign students were now being educated in the country. “Our target is to increase the attractiveness of our universities,” Mr Livanov said. “We want to be a more active player in the global market in higher education.”

Alexander Povalko, the Deputy Minister of Education and Science, said the ranking would provide valuable information at a time when 15 universities had been chosen to receive extra funding to enhance their international competitiveness. “Selection was not a once-and-for-all decision,” he said. “We cannot deprive others of the chance to move forward. There will be a rotation mechanism.”

Dr Yaroslav Kuzminov, Rector of the NRU Higher School of Economics, said the BRICS ranking was valuable because the countries concerned included three – Brazil, China and Russia – that had national languages used outside their borders. As such, they were global players but also leaders of sub-systems.

However, Victor Sadovnichy, Rector of Lomonosov Moscow State University, said rankings tended to judge universities in terms of science and technology when many Russian universities excelled in the humanities. “A picture with five or six pixels is hard to understand,” he said.

Moscow State, which was third in the BRICS ranking, also led a separate ranking of CIS and former Soviet universities produced by Interfax without QS involvement. Belarus State University sprung a surprise by taking second place, ahead of St Petersburg State University.

Mr Livinov said the Russian government did not regard rankings as the most important factor in judging international competitiveness among the country’s universities. But it would continue to encourage universities to submit data to add to the available information.



No better time to look at BRICS universities

Since Jim O’Neill, former chief economist at Goldman Sachs, coined the acronym “BRIC” in 2001 to describe four of the world’s fastest growing economies (namely Brazil, Russia, India and China), the BRIC countries have been under scrutiny, and has even been the subject of a forum organised by Columbia University, which they labelled BRICLAB. BRIC added an S in 2010 when South Africa joined the group. These five countries, making up more than 40% of the world’s total population, have reached a point where their further economic development is strongly correlated with the way they build quality higher education systems.

In fact, earlier this year, a comparative study of the BRICS higher education systems by Stanford scholars was published. University Expansion in a Changing Global Economy: Triumph of the BRICs? takes a close look at how the massive higher education expansion in Brazil, Russia, India and China is having a significant impact on the world supply of university graduates – particularly engineers and computer scientists. This expansion may also shift, at least partially, the locus of future development in the global knowledge economy towards the BRICS countries.

Perhaps a sign of the important role the BRICS are increasingly playing in matters of education, Ministers of Education from the five BRICS countries agreed to join forces with UNESCO to support education progress globally through coordinated actions and advocacy during a landmark consultation organized on the margins of the 37th Session of UNESCO’s General Conference in Paris this past November. UNESCO’s Director-General said at the opening of the consultation:
“Your countries have enormous potential individually to influence global education trends – this power is multiplied through collective action, through the experience you can share, through your growing roles as development partners, and through the new approaches you are developing for international cooperation.”

This is why there is perhaps no better time to look at the BRICS countries from a university rankings perspective. QS has been publishing a global university ranking – QS World University Rankings since 2004, and two regional rankings – QS Asian University Rankings since 2009 and QS Latin America Rankings since 2011. In December 2013, QS, in conjunction with the Russian news agency Interfax, will launch its first BRICS University Rankings. The BRICS will undoubtedly play a crucial role in tomorrow’s higher education landscape; however, they will also have to tackle massive challenges, such as quality education for all as only a minority of students go to the elite institutions that are considered world-class.

Find out the results of the first BRICS University Rankings on 17th December 2013 on In the meantime, please find more information on this post or on to register for the QS BRICS University Forum in Moscow on 17-18th December.


First ranking of BRICS countries- out 17th December

QS is to publish the first bespoke ranking for universities in the so-called BRICS countries next month.

Like its other regional rankings, the one for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa will have measures and weightings designed specifically for the group of countries concerned, rather than simply representing an edited version of previously published results.

In order to make valid comparisons between more universities than have precise positions in the QS World University rankings, and to reflect common priorities in the five countries, the new ranking will contain eight measures. They will include the proportion of staff with a PhD and the number of papers published per faculty member.

QS has worked with Interfax, the Russian news agency, to produce the new ranking. Interfax was commissioned by Russia’s Ministry of Education and Science, earlier this year and chose QS to compile the ranking because of its experience with regional and subject comparisons. The ministry has ceded control of the design of the ranking and any editorial content. The results of the pilot study will be presented at a conference in Moscow on December 17.

The ranking has also been discussed with India’s Minister for Human Resources and Development, Dr ShashiTharoor, and the Education Secretary, Ashok Thakur. Both are encouraging Indian institutions to participate in and submit data to international rankings to see if such comparisons can help them.

Dr Juliana Bertazzo, Higher Education Policy Adviser and coordinator of the Brazilian project ‘Science without Borders’, as well as Dr Renato Prado Guimarães, Secretary General at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, were also supportive of the new project, which will highlight the strengths of the universities of these emerging markets.

More than 400 universities across the five countries have been assessed for the new ranking. Only the top 100 will appear in the initial publication.

The methodology will be similar to those used for QS’s regional rankings for Asia and Latin America. Academic reputation will be the most heavily-weighted indicator, but at less than the 40 per cent weighting it receives in the QS World University Rankings.

Ben Sowter, who is responsible for the exercise as head of the QS Intelligence Unit, said the results would be valuable because the five nations had comparable characteristics that led to the development of the “BRICS” term in the first place. The company did not intend to include other emerging nations with few similarities simply because it had the capability to do so.

Jim O’Neill, who coined the term as chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, said this month that the group remained a valid point of comparison, although Indonesia could have been included. Between them, they already represented a bigger market than the United States and would play important roles in the future, he said in a speech in London.

QS is to work with the Indian Centre for Assessment & Accreditation (ICAA), a private accreditation body, on a separate evaluation of Indian universities to be published next year. Dr Arun Nigavekar, the ICAA’s founder and a former chairman of the University Grants Commission, said the aim for Indian exercise was to create a system that was “globally accepted, yet locally grounded”.

QS and Interfax Group to launch first BRICS university ranking



QS has been appointed by Interfax Group, a leading information provider in Russia and emerging “Eurasian” nations, to produce the world’s first university ranking of the “BRICS” countries.

The “QS University Rankings: BRICS”, as the ranking will be named, has received support from ministries of education and higher education institutions around the world. As one of the most trusted independent university ranking organisations, experienced in both global and regional rankings, QS was Interfax Group’s natural choice of partner for the project.

The new ranking was fostered by Russia’s ministry of education; following Russian president Vladimir Putin’s announcement (May 2012) to have at least five of the country’s universities in the top 100 in global university rankings by 2020.

Interfax Group was chosen out of five bidders to launch two new pilot rankings. The first will include only universities from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS),the second ranking is a “BRICS” nation ranking, which will include the universities of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa; this will be a joint project between QS and Interfax Group.

Zoya Zaitseva, project director for QS University Rankings: BRICS says: “The BRICS nations are investing heavily in higher education, research and development as they recognize that creating knowledge and nurturing talents is essential to fuel the growth of their rapidly-expanding economies. The new ranking will increase their visibility and allow these universities to become more recognized on a global level.”

Dr. Mrs. Indu Shahani, Member  of the University Grants Commission, India and visiting faculty member at the UC Berkeley and NYU Stern says: “I’m delighted to be associated with the pilot of the QS University Rankings: BRICS. There is a strong belief among academics that this will create a new benchmark for young students as well as help raise the profile and global visibility of good Indian universities.”

She adds: “BRICS nations are accustomed to research studies on economic and political areas but this kind of educational research initiative based is a first and should be well received by Indian universities.”

Results of the first QS University Rankings: BRICS will be announced at the Interfax and QS BRICS University Forum in Moscow on 17th December 2013 and published on on the same day.


France and international students – a perspective

In the current context of internationalization and increased competition between universities and countries, attracting international students is a major challenge all countries have to take – including France. France has already an excellent potential since it is the 4th country with the most international students, after the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia – and the 1st non-English-speaking country, before Germany[1]. This trend is confirmed by the latest QS World University Rankings. Unsurprisingly, French universities perform the best in the International Students index, with 15 institutions in the top 200 in this indicator. This is opposed to only five French universities in the top 200 for the overall rankings.

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