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QS University Rankings: BRICS – Methodology

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Launched in 2013, the QS University Rankings: BRICS is designed to highlight the top universities in the five BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

The project, developed by QS in collaboration with Russian news agency Interfax, emerged from a desire to better highlight and track progress made by each of the five BRICS countries in the higher education field, and to facilitate comparison of universities in nations that share certain key socio-economic dynamics.

With these aims in mind, and following extensive consultation with experts in each country, eight indicators were selected to be used in the methodology. Some are the same as those used to create the overall QS World University Rankings®, while others are included to reflect priorities and challenges that are more specific to universities in the BRICS countries, such as recruiting more highly qualified academic staff. As with all of the university rankings produced by QS, the indicators attempt to assess universities’ performance in four key areas: research, teaching, employability and international outlook.

The eight indicators used to create the BRICS ranking are:

1. Academic reputation (30%) 

This is based on analysis of QS’s major global survey of academics, who are asked to identify the top-performing universities in their own field of expertise.

2. Employer reputation (20%)

Similarly, this is based on a major global survey of graduate employers, who are asked to identify the universities they perceive as producing the best graduates.

3. Faculty/student ratio (20%) 

This is based on the number of students enrolled per full-time academic faculty member employed. The aim is to give an indication of commitment to teaching and student support.

4. Staff with a PhD (10%)

Based on the proportion of academic staff members with a PhD, this indicator aims to assess how successful universities have been in recruiting highly qualified faculty members – a major priority for many institutions in the BRICS countries.

5. Papers per faculty (10%)

Calculated using data from Scopus, this indicator assesses research productivity, based on the number of research papers published per academic staff member.

6. Citations per paper (5%) 

Again calculated using the Scopus database, this indicator aims to assess research impact, based on the frequency with which an institution’s research is cited by other researchers.

7. International faculty (2.5%)

This score reflects the percentage of faculty members at the university who are international, to show how successful each institution has been in attracting academics from further afield.

8. International students (2.5%) 

Similarly, this indicator reflects the percentage of students enrolled at the university who are international, giving a further indication of each institution’s global appeal.

Written by Laura Bridgestock

The editor of, Laura oversees the site's editorial content and student forums. She also edits the QS Top Grad School Guide and contributes to market research reports including How Do Students Use Rankings?

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1. How certain Indian private Universities are ranked at the BOTTOM by QS and the same universities are awarded "A" grade by National Assessment and Accreditation Council (an autonomous body of Indian government)

2. How National Assessment and Accreditation Council (an autonomous body of Indian government) awards a private university as "A" grade and the Institute affiliated to is very poor in infrastructure and research?

Hi Unni, our world rankings include the world's top 800 universities meaning that while a national university might be fairly well reputed and highly ranked on a national scale, it may not feature in our world rankings due to intense international competition. For this reason we have our regional rankings (e.g. QS University Rankings: Asia 2015) allowing greater emphasis on leading schools in the region.

Often it's good to look at rankings as well as local information as this can give a broader picture of the school, but external research is also helpful particularly if you are getting contradictory information from rankings. See our methodology to find out what the Asia rankings are based on.

I hope this helps,


I am really feel honor to go through the rankings of the universities.Good job by QS. Thanks for giving me this opportunity.

Great, thanks for the positive feedback Mohammad! We're really pleased whenever we hear the rankings have been helpful and/or interesting for someone, thanks so much for letting us know!

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