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QS University Rankings: BRICS 2015 – Overview

QS University Rankings: BRICS 2015 – Overview main image

Released today, the 2015 edition of the QS University Rankings: BRICS reflects the increasingly strong global presence of leading Chinese universities – with the top three spots going to C9 members Tsinghua University, Peking University and Fudan University.

While all five BRICS countries are represented within the top 20, China’s dominance is clear throughout the ranking. Driven by strong performance in the two global reputational surveys, of academics and employers, Chinese universities take seven of the top 10 spots and almost half of the top 50.

With 53 institutions in the top 200, Russia is second only to China, which has 67 universities featured. Yet only seven Russian institutions make the top 50, compared to China’s 21, Brazil’s 10, and India’s nine.

Russia’s leading entrant, Lomonosov Moscow State University, falls one position this year, but retains a highly respectable fourth place. India’s top representative, the Indian Institute of Science Bangalore, follows immediately behind in fifth. Brazil makes its first appearance with the Universidade de São Paulo in ninth place, while South Africa’s leader is the University of Cape Town in 14th – both having fallen slightly since last year.

Continued high levels of investment and ambition

Now in its third annual edition, the QS University Rankings: BRICS was developed to track the relative progress of leading universities in the five fast-developing BRICS countries – all of which have made investment in higher education and research high national priorities.

As a recent OECD report showed, China now spends more on research and development than any country other than the US. It’s forecast to overtake the entire European Union and the US on this measure by the end of the current decade, with a national target of investing 2.5% of GDP on research by this point.

Meanwhile recent years have seen the Russian government step up efforts to internationalize its higher education, with a focus on gaining ground in the global rankings. More than 10 billion roubles (US$300m) has been committed in grants for leading Russian universities, with the Council on Global Competitiveness Enhancement of Russian Universities established to monitor progress and guide the project.

India likewise has its eye on the international stage, with the government’s “brain gain” policy aspiring to establish 14 world-class universities. Setting itself up as a worthy rival for China in terms of research production, the Indian Institute of Science Bangalore submitted ranking data for the first time this year – entering the BRICS ranking in fifth place, with the largest number of papers published per faculty member and strong scores across other indicators.

Tracking relative rates of progress

Collectively accounting for more than 40% of the world’s population and over a quarter of global landmass, the BRICS group are highly diverse in their national cultures and historical contexts, but significantly aligned in their strategies for economic development. Since the acronym was coined – originally BRIC in 2001, with South Africa added in 2010 – the group’s members have increasingly been viewed not just as competitors but also collaborators, as demonstrated by this week’s BRICS Summit, the seventh such annual event.

The QS University Rankings: BRICS is based on eight key performance indicators, relating to global reputation, internationalization, academic staff levels, and research production and impact. This year more than 500 universities in the BRICS countries were considered for inclusion, with the top 200 published. The online ranking table can be sorted to compare universities either overall, or on each of these eight criteria.

For in-depth analysis of this year’s results and national trends, the digital supplement is available to read online. Join the conversation on Twitter with #QSWUR. 

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Written by Laura Bridgestock
The former editor of TopUniversities.com, Laura oversaw the site's editorial content and student forums. She also edited the QS Top Grad School Guide and contributed to market research reports, including 'How Do Students Use Rankings?'

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