Top Universities in Latin America 2015: USP Vs Unicamp | Top Universities
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Top Universities in Latin America 2015: USP Vs Unicamp

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Laura Bridgestock

Updated Apr 16, 2024
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This year’s QS University Rankings: Latin America sees the top two spots claimed by Brazilian rivals Universidade de São Paulo (USP) and Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp). Both have improved their positions by one place this year, pushing 2014’s leading institution – the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile – into third place. So how do these top two Brazilian universities compare, and what makes them the region’s higher education leaders?

As the table below shows, the two are closely matched in all of the seven indicators assessed in the QS University Rankings: Latin America. Each is rated among the region’s top 10 by both academics and employers, and they’re among Latin America’s most significant players online, reflected in their leading scores for “web impact”, based on the Webometrics ranking.

These are also Latin America’s two leading producers of research (in terms of papers published per faculty member), and high research production rates are supported by high proportions of staff members with a PhD or equivalent.

However, both USP and Unicamp have yet to see high publication rates translate into equally high levels of research impact (assessed by measuring citations per paper via Scopus). And while their faculty members are well-qualified, the ratio of full-time academic staff members to students enrolled is a relative weak point for both institutions.

Comparison based on the QS University Rankings: Latin America 2015

 

Universidade de São Paulo 
(USP)

Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp)

Academic reputation

2nd

6th

Employer reputation

4th

10th

Faculty/student ratio

94th

122nd

Papers per faculty

2nd

1st

Citations per paper

43rd

52nd

Staff with a PhD

2nd

3rd

Web impact

1st

6th

Overall ranking

1st

2nd

Compare more of the top universities in Latin America >

 

Subject strengths

Both of these two top universities in Latin America are well-ranked among the world’s best institutions across an impressive range of subjects. In the latest QS World University Rankings by Subject, USP features in 35 out of 36 tables, while Unicamp is ranked in 25 disciplines. They’re relatively equally matched in many areas, sharing several key strengths – both are ranked among the world’s top 20 for dentistry, and the top 30 for agriculture and forestry.

USP also stands out among the world’s top 50 universities for philosophy, architecture, civil and structural engineering, pharmacy and pharmacology and veterinary science, while Unicamp claims a further top-50 placing for electrical and electronic engineering.

Comparison based on the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2015

 

Universidade de São Paulo 
(USP)

Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp)

Arts & humanities

 

 

Art & design

51-100

51-100

English language & literature

201-250

--

Geography

51-100

101-150

History

51-100

51-100

Linguistics

101-150

51-100

Modern languages

51-100

51-100

Philosophy

37

51-100 

Engineering & technology

 

 

Architecture

33

--

Chemical engineering

51-100

51-100

Civil & structural engineering

47

151-200 

Computer science

51-100

51-100

Electrical & electronic engineering

51-100

47

Mechanical, aeronautical & manufacturing engineering

51-100

51-100

Life sciences & medicine

 

 

Agriculture & forestry

24

30

Biological sciences

101-150

151-200

Dentistry

12

17

Medicine

101-150

201-250

Pharmacy & pharmacology

46

51-100

Psychology

101-150

--

Veterinary science

36

--

Natural sciences

 

 

Chemistry

51-100

51-100

Earth & marine sciences

51-100

--

Environmental sciences

51-100

51-100

Materials sciences

51-100

101-150

Mathematics

51-100

51-100

Physics & astronomy

51-100

101-150

Social sciences

 

 

Accounting & finance

51-100

--

Business & management

51-100

--

Communication & media studies

51-100

--

Development studies

--

--

Economics & econometrics

101-150

--

Education

51-100

101-150

Law

51-100

--

Politics & international studies

51-100

101-150

Sociology

51-100

51-100

Statistics

51-100

101-150

 

Location

Both are large public universities, though the Universidade de São Paulo is significantly the larger of the two, with more than 70,000 students enrolled compared toapproximately 25,000 at the Universidade Estadual de Campinas.

While both are located in the Brazilian state of São Paulo, their respective locations offer distinct settings. USP’s main campus is within the center of São Paulo – Brazil’s largest city, and one of the most populous urban areas on the planet. The city comes with a warning for newcomers: expect to be overwhelmed at first! But its vast size is accompanied by a huge array of venues and activities, with cultural and recreational scenes to rival those anywhere in the world.

While most of the university’s facilities are based in central São Paulo, USP also has branches spread across the state, including campuses in Bauru, São Carlos, Lorena, Piracicaba, Pirassununga, Ribeirão Preto and São Sebastião.

Unicamp, as its name suggests, is based in the city of Campinas, around 100km to the north-west of São Paulo city center. Much smaller than São Paulo, Campinas nonetheless offers a full spectrum of urban activities, including several major theatres; dozens of galleries, museums and other cultural venues; and a number of sports stadiums.

So, USP or Unicamp: which would you choose – and why?

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