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July 23, 2014
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UBA slips in ranking led by Brazil, Chile

The UBA law school.

Assessment of regional universities differ widely, most place Buenos Aires institution in top 10

Buenos Aires University (UBA), the country’s most prestigious higher education institute, has continued to slide in the annual QS University Ranking of Latin American universities, falling seven spots to 19th, with improved performances from institutions in neighbouring countries like Brazil and Chile pushing it farther from the top 10.

The UK firm’s results contradict other rankings, the majority of which place UBA in the top 10 in the region and show significant variations in the performances of regional universities.

Despite having maintained an overall score similar to previous years, UBA fell from 12th spot in the QS 2013 list, having been ranked just outside the top 10 in 2012, slipping to 11th after ranking in eighth place in 2011.

QS is a relatively new player on the scene of global university rankings, and has presented some significant differences with others in terms of the performance of Latin American institutions. Unlike other rankings, it has a more qualitative focus, including class sizes, faculty numbers and perceptions of outside academics.

As in previous years, it scored just above 80 in the quality assessment that measures academic reputation, employer reputation, faculty/student ratio, and the number and reach of academic papers, among other indicators.

The drop in ranking, while significant, seems not to reflect the UBA’s overall performance — had it maintained its score of 82.40, it would have polled 16th in this year’s list. Instead, at 19th with 81.3 in 2014, its position seems more reflective of stronger performances by Universities in Chile and Brazil, which dominated the list.

Variations

Argentina’s best performing university in global rankings is consistently UBA, scoring strongest in the Shanghai Ranking, which focuses heavily on the number of Nobel laureates and field awards, and qualitative indicators like research citations and publication output, predominately in technical fields.

In 2013, UBA tied for third place in Latin America, ranked 151-200 along with the National Autonomous University of Mexico. They were outranked only by the University of Sao Paulo, which fell into the stronger-performing bloc of 101-150. No other Argentine institutions made it into the top 500, which is dominated by European, predominately English-speaking universities.

The CWTS Leiden Ranking, which has a similar technical and academic focus as the Shanghai Ranking, placed UBA as No. 6 in the region in 2013, with two Chilean universities leading the list: the Catholic University and the University of Chile. Argentina’s National University of Córdoba and the National University of La Plata also made it into the top 20.

Finally, the SCImago group, focusing on the research performances of universities, put UBA at seventh in its 2013 list, with the National University of La Plata coming in second nationally and 15th in the region. The University of Sao Paulo tops the ranking, both regionally and in competition with Spanish and Portuguese institutions, while the Autonomous University of Mexico came in second in Latin America.

Closer look

UBA “is the region’s most popular institution among graduate employers, but suffers from a comparatively poor student/faculty ratio and low proportion of staff with a PhD,” QS said yesterday, noting that Argentine, along with Mexican and Colombian institutions, “excel in specific areas, but they currently lack the all-round consistency of the top institutions from Brazil and Chile”.

The country’s largest public university was followed by Buenos Aires-based private institution, Austral University at 20th place, while the National University of La Plata rounded off the top three Argentine institutions at 21st.

Of the nine Argentine institutions in the top 50, Austral and La Plata’s public university were two of only three to have improved in the ranking this year, moving from 25th and 24th in 2013, respectively. The other was the Buenos Aires Technology Institute (ITBA), which jumped from 49th to 45th.

Buenos Aires-based universities dominated the list of Argentine institutes included in the top 50, with the Argentine Pontifical Catholic University (UCA) coming in 22nd, from 19th in 2013; the National University of Córdoba 25th, from 22nd in 2013; Torcuato Di Tella University 44th, from 44th in 2013; San Andrés University 46th from 41st in 2013; and the National University of Rosario 46th, from 45th in 2013.

Herald staff

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