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QS and THE: A Ranking for BRICS only, more or less…

A new special ranking on a specific group of countries? Or simply a new ranking for those who did not make it to the regular one? From whatever angle you may want to look at it, the end of the year is approaching and there is still enough time to publish some new ranking! Even two of those – Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) and the Times Higher Education (THE) have published a new country-specific university ranking each earlier this month. Whereas the QS Ranking focuses exclusively on Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS), THE brings in some additional emerging countries next to the BRICS themselves.

The QS Ranking’s top ten are strongly dominated by China with seven places, followed by Brazil with two and Russia with one. To be found at the top are the Chinese equivalents to the UK’s Oxford and Cambridge, Tsinghua University and Peking University on first and second rank, followed by Russia’s Lomonosov Moscow State University as number three. China does not only heavily dominate the top ten, but the whole ranking with 40 out of 100 universities, somehow outranking the other countries. Russia is represented with 19 universities, Brazil with 17 (best ranked as 8, University of São Paulo), India with 16 (best ranked as 13, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi), and South Africa with 8 (best ranked as 11, University of Cape Town).

Although not one-to-one comparable due to the inclusion of other emerging countries, the THE ranking shows a considerably different result concerning the BRICS. Likewise but in different order, China’s Peking and Tsinghua University lead the ranking, followed by South Africa’s University of Cape Town. The THE rankings are still dominated by China with four universities, but significantly less so because of Turkey, prominently represented in the top ten with three universities. As a whole, China scores well with 23 universities among the top 100. Taiwanese universities are represented 21 times (best ranked as 4, National Taiwan University), followed by India with ten universities (best ranked as 13 Panjab University) and Turkey with seven universities (best ranked as 5, Bogaziçi University). Brazil scores with four universities (best ranked as 11, São Paulo University) and Russia with only two (best ranked as 11, Lomonosov Moscow State University). Similarly well ranked as other BRICS states are Thailand with five universities represented and Poland with four universities.

Whereas the THE BRICS & Emerging Economies Rankings is based on the same methodology as employed for the regular THE World University Rankings, the QS University Rankings BRICS has featured some noteworthy changes. Consequently, the usually strong share on academic reputation has been reduced from 40 % to 30 %, while the employer reputation accounts for 20 % instead of 10 %. Likewise, the factors ‘faculty-student ratio’ and ‘citations per paper’ amount for 20 % each, rather than the usual 10 %. Confident in its methodology, THE attributes 30 % to the factors teaching, research and citations each and 2.5 % for industry income and further 7.5 % for international outlook.

The question arises why QS has decided to adapt their usual methodology. Wagging tongues claim that that the significantly better representation of Russian universities in the QS Ranking in comparison to THE’s version is due to Russia’s initiative behind the QS Ranking. Yet, also THE’s ranking leaves some questions unanswered with regard to their approach in mixing together the big BRICS states with other so called emerging economies. 

QS University Rankings: BRICS

Times Higher Education BRICS & Emerging Economies Rankings 2014