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QS University Rankings 2014: Asia and Latin America – displaying regional priorities

Earlier this month QS Ranking 2014 was published displaying the lists of top ranked universities in Asia and Latin America. 
The Asian ranking features 300 universities that were selected after evaluating 491 and ranking 474  institutions in the continent, and it is based on nine indicators of different weight: academic reputation (30%), employer reputation (10%), faculty student ratio (20%), citations per paper (15%), papers per faculty (15%), international activity (2.5%), the proportion of international students (2.5%), inbound and outbound exchange students (2.5% each). 
This year’s ranking introduces some changes in country scores – the first place is reserved for NUS – the National University of Singapore, which means that for the first time the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology is not number one in the QS Asia Ranking. It dropped to number 5 while the formerly second placed University of Hong Kong went down to number three. The second place is now held by KAIST – the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. The overall reshuffling in the Asian ranking shows several trends among the leading Asian countries in higher education – Japan is showing small but consistent drops while Korea, Singapore and China gradually move up on the list. The number of Indian universities increasing but their ranking is not improving whatsoever. 
The changes in the Asian list, particularly in reference to China, are attributed to government investment in scientific research and a surge in research citations. Singapore and Korea are already benefiting from similar strategies of their national governments, as the ranking shows. 
The ranking of Latin American universities bring some novelties as well. Universidade de Sao Paolo was replaced in the first place by the Chilean Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (UC), the so far second placed. The third and the fourth places are Brazilian, the former held by Unicamp and the latter by Universidade Federal de Rio de Janeiro. All in all, Brazil leads the top ten list (i.e. 11 because the 10th place is shared) with 6 universities. 
The indicators used to rank the universities in Latin America are fewer than the ones used for Asian universities – only seven. Some indicators were excluded for the lack of data, some were added and some weigh differently from those on the Asian list.  For example, employer reputation weighs twice as much in the Latin American (20%) as in the Asian list (10%), whereas the opposite stands for the faculty-student ratio (10% for Latin America and 20% for Asia). There is no indicator for international activities and students in the Latin American ranking, but there are two indicators that are absent from the Asian ranking – the proportion of staff with PhD and web impact (10% each). 
This as well as many other rankings have their why’s and how’s, and the first can start with – why do certain indicators weigh more than others? Although the indicators and their importance may be questioned, they do, however, provide a broad picture of different priorities in higher education systems across regions.  QS University Rankings: Asia QS University Rankings: Latin America