THE Latin America Rankings: Brazil continues to dominate, but who is close behind?
Aerial view of Brazil's Rio de Janeiro and its beaches. Source: Photo by Agustín Diaz/Unsplash

Times Higher Education (THE) have just revealed this year’s Latin America University Rankings, and though Brazil continues to dominate, higher education excellence across the region is not as clear cut as it seems.

You may be unsurprised to know that Brazil maintained its status, claiming six of the revered Top 10 spaces and a third of all positions.

The country has seen 43 institutions gain a place in this year’s prestigious list, up a whopping 32 on numbers from last year.

Brazil has also maintained the coveted top two spots, with its State University of Campinas (Unicamp) ranked number one for the second consecutive year, while the University of São Paulo  – also retaining its position in a solid second place – tops the table for research.

THE‘s 2018 rankings have been enhanced and expanded, spanning a total of 10 nations across Latin America and the Caribbean. This number is up eight on last year, seeing Peru jump back into the league as Jamaica hops in for its inaugural performance.




of institutions

Top ranked university in country/region LatAm 2018 rank
Brazil 43 State University of Campinas 1
Chile 26 Pontifical Catholic University of Chile 3
Mexico 22 Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education 5
Colombia 19 University of the Andes, Colombia 8
Argentina 7 National University of San Martín 19
Ecuador 5 University of San Francisco, Quito 71–80
Peru 3 Pontifical Catholic University of Peru 18
Venezuela 2 Simón Bolívar University 39
Costa Rica 1 University of Costa Rica 51–60
Jamaica 1 The University of the West Indies 37
 Source: Times Higher Education. For THE‘s full results and analysis, please click here.

For 2018, 129 institutions were included in the rankings, up from 82 last year. Forty-nine first-time entrants have elevated competition, further cementing South America’s growth as a desirable study destination.

Chile remains the second-most represented nation with 26 institutions making the cut, up from last year’s 18. Mexico comes third with 22 universities, up from a previous 13.

In other news comes Peru’s major comeback; formerly represented in 2016 with one lone institution – the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (PCUP) – this year’s list has seen three Peruvian universities gain entrance to the list, topped by PCUP at number 18.

Colombia is the fourth-most represented with 19 institutions coming through, up from just 11 in 2017. Argentina speeds ahead of Venezuela into fifth position with seven universities making the league table, up from the five representatives featured last year.

Ecuador has five institutions in the rankings, up from last year’s two. But both its previously-ranked universities – University of San Francisco, Quito and Escuela Politécnica Nacional – have declined, falling to 71-80 and 91-100, respectively.

Venezuela is the only country with fewer representatives than last year, with two universities ranked – down from three.

Jamaica has landed for the very first time, with the University of the West Indies breaking into the Top 40 at number 37, also ranking fourth in the table for international outlook.

Costa Rica has one representative institution, as it did last year.

The full Top 50 is as follows:

Institution name Country/region THE LatAm 2018 rank THE LatAm 2017 rank
State University of Campinas Brazil 1 1
University of São Paulo Brazil 2 2
Pontifical Catholic University of Chile Chile 3 3
Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP) Brazil 4 7
Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education Mexico 5 6
University of Chile Chile 6 4
Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio) Brazil 7 9
University of the Andes, Colombia Colombia 8 5
Federal University of Minas Gerais Brazil 9 11
Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul Brazil 10 NR
São Paulo State University (UNESP) Brazil 11 12
Federal University of Rio de Janeiro Brazil 12 8
National Autonomous University of Mexico Mexico 13 10
Federal University of Santa Catarina Brazil 14 15
Federal University of São Carlos Brazil 15 18
University of Brasília Brazil 16 19
University of Concepción Chile 17 13
Pontifical Catholic University of Peru Peru 18 NR
National University of San Martín Argentina 19 NR
University of Antioquia Colombia 20 17
Federal University of Viçosa Brazil 21 31–35
National University of Córdoba Argentina 22 26–30
University of Santiago, Chile (USACH) Chile 23 26–30
Federico Santa María Technical University Chile 24 22
Rio de Janeiro State University (UERJ) Brazil 25 24
Metropolitan Autonomous University Mexico 26 26–30
Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso Chile 27 =20
Austral University of Chile Chile 28 23
Pontifical Javeriana University Colombia 29 25
Federal University of Bahia Brazil 30 NR
National University of Colombia Colombia 31 =20
National University of La Plata Argentina 32 NR
Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS) Brazil 33 16
Federal University of ABC (UFABC) Brazil 34 14
Federal University of Pernambuco Brazil 35 26–30
Federal University of Paraná (UFPR) Brazil 36 51–60
The University of the West Indies Jamaica 37 NR
National University of Cuyo Argentina 38 NR
Simón Bolívar University Venezuela 39 26–30
National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) Mexico 40 36–40
Cayetano Heredia University Peru =41 NR
Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná Brazil =41 41–45
Torcuato Di Tella University Argentina 43 NR
Federal University of Lavras Brazil 44 51–60
Fluminense Federal University Brazil 45 41–45
University of Valparaíso Chile 46 31–35
Federal University of Pelotas Brazil 47 51–60
Londrina State University Brazil 48 51–60
Federal University of Technology – Paraná Brazil 49 NR
University of the Andes, Chile Chile 50 41–45
 Source: Times Higher Education. For THE‘s full results and analysis, please click here.

But while Brazil asserts its dominance, THE‘s most comprehensive analysis yet – looking at countries’ performance as a whole, based on their median pillar scores – reveals a far more nuanced picture of academic excellence across the region.

The analysis unveils Ecuador as the top-performing Latin American country in terms of research influence (citations) and global  outlook – closely followed by Chile.

But Argentina comes top for teaching environment, followed by Brazil, while Chile and Ecuador fare comparatively poorly.

Brazil is top for research environment, with Argentina close behind.

Phil Baty, Editorial Director of Global Rankings for THE, said:  “Deep economic and political strains are being felt in countries across Latin America, inevitably damaging the performance and attractiveness of the region’s universities on the global stage – and jeopardising their rich potential.

“However, also clear is the resilience and ambition of the region’s universities in the face of such challenges – their continued drive to increase quality and serve their nations’ needs.”

He added: “We need to see more Latin American universities embracing global data comparisons to help them develop, improve and compete regionally, and worldwide…”

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