Region still hampered by lack of high impact citations

Argentina’s Universidad de Buenos Aires was named Latin America’s leading university for a record seventh consecutive year in the QS World University Rankings 2022, despite falling three places to 69th this year.

Its fall is symptomatic of the declines experienced by Latin America’s top universities over the past year. Seven of the continent’s 10 best universities have suffered drops in rank, and its second-best university – Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México – loses its top-100 ranking.

Universidad de Buenos Aires retains its status as Latin America’s best university primarily due to its high levels of teaching capacity.

Though its score of 90.2/100 for the Academic Reputation indicator illustrates high levels of esteem among the global academic community, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México outperforms it, scoring 94.6/100.

Though its score of 93.4/100 for QS’s Employer Reputation metric denotes consistently strong employer recognition of its graduates, it is outperformed here by Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Universidad de los Andes Colombia, and Universidad Nacional de Colombia.

However, it outperforms all of its closest competitors in QS’s Faculty:Student Ratio metric. Its score of 78.2/100 is significantly superior to those achieved by Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (49.9/100), Universidade de São Paulo (18.8/100), and Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (22.4/100), which rank second, third and fourth in Latin America respectively.

In total, QS ranks 151 Latin American universities, from 16 of the continent’s nations. Of these, 20 have improved their rank over the past year, 46 have declined in rank, 66 have remained stable within their rank or band and 19 are new entrants into the ranking.

Ben Sowter, director of research at QS, said: “Latin America’s best universities are enjoying improving recognition among academics and employers responding to our surveys. In fact, 19 of the continent’s top 20 universities have improved their Academic Reputation score over the past year.

“While this is undoubtedly promising, it remains true that overall improvements will be circumscribed until Latin American institutions see a higher proportion of their research published in high-impact journals, and, indeed, cited more by the academic community.”

He said there are blueprints to follow in this regard, particularly from Asia: a blueprint that involves high levels of international engagement, institutional internationalisation, and an emphasis on cross-border research collaboration.

“With QS consistently recording low international faculty ratios for this continental cohort, remedying this through strategy and policy designed to attract talented academics from abroad is a necessary first step,” he added.