If you are looking to study at one of the best universities in Latin America, heading to Brazil might be your best bet, according to the results of the 2020 Times Higher Education Latin America University Rankings. The country has an impressive 61 universities in the ranking of approximately 166 universities.
Despite Brazil being the most represented country in the ranking, the top university is the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. The university retains its first place from last year. Coming in at number two is the University of São Paulo in Brazil.
Chile is another good choice for students looking to study in Latin America, with 30 universities in the ranking. Other countries with a strong presence include Colombia (23 universities) and Mexico (22).
The rest of the top five includes the University of Campinas (ranked third) and the Monterrey Institute of Technology in fourth place, both in Brazil. In joint fifth position are the Federal University of Minas Gerais and the Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP).
The Latin America University Rankings use the same methodology as the World University Rankings but some of the indicators have been recalibrated to reflect the profile of higher education in Latin America. The full methodology can be found here.
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1. Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, Chile
The university originally taught law, mathematics, legal sciences and physical sciences. However, the faculty of theology was established in 1935 and since then the course catalogue has expanded to include subjects such as philosophy, commerce and technology.
Four of the university’s campuses are located in Santiago, Chile’s capital. Santiago is the cultural, political and financial centre of Chile, home to the headquarters of many multinational companies.
The fifth campus is in Villarrica next to the city’s lake.
2. University of São Paulo, Brazil
The University of São Paulo is the oldest and largest university in Brazil. Four of the 11 campuses are in the city of São Paulo, while the remaining campuses are in the cities of Bauru, Lorena, Piracicaba, Pirassununga, Ribeirão Preto and two in São Carlos.
The university offers many recreational activities to students, including 245 museums and galleries, two theatres, a cinema, a TV channel and an orchestra.
There are also five hospitals affiliated with the institution. The University of São Paulo Medical School Public Hospital is a major training hospital for the university’s School of Medicine.
3. University of Campinas, Brazil
The University of Campinas, or Unicamp, is located in the city of Campinas in the São Paulo region of Brazil.
Although the university is one of Brazil’s youngest (it opened in 1966), it has established itself as a primary medical and scientific research centre. The institution is responsible for about 15 per cent of the research conducted in Brazil.
International undergraduate students will need to sit an exam before acceptance. The exam requires prospective students to have a good grasp of Portuguese.
Both Brazilian and international students do not pay tuition fees, as is the case in all state-run universities in the country.
The university offers 70 undergraduate programmes and 153 postgraduate programmes across four main areas: exact sciences, human sciences, biological sciences and technologies.
Student experience in Latin America
4. Monterrey Institute of Technology, Mexico
The Monterrey Institute of Technology is a private university system founded in 1943 in Monterrey, Mexico.
It offers undergraduate, master’s and PhD programmes across a number of disciplines, including engineering, management, social sciences, arts, science and medicines. There are 31 campuses across 25 cities in Mexico.
The university encourages students to study abroad for a period of time. Students at the university represent more than 70 nationalities.
=5. Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil
Federal University of Minas Gerais is a federal university located in Belo Horizonte, state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. It is one of the largest universities in Brazil and offers 75 undergraduate degrees, 57 PhD programmes, 66 MSc programs, 79 post-baccalaureate programmes and 41 medical residency programmes.
The university teaches across a number of different subjects including music, information science, nursing and engineering, among others.
The university also has campuses in Tiradentes and Montes Claros. Most courses, however, are taught at the main campus, located in the Pampulha neighbourhood of Belo Horizonte.
=5. Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP), Brazil
The Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP) is a public university in Brazil.
It started off as a health science specialist university where the mission was to develop students into health professionals and contribute to medical research. It has since expanded its teaching provision to more than 50 courses including philosophy, history and economics.
São Paulo Hospital is part of the university. Graduate students gain work experience in this busy, comprehensive medical institution. The hospital also provides health services for underprivileged people.
The 50 top universities in Latin America 2020
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Editor’s note: July 2020
After the release of the Latin America University Rankings 2020 it was discovered that the research and teaching pillar scores have been incorrectly displayed in the final published tables since 2016. The scores incorrectly displayed in these pillars are those based on the World University Rankings methodology and not the reweighted Latin America University Rankings methodology used to compile the rankings results.
This does not affect the data used to compile the rankings or universities’ overall scores or ranking positions.
The Latin America University Rankings tables have now been updated to display the correct scores for teaching and research.