Developing narrative

January 1, 1990

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Phil Baty welcomes some new faces (and additional context) to the inaugural THE BRICS & Emerging Economies Rankings

Many of the world’s emerging economies have put the development of world-class universities at the heart of their national strategies.

China’s drive to move from a manufacturing to a knowledge and innovation economy has been characterised by astonishingly munificent funding to help a select few institutions compete with the world’s finest; President Vladimir Putin has decreed that five Russian universities must feature among the world’s top 100 by 2020; 100,000 Brazilian students will join the world’s leading institutions, backed by generous scholarships; and India is committed to improving its standing in the global league tables.

Progress is being made, and the results are beginning to show in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. In the 2013-2014 tables, published in October, China’s most dynamic duo joined the top 50 and India improved its position. But the emerging economies are at different stages of their journey, and there is some way to go before their efforts reach fruition. The overall rankings remain heavily dominated by North America and Western Europe, despite the ravages of austerity.

Only five institutions from the emerging economies appear in the World University Rankings 2013-14 top 200 (with 38 in the top 400). Some of the most exciting and dynamic institutions from the developing world do not yet make the grade.

This is where the inaugural BRICS & Emerging Economies Rankings come in. There is growing demand for global league tables that reflect regional and economic contexts, and an increasing range of institutions want to benchmark themselves against the world’s best, using the clear definitions developed with our data partner Thomson Reuters that underpin the tough but trusted standards set by the World University Rankings.

Indeed, the emerging economies table uses the same tried and tested methodology, developed after almost a year of open consultation and with informed advice from more than 50 leading experts. The institutions featured are judged against the same exacting standards, but in their own economic contexts.

The table restricts itself to those countries classified as emerging economies by the FTSE Group’s Country Classification process, including the so-called “BRICS” nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).

In the most recent Country Classification (published in September), 22 nations were listed: 10 as “advanced emerging” (Brazil, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malaysia, Mexico, Poland, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand and Turkey) and 12 as “secondary emerging” (Chile, China, Colombia, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Morocco, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, Russia and the United Arab Emirates).

Only 11 are represented in the 2013-14 world rankings top 400, but 18 make the emerging economies list.

We are delighted to offer the global academy this analysis, which paints a richer and deeper picture of the developing world’s exciting higher education prospects.

Phil Baty is editor, Times Higher Education Rankings.

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