Latin America University Rankings 2021: measures of progress

Growing participation in the rankings attests to universities’ determination to raise quality and better serve their communities, says Ellie Bothwell

July 13, 2021
Children play near cable cars that cross over Complexo do Alemao in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Source: Getty

Browse the Latin America University Rankings 2021 results


When we launched our Latin America University Rankings five years ago, just 50 institutions made the list. This year, that figure has more than tripled to 177. The expansion of the ranking is testament to both the improvement of universities across the Latin America and Caribbean region and the growing desire among institutions to monitor and benchmark their performance against their local and global peers.

It is a tough time for universities in all regions of the world and not least of all in Latin America, where pandemic-related budget constraints and anti-science governments are taking their toll on academics, as detailed in our analysis.

But the results of our Latin America University Rankings 2021 shine a light on some of the success stories in the region – institutions that have excelled despite the challenges.


Download a free copy of the Latin America University Rankings 2021 digital supplement


The Pontifical Catholic University of Chile is ranked number one for the third year in a row, thanks to its strong performance across the board but particularly in the areas of research environment and knowledge transfer.

Brazil’s Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul achieves its highest ever position, eighth, up from 13th position last year, largely due to an improvement in its score for teaching environment.

And the University of Costa Rica joins the top 25 for the first time primarily for the same reason, while the Tecnológico de Costa Rica makes its debut in the list in the 126-150 band.

Overall, universities across 13 countries – from Argentina to Venezuela – are included in the ranking.

Drilling down further into the data behind the rankings reveals the diversity of excellence across the region. Brazil may dominate the continent, in terms of land mass, number of higher education institutions and teaching and research reputation, but Ecuador stands out when it comes to international outlook, while Chile and Colombia punch above their weight for citation impact.

But not all stories can be captured by data. That’s why in these pages we also hear about how two universities  – one in Chile, one in Colombia – transformed their approaches to teaching and learning during the pandemic.

Chantal Jouannet Valderrama, director of the Center for Faculty Development at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, writes in one of the pieces (page 30): “We firmly believe that collaboration, creating networks and transferring our successes from the past year will allow us to overcome not only complex challenges such as lockdowns, but also some of Latin America’s deep-seated social problems like poverty and inequality.”

We couldn’t agree more. That’s why we look forward to continuing to expand our ranking, welcome new faces and provide deeper insights over the next five years to help support universities across Latin America and the Caribbean.

ellie.bothwell@timeshighereducation.com


Countries/regions represented

Country/region    

Number of institutions

Top institution

Rank

Brazil

67

University of São Paulo

2

Chile

28

Pontifical Catholic University of Chile

1

Colombia

24

University of the Andes, Colombia

13

Mexico

23

Monterrey Institute of Technology

4

Ecuador

11

Universidad San Francisco de Quito

41

Argentina

9

National University of San Martín

33

Peru

8

Pontifical Catholic University of Peru

36

Costa Rica

2

University of Costa Rica

25

Cuba

1

University of Havana

54

Jamaica

1

The University of the West Indies

19

Puerto Rico

1

University of Puerto Rico

69

Uruguay

1

ORT Uruguay University

101-125

Venezuela

1

University of the Andes, Venezuela

101-125

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