Latin America University Rankings 2021: patchy performance

Latin American universities are rising, but more slowly than others 

July 13, 2021
South American connections illustrating connections between national university systems
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Browse the Latin America University Rankings 2021 results

Universities in Latin America have been improving their overall scores in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings over the past few years, but as these charts show, the pace of change has been slow compared with other developing systems around the globe.

For instance, the average university score in two other regions – Mena (Middle East and North Africa) and Africa as a whole – was just a few points ahead of Latin America three years ago. But the gap has now grown to nearer 10 points in the latest edition of the ranking as universities in places such as South Africa and the Gulf make rapid ground.

Changes in mean WUR score 2018-2021

A closer analysis of the average metric scores by country in Latin America reveals more detail about the patchy performance, particularly how each nation has its own weaknesses and strengths.

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

Brazil, the main driver of wider Latin America performance due to the large number of institutions it has in the ranking, scores well in two of the main areas underpinning overall scores: teaching and research reputation.

However, it lags in others – most notably international metrics such as cross-border research collaboration and scores based on the share of students and staff from outside the country, but also for the citation impact of its research. Other Latin American countries notably do better than Brazil in these metrics.

Country metric heatmap

Click on graphic to see larger version

The lead that some nations like Ecuador have on international metrics could be partly attributed to them sharing a language, Spanish, with near neighbours, making collaboration and staff/student mobility easier.

But it is less clear why Brazil, often held up as an example of a rapidly developing science nation, is behind on research impact, with Chile in particular performing more strongly as are smaller research systems like Colombia and Argentina.

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