Three Colombian Universities have been ranked among the top 350 best universities in the world.
In the highly respected QS World University Rankings for 2013, the Colombian universities of Los Andes, Nacional, and Javeriana occupy spots 254, 325 and 349 respectively. They have each improved their positions from last year by an average 56 places.
The next highest-ranked Colombian universities all registered outside the top 500. Brazil’s Sao Paolo University came first out of the Latin American universities, at 127, followed by Mexico’s Unam (163) and Chile’s Pontifica Catolica (166).
The list, which is celebrating its 10th year, uses six different criteria to rank universities. The most important factor (given 40% weight) is the institution’s global reputation, which is established through a survey of academics – this year over 62,000 took part. Half as important is the faculty-student ratio and the number of citations per faculty. After this comes the university’s employer reputation and finally, with least importance, the proportion of international students and faculty members it has. The study ranked 800 universities after considering 3000.
The top 10 is made up of 4 British universities and 6 from the United States, with MIT beating Harvard and Cambridge to the top spot. US universities occupy 14 of the top 25 spots.
According to the QS ranking, Colombia’s universities are strongest in engineering, administration, and the social sciences. In the latter, the University of Los Andes came 196th, the highest of any Colombian university in any subject.
Javier Serrano, Vice Rector of the University of Los Andes, said that “in administration [Colombian universities] have managed to compete strongly in international markets,” adding that the social sciences have seen “the most publications.”
In an alternative list, compiled by researchers at the University of Shanghai Jiao Tong, there was not a single Colombian university in the top 500. That list gives more weight to alumni and faculty members who have won Nobel Prizes or Fields Medals.
Gonzalo Palau, professor of economics at the University of Rosario, blames the focus on prizes for Colombia’s absence in the Shanghai list: “These rankings are made with parameters that have to be revised.”
“Apart from [author] Gabriel Garcia Marquez, there are no Nobel Prize winners [in Colombia], so it’s very difficult to find a Colombian institution on the list.”