China leads BRICS university rankings

7 out of the top 10 universities in the QS World University Rankings 2018 are in the east-Asian nation.

23 November 2017

Smriti Mallapaty


Heads of the BRICS group of emerging countries meeting at an annual summit in September 2017 in Xiamen, China.

Four Chinese universities hold the lead in the QS BRICS University Rankings 2018, published today. The institutions haven't budged for four consecutive years, with Tsinghua University in the top spot, followed by Peking University, Fudan University and the University of Science and Technology of China.

In the regional analysis, QS ranked 300 universities in the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The institutions were assessed on eight indicators, including the proportion of international faculty and students, faculty-to-student ratio, and the results of a global survey of academics and employers on their reputation. The universities were also judged on two measures of scientific output: the number of papers staff published in the Scopus database, and the frequency with which their research was cited.

In the 2018 tables, Lomonosov Moscow State University jumped two slots from 7th in 2016 to 5th this year and the Indian Institute of Science dropped from 6th to 8th. Making its first appearance in the top 10 is the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, which switches places with the Universidade de São Paulo in Brazil.

According to a recent report by the China Science and Technology Exchange Center, the BRICS group represents 43% of the global population, 16% of global trade, and 29% of all papers indexed by Scopus in 2015. China contributed to 17% of the Scopus output, India made up 5%, Russia and Brazil produced 2.6% each, and South Africa less than 1%. But South African researchers were found to be the most internationally connected, co-authoring the largest share of their publications with global partners. India and China were the least connected.

The BRICS group is a growing presence in the Nature Index as well, their contribution increasing from 12% to nearly 17% of the global share of authorship, largely driven by China's rise. When assessed for their high-quality research, the balance tips even more in favour of Chinese universities than in the QS rankings, with all top ten institutions from the east-Asian nation.

Data analysis by Bo Wu.

Corrected: An earlier version of this story included incorrect data on the number of institutional partnerships between BRICS countries. Top collaborators, China and Russia, formed 540 (not 1,165) partnerships between 2012 and 2016.


Research Highlights of partners

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