Amidst the covid-19 pandemic, USP (University of São Paulo) was ranked 84th in the ranking of the best universities in the world in the field of Health, the best place among Brazilian institutions, according to the list published today by the British magazine THE (Times Higher Education). The publication is one of the most important worldwide in the evaluation of higher education.
Despite having remained among the top 100 universities in the area of Health, USP dropped 10 positions compared to last year, when it was in 74th place.
Even so, it is an absolute leader among Brazilian educational institutions in three of the four fields of knowledge — Health, Life Sciences and Psychological Sciences. It is also the first in Latin America.
In Exact Sciences, it shares the top with two other universities in the country — Unicamp (State University of Campinas) and PUC-Rio (Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro). Globally, higher education institutions in the United States and the United Kingdom dominate the top positions in the ranking.
The University of São Paulo rose from two of the Times Higher Education lists. In the area of Biological Sciences, USP is now in the group that goes from 126th to 150th place, leading among Brazilian educational institutions. Last year, the university had been in the range between 151st and 200th places.
After 100th place, institutions are classified into groups. Meanwhile, in Exact Sciences, USP advanced from the range that encompasses the 501st to 600th place to that which goes from 401th to 500th place.
In Human Sciences, USP registered its sharpest drop, going from the group between the 201st and 250th places to the positions between the 301st and 400th places. Even with the fall, the university in the capital of São Paulo leads among the best Brazilian universities in this category as well.
Oxford University was the global leader in medical research. The British institution was responsible for the studies that led to the creation, in partnership with the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, of a vaccine against covid-19, today the most used in Brazil in the national immunization campaign.
To build the list, THE uses 13 criteria. Among the parameters are the number of citations in academic publications, the degree of internationalization, the learning environment, volume of innovation projects, among others.
Challenges of the covid-19 pandemic
The highlight of Brazil in the medical field came after a year in which the country became the epicenter of the global crisis of the new coronavirus and occupied the 11th position in the number of scientific publications on covid-19 at the end of last year, surpassing the Netherlands, Switzerland and Japan.
As of October 17, there have been 168,546 scientific publications related to the disease worldwide. Of these, 4,029 were signed by researchers working in the country, which reveals the intensification of production in the area to seek alternatives to the pandemic. Most of these publications, 729, were made by researchers from USP, which represents 18.5% of the national total.
For Times Higher Education knowledge area director Phil Baty, although the United Kingdom and the United States traditionally remain the “homes of the world’s best universities in” four disciplines, the scenario may be changing due to recent challenges.
Baty highlights that countries in Europe and Asia in particular have improved their performance. In the ranking of Biological Sciences, for example, the University of Tsinghua, in China, made a meteoric leap and jumped from 32nd to 7th place. “With the opportunity to attract and retain regional academic talent and students as a result of covid’s challenges in global travel, these countries (from Europe and Asia) can consolidate their position as leaders in these fields in the coming years,” he said.
This year, 1,523 universities from 98 countries and regions were classified in at least one of the four disciplines gathered by the Times Higher Education.