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Wed Sep 7, 2016, 02:15 PM

University of Buenos Aires ranked best university in Latin America, 85th in the world.

The University of Buenos Aires (UBA) is the best university in Latin America according to the latest QS World University Rankings 2016/2017 study published earlier this week. It climbed 39 places from the 2015 survey to a rank of 85th, while maintaining its place as the best university in the region for the second year running.

This was the highest position ever occupied by a university from the region in the renowned global rankings survey, a list otherwise dominated as in previous years by schools from North America, Western Europe and East Asia. The rankings include 916 universities from 81 countries.

“Latin America struggles, but sees an institution in the top 100 for the first time. The University of Buenos Aires occupies the highest rank ever achieved by a university from the region,” the report said. The UBA ranked well ahead of the next-best-placed universities from Latin America, none of which made it into the top 100. It was followed in the region by the University of São Paulo (120), the National Autonomous University of Mexico (128), the Catholic University of Chile (148), and Campinas State University in Brazil (191).

Other Argentine universities ranked in the survey included Austral University (308), the Argentine Catholic University (310), the University of Belgrano (352), the National University of La Plata (551), and National University of Córdoba (601).

Following the publication of the QS ranking, the UBA Chancellor Alberto Barbieri said that the result reflected a greater emphasis on research and development and highlighted the scale of the achievement. “This university is the flagship of public education and who we are today. We have a tradition, a history to maintain ... There are more than 20,000 universities in the world, of which only 1,000 were analyzed. To be found among the top 100 is a great joy and a reminder that we must continue working,” he told Infobae.

The UBA is publicly funded and tuition free for all students, even international ones (with a quota). With 320,000 enrolled students, it's the largest in Argentina and the second largest in Latin America after the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). The UBA employs 32,000 teaching staff and has produced four Nobel Prize laureates — Carlos Saavedra Lamas (Peace), Bernardo Houssay (Physiology), Luis Federico Leloir (Chemistry), and César Milstein (Medicine). Nobel Peace Prize laureate Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, so honored in 1980 for his efforts to uncover the Dirty War a few years earlier, is currently a professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences.

Funding constraints

The UBA, like the other 47 public universities in Argentina, saw it's annual budget increase over seven fold in dollar terms during the administrations of Néstor and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner - from 300 million pesos ($100 million) in 2003 to 6.7 billion pesos ($720 million) in 2015. It also benefited from the PROGRESAR program, enacted in 2014 to help needy students meet costly non-tuition expenses - a leading cause for high dropout rates.

Argentina's public university budget, signed last October, reached 52 billion pesos ($3.5 billion) this year. Budgets, however, remain inadequate given high enrollment ratios (1.4 million students, plus another 400,000 in private colleges). The recent rise in inflation rates and sharp hikes in utility costs as a result of President Mauricio Macri's austerity policies have strained the UBA's budget; electricity charges alone will jump from 19 million pesos ($2 million) in 2015 to 84 million pesos ($6 million) this year.

Following a series of protests by university faculty, the Macri administration granted the public university system a 500 million-peso ($33 million) supplemental appropriation in May to meet higher utility costs.

At: http://www.buenosairesherald.com.ar/article/221194/uba-ranked-as-latam%E2%80%99s-best-university-85th-in-world-

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