These are the world’s top 10 universities in emerging markets

Students walk to class outside Jameson Hall at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.
Students walk to class outside Jameson Hall at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.
Image: CC/Ian Barbour
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This post has been corrected.

A new ranking of the world’s best universities only lists schools in the global South. The Times Higher Education “BRICS and Emerging Economies” ranking for 2015 includes “only institutions in countries classified as “emerging economies” by the Financial Times Stock Exchange (FTSE). Sans the typical onslaught of the American Ivy League, Oxbridge, various Sorbonnes and Swiss technical institutes, the ranking paints a surprising picture of global higher education.

The Top 10

Data: Times Higher Education

It’s a picture that students interested in foreign degrees should take a look at. For centuries, North America, Europe, and to an extent Japan and Australia, have committed to educating not just their constituent populations, but students from all four corners of the globe. But what was once only feasible for the mega-wealthy, due to high tuition fees and cost of living abroad, is increasingly democratizing.

More and more university-bound students of humbler socio-economic backgrounds—China and India’s growing middle classes, in particular—are seeking degrees outside their countries of birth. Higher education, like every other industry, is in a continuous state of globalization.

And as with other industries, geographic focus is shifting. China has risen to become the third-largest educational hub in the world, after the US and Great Britain. Schools in Turkey, Brazil, South Africa, and even the Russian Federation are quickly becoming competitive with the old stalwarts of Western education. Many are more affordable than a Harvard or Stanford; many are located in cities with costs of living far lower than Cambridge or Palo Alto.

Considering the fact that more that Indian students submitted over 90,000 applications for US visas in 2014—a 60% increase from the year before—shifting towards smaller applicant pools in Taiwan or India would be a strategic move. (Additionally, these institutions tend to have strong STEM programs—highly attractive for the 78% of Indian applicants to US universities who pursue science and engineering degrees.)

With that in mind, it’s not just students in India and China that should pay attention to opportunities in other BRICS countries, but those the world over. In terms of world-class education, and certainly in terms of diversity of experience, the global South has just as much to offer as the West.

Correction (June 24): A previous version of this post stated that only 4,000 Indian students out of the 90,000 that applied for US visas in 2014 were successful. In fact, 4,000 applications were processed over the course of a single day at the US embassy in New Delhi.