Preliminary outcomes of the GEUM research project : “Grassroots student-led entrepreneurial university ranking in Brazil”

Researchers: Axel-Berg, Justin Hugo; Pimentel, Daniel Neves; Rosso, Guilherme


 The ranking group was inspired by the emergent tendency in global higher education towards entrepreneurial universities that produce knowledge in the context of application, and seek to contribute to the construction of knowledge societies and economies. The issue has received much specialist and international attention in Brazil, and competences are growing rapidly. The topic has yet to receive mass exposure and attention, and therefore limited political clout as a concept. With this in mind, Brasil Junior, RedeCsF (the Sciences without Borders Alumni Network), Brasa, AIESEC and Enactus came together in order to produce a bottom-up, grassroots piece of research to reflect the student perspective on entrepreneurial universities, and bring the agenda to national attention. Unlike most other existent rankings, which are usually composed and selected either by commercial ranking agencies or an academic board, this ranking sought to reflect the student perspective and demands.


 The research took the form of two phases, one as a qualitative opinion survey of respondents to discover student perception of what an entrepreneurial university is, from which 4255 responses were elicited. These results were then used to  inform metric choice in the second phase; the construction of the ranking itself. This phase utilized student ambassadors in each university to gather information, combining them with publicly available data from the ministry of education and the commercial domestic ranking Folha de Sao Paulo ranking. This second phase had upwards of 6000 respondents.

Metric Composition

Students were encouraged to respond to the first section via a multiple choice questionnaire as to their opinions on the most important characteristics of an entrepreneurial university, and a semi-structured section in which they were encouraged to write up to 500 characters on what an entrepreneurial university is. Textual analysis techniques were applied to the 4255 responses from this stage, and a guiding tripartite definition was used to inform the composition of stage two.

“An entrepreneurial university is an academic community, inserted into a favourable ecosystem, capable of developing a society through innovative practices”

From this, the metrics were divided into the following:



Results will be published on November 8th at


 The problems of constructing a ranking, especially for something with multivalent results like an entrepreneurial university are well documented. The potential power of rankings, however, lies in their ability to gain wider attention and serve as drivers to mobilise public opinion and pressure for change. This ranking has attracted much press and attention outside of academia, and generated internal dialogue.

For any ranking to be useful, it must seek to represent as broad a range of information about its included universities as possible. Because many universities in Brazil have relatively limited capabilities, metrics are geared relatively low by global standards. As such, this ranking shows which universities in Brazil are best positioned to become entrepreneurial universities and which have the most entrepreneurial stances. Future iterations will seek to include more output and impact-based measures, as universities begin to respond to the increased articulation of student demand.