Rankings of universities in South Africa

Summary

Location of South Africa

Rankings of universities in South Africa are largely based on international university rankings, since there are no South African rankings as of yet.

These international university rankings indicate that South Africa's university system is the strongest on the continent: it is home to five of the six highest ranked African universities,[1] including the two campuses consistently ranked as academically strongest in Africa, University of Cape Town[2] and University of the Witwatersrand.

Highly cited international university rankings

In part because of the inherent difficulty of ranking complex educational institutions, there are an expanding number of competing international university ranking schemes, each with a different emphasis. Four of the most prominent are the Times Higher Education World University Rankings (most widely accepted), The Centre for World University rankings (CWUR),QS World University Rankings, and the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU, sometimes referred to as the "Shanghai Rankings").

Times Higher Education World University Rankings

The Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings for 2021 ranked the top South African universities as follows:[3]

SA Rank World Rank University
1 155[4] University of Cape Town
2 201-250[5] University of the Witwatersrand
3 251–300[6] Stellenbosch University
4 351-400[7] University of Kwa-zulu Natal
5 401–500[8] Durban University of Technology
6 501–600[9] North-West University
7 (tie) 601–800[10] University of Johannesburg
7 (tie) 601–800[11] University of Pretoria
7 (tie) 601-800[12] University of the Western Cape
10 (tie) 1000+[13] University of South Africa
10 (tie) 1000+[14] Tshwane University of Technology

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2020 ranked the top South African universities as follows:[15]

SA Rank World Rank University
1 136[16] University of Cape Town
2 194[17] University of the Witwatersrand
3 251–300[18] Stellenbosch University
4 401-500[19] University of Kwa-zulu Natal
5 501–600[20] North-West University
6 601-800[21] University of Johannesburg
7 601–800[22] University of Pretoria
8 601-800[23] University of the Western Cape
9 801-1000[24] Tshwane University of Technology
10 1000+[25] University of South Africa

QS World University Rankings

The 2021-22 edition of the QS World University Rankings ranked the top South African universities as follows:

SA rank World rank University
1 226[26] University of Cape Town
2 424[27] University of the Witwatersrand
3 390[28] University of Johannesburg
4 482 Stellenbosch University
5 601-650 University of Pretoria
=6 801-1000 Rhodes University
=6 801–1000 University of KwaZulu-Natal
=8 1001–2000 North-West University
=8 1001–2000 University of the Western Cape

Previous years' world rankings are as follows (before 2010 the ranking was known as the Times Higher Education-QS World University Rankings):

SA rank University 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2015
1 University of Cape Town 257 200 176 146 161æ 141
2 University of the Witwatersrand 322 282 319 321 360 318
3 Stellenbosch University 390
4 University of Pretoria 509 469 501–600 401–500 451–500 471-480
5 University of KwaZulu-Natal 484 487 401–500 501–600 501–550 501-550

ARWU/Shanghai

The Academic Ranking of World Universities has ranked the top South African universities as follows:

SA rank University 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014[29] 2013[30] 2012[31] 2010[32] 2009[33] 2008[34] 2007[35] 2006[36] 2005[37] 2004[38] 2003[39]
1 University of Cape Town 201-300 201-300 301-400 201-300 201-300 201–300 201–300 201–300 201–300 201–302 201–302 203–304 201–300 203–300 202–301 251–300
2 University of the Witwatersrand 201-300 301-400 201-300 201-300 201-300 201–300 301–400 301–400 301–400 303–401 303–401 305–402 301–400 301–400 302–403 451–500
3 Stellenbosch University 401-500 401-500 401-500 401-500 401-500 401–500 401–500 401–500 401–500 402–501 402–503 403–510 401–500 401–500 404–502 451–500
4 University of KwaZulu-Natal 401-500 401-500 401-500 401-500 401–500
5 University of Pretoria 401-500 401-500
6 University of Johannesburg 401-500

Note: These are the only ranked South African universities.

Center for World University Rankings (CWUR)

The CWUR ranked the top South African Universities as follows:[40][41]

2018-19 SA Rank University 2018-19 2015
1 University of Cape Town 223 248
2 University of the Witwatersrand 230 149
3 University of KwaZulu-Natal 402 401
4 University of Pretoria 438 678
5 Stellenbosch University 448 500
6 University of Johannesburg 790 -
7 North-West University 964 -

International Rankings for Additional Context

University Ranking by Academic Performance (URAP)

URAP, which is a newer ranking scheme based solely on quantitative measures of academic productivity, includes data for a larger number of global universities, and thus gives an alternative view of the relative standing of more South African institutions. The 2020-2021 edition of URAP ranked the top South African Universities as follows:[42]

SA Rank World Rank University
1 237 University of Cape Town
2 335 University of the Witwatersrand
3 362 University of KwaZulu-Natal
4 388 Stellenbosch University
5 458 University of Pretoria
6 603 University of Johannesburg
7 653 North-West University
8 883 University of the Western Cape
9 937 University of the Free State
10 1007 Rhodes University
11 1086 University of South Africa
12 1379 Tshwane University of Technology
13 1420 Durban University of Technology
14 1446 Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
15 2131 University of Limpopo
16 2132 Cape Peninsula University of Technology
17 2362 University of Fort Hare
18 2397 University of Venda
19 2591 Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University
20 2764 University of Zululand
21 2911 Vaal University of Technology

Business-oriented rankings

Several international rankings schemes focus on the placement of graduates in business settings.

Times Higher Education Alma Mater Index

This is another THE ranking which aims to measure the real world success of a University's alumni by ranking Universities according to the number of their graduates that are currently CEOs of Fortune Global 500 companies. The global number one for 2017 is by a considerable margin, Harvard University. The only African University that appears on the Global top 100 is the University of the Witwatersrand. The 2017 South African rankings are as follows:[43]

SA Rank World Rank University
2 54 University of the Witwatersrand

Tredence-Emerging Global Employability University Ranking

This is a global ranking of universities by the perceived quality of their graduates by top employers around the world. The only African university in the top 150 is the University of the Witwatersrand. The 2013 ranking is as follows:[44]

SA Rank World Rank University
1 139 University of the Witwatersrand

Bloomberg Billionaire Ranking

This ranks universities according to their popularity among US based billionaires. The only ranked South African university is the University of the Witwatersrand. The 2014 ranking is as follows:[45]

SA Rank World Rank University
1 8 University of the Witwatersrand

Additional context on South African higher educational institutions

2010 Centre for Higher Education Transformation report

A 2010 report by Centre for Higher Education Transformation identified 3 different university clusters in South Africa, grouped according to function. The input variables used to group universities were:

  • Percentage of headcount enrolment in science, engineering and technology
  • Masters and doctoral enrolments
  • Student to staff ratios
  • Permanent staff with doctoral degrees
  • Private and government income
  • Student fee income

The output variables were:

  • Student success rates
  • Graduation rates
  • Weighted research output units per permanent staff member

The Red cluster constitutes the top research-intensive universities. The Blue cluster consists of institutions focused primarily on technical training, while the Green cluster includes institutions which show characteristics of both missions. The clusters are:[46]

Red Cluster Green Cluster Blue Cluster
University of the Witwatersrand University of the Free State Vaal University of Technology
Stellenbosch University University of KwaZulu-Natal Central University of Technology
University of Cape Town North-West University Durban University of Technology
University of Pretoria University of Fort Hare Mangosuthu University of Technology
Rhodes University University of Limpopo Tshwane University of Technology
University of the Western Cape Cape Peninsula University of Technology
University of Johannesburg University of Venda
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Walter Sisulu University
University of Zululand

References

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https://web.archive.org/web/20160417014732/http://www.4icu.org/topAfrica/

See also