South Africa’s best universities to study technology and engineering

South Africa has a severe skills shortage in technical fields, which bodes ill for government’s plans to take the fourth industrial revolution head-on.

This is felt particularly sharply in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, where skills are needed to meet the growing demands of businesses and industry to keep apace with technology.

Recent data published by the Department of Basic Education uncovered a worrying trend among South Africa’s learners: mathematics and science – the two crucial disciplines required for a foundation in STEM fields – have seen a rapid decline in the number of students writing and passing these subjects in matric.

According to the department, the number of students taking maths in Grade 12 declined from 263,903 in 2015 to 222,043 in 2019, while physical science declined from 193,189 to 164,478 in the same time-frame.

This comes as government is pushing new tech-focused subjects, such as robotics and coding, into schools, to better-prepare students for the world of technology.

These skills are imperative for future careers. With the alarming levels of unemployment in South Africa, it’s essential to identify where there are skills shortages and to encourage learners to study in those fields that present employment opportunities. An industry such as robotics is calling out for more engineers.

The lack of these skills is not for a lack of places to attain them, with South Africa’s universities ranked among best in the world for various subjects in these fields.

Several global university rankings released throughout the year include more granular data, assessing top university performance in various fields of study. We have focused on technology, computer science and engineering.


Times Higher Education World University Rankings

Eight and 10 universities are listed in the THE ranking for computer science and engineering, respectively.

The THE is a global performance ranking that judges research-intensive universities across 13 performance indicators, and is independently audited. It places particular emphasis on research and citations.

The engineering category covers general engineering, electrical and electronic engineering, mechanical and aerospace engineering, civil engineering and chemical engineering.

Computer Science

Global rank University
501-600 University of Cape Town
501-600 University of Pretoria
501-600 Stellenbosch University
601-800 University of Johannesburg
601-800 University of KwaZulu Natal
601-800 University of South Africa (Unisa)
601-800 University of the Witwatersrand
801+ Tshwane University of Technology

Engineering

Global rank University
301-400 University of South Africa (Unisa)
301-400 Tshwane University of Technology
401-500 North-West University
501-600 University of Cape Town
501-600 University of Johannesburg
601-800 Durban University of Technology
601-800 University of KwaZulu Natal
601-800 University of Pretoria
601-800 Stellenbosch University
601-800 University of the Witwatersrand

Academic Ranking of World Universities

Five South African universities were ranked in the science and engineering field in the the ARWU, with local institutes ranking among the top 500 in the world in five categories.

The ARWU assesses more than 1,800 universities on six key measures, with particular focus on research and citations in natural sciences.

Electrical and Electronic Engineering

Global rank University
401-500 University of KwaZulu Natal
401-500 University of Pretoria

Computer Science and Engineering

Global rank University
401-500 University of Cape Town

Energy Science and Engineering

Global rank University
301-400 University of KwaZulu Natal
301-400 University of Pretoria

Environmental Science and Engineering

Global rank University
301-400 University of Cape Town
401-500 Stellenbosch University

Mining and Mineral Engineering

Global rank University
51-75 University of Cape Town
76-100 Stellenbosch University
76 -100 University of the Witwatersrand

University Ranking by Academic Performance

In the 2020 field of study ranking, seven South African universities placed among the top 1000 for technology, with six in the ranking for engineering.

URAP is an academic performance based ranking, so publications constitute the basis of the ranking methodology. Both quality and quantity of publications and international research collaboration performance are used as indicators.

Engineering

Global rank University
425 University of Pretoria
501 University of KZN
548 Stellenbosch University
653 University of Johannesburg
693 University of the Witwatersrand
703 University of Cape Town

Technology

Global rank University
531 University of Cape Town
549 University of Pretoria
614 University of Witwatersrand
652 Stellenbosch University
699 University of KZN
816 University of Johannesburg
977 University of the Free State

QS World University Rankings

In the 2020 ranking for field of study, four South African universities were ranked in the list for engineering and technology.

The QS rankings identifies which subjects universities are particularly strong in relation to international competitors, looking specifically at academic reputation and research output.

Research citations, along with the results of major global surveys of employers and academics are also used to rank the universities.

Global rank University
307 University of Cape Town
364 University of Pretoria
401-450 Stellenbosch University
451-500 University of the Witwatersrand

Read: These 6 South African universities are ranked among the top 500 in the world

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South Africa’s best universities to study technology and engineering