New university rankings for South Africa

Stellenbosch University has outranked Wits in the 2015 QS World University Rankings, making it the country’s second best university after UCT.

The University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) slipped to 331st place, globally, from 318th in 2014.

Stellenbosh is ranked 302nd in the world, up from 390th in 2014 – but the University of Cape Town still reigns supreme at 171st, globally.

Worryingly however, its ranking is down from 141st in 2014.

Notably, the University of Pretoria dropped out of the top 500 universities in 2015, while Rhodes University moved up the rankings into the 501-550 range, placing above TUKS.

The 2015 ranking also saw two additional South African universities enter the list, with North West University and the University of the Western Cape both ranked within the top 700 institutions.

Top Universities in South Africa

2015 2014 University Score
171 141 University of Cape Town 57.8
302 390 Stellenbosch University 42.3
331 318 University of Witwatersrand 39.7
501-550 501-550 Rhodes University
501-550 471-480 University of Pretoria
501-550 601-650 University of Kwa-Zulu Natal
601-650 601-650 University of Johannesburg
701+ North-West University
701+ University of the Western Cape

The reason for Stellenbosch University’s big climb has been credited to research output and impact measured – not only in terms of the number of papers but also citations.

The QSWUR is based on a mix of survey responses and hard data across six indicators, compiled and weighted to formulate a final score.

The ranking’s biggest indicator, accounting for 40% of the total score, is based on academic reputation.

Academic reputation is measured using a global survey, in which academics were asked to identify the institutions where they believe the best work is currently taking place within their field of expertise.

The indicators and scores are:

  • Academic reputation (40%)
  • Employer reputation (10%)
  • Student-to-faculty ratio (20%)
  • Citations per faculty (20%)
  • International faculty ratio (5%)
  • International student ratio (5%)

The group also lists the top universities by subject – read: Best subjects to study at SA universities

University rankings

Other global rankings, such as the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), single out citations and research done in the sciences as a headline indicator.

The Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) places emphasis on university alumni and faculty members which have won international awards, and who currently hold top executive jobs.

The Times Higher Education (THE) ranking is the only global published listing of universities that gives equal sway to teaching, research and citations – downplaying reputation and alumni industry activity.

The Best Global Universities (BGU) ranking by usnews.com is based on data and metrics provided by Thomson Reuters InCites research analytics, and places a large focus on an institute’s research and published papers as well as cited works.

The THE rankings are expected to be released in September, with the BGU rankings following in October.

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New university rankings for South Africa