What the rest of the world thinks about South Africa’s universities

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2016-2017 shows South African universities tumbling down the list amid riots and violence over funding.

The latest ranking comes amid a national debates on how to finance public higher education in South Africa, and follows a fee freeze in 2016.

Several universities around the country suspended activities after Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande on Monday announced the universities could increase fees up to a maximum of 8%.

Students are demanding free education at tertiary level, and have taken to the streets and campuses in protest.

While the University of Cape Town is once again South Africa’s top ranked tertiary institution in the latest ranking, it has dropped 28 places. Second placed University of the Witwatersrand is the only local institution to improve on its previous ranking.

South Africa has eight universities represented in the extended list of 980 institutions, having had six in the previous ranking.

Top South African universities

2016 Rank 2015 Rank 2014 Rank University
148 120 124 University of Cape Town
182 201-250 251-275 University of the Witwatersrand
401-500 301-350 276-300 Stellenbosch University
501-600 401-500 University of Kwa-Zulu Natal
601-800 University of Johannesburg
601-800 501-600 University of Pretoria
601-800 University of the Western Cape
801+ 601-800 University of South Africa

Read: South African universities struggle in global ranking as fee debate begins to bite

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings claims to be the only global university performance tables to judge world class universities across all of their core missions – teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook.

The rankings have the most evenly weighted spread across teaching, research and citiations, which all count for 30% of the total score.

The 13 performance indicators are grouped into five areas:

university-methodologyThe Times Higher rankings comes on the heels of the 2016 QS World University Rankings, whick also showed that the country’s universities have dropped down the global list due to ongoing funding concerns.

The QS list showed that top ranked UCT dropped as many as 20 places to 191st worldwide, while second place Wits dropped 28 places to 359th.

Stellenbosch University, however, has climbed back into the top 400 – to 395th place‚ from the 401-410 band in 2015.

The University of Pretoria, Rhodes University, and University of KwaZulu-Natal all dropped down the rankings, while the University of Johannesburg was stable from the prior year’s ranking.

Relative newcomers to the list – which has been expanded to include 916 universities (800 in 2015) – North West University and the University of the Western Cape both ranked outside the top 700 institutions.

Ben Sowter, head of research at QS, said that South Africa’s performance mimicked the global trend which stressed the importance of prolonged investment. He said that South African universities struggled due to funding shortfalls.

Seven of the nine SA universities measured by QS dropped in the rankings on academic reputation‚ and employer reputation.

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What the rest of the world thinks about South Africa’s universities