South Africa’s 12 best universities

The latest Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) university ranking for the BRICS region has been published, showing which South African universities have made it into the list of the top 250 institutions.

The BRICS ranking is compiled using eight different indicators, including the ratio of faculty to students, the proportion of academic staff with a PhD and the institution’s reputation among academics and employers.

The 2018 ranking is again dominated at the top with Chinese universities. Seven of the top 10 universities are Chinese, with Tsinghua University retaining its number one spot from last year. It’s closely followed by Peking University in second and Fudan University in third, both of which are non-movers.

Only 12 universities were ranked from South Africa, one of which did not place within the top 250.

The highest-ranked South African university is the University of Cape Town, which placed 19th, overall. UCT was the only South African institute in the top 25, with Wits following in second place ranked 36th.

The University of Pretoria was third in SA, ranked 38th overall, followed by Stellenbosch University (tied in 47th), the University of Johannesburg (58th), UKZN (80th), Rhodes University (tied for 138th), and the University of the Western Cape (146th) all within the top 150.

University of the Free State ranked between 161st and 170th, North-West University placed between 181st and 190th, Nelson Mandela University came between 191st and 200th, and the University of Fort Hare placed outside the top 250.

SA Rank Global University
1 19 University of Cape Town
2 36 University of the Witwatersrand
3 38 University of Pretoria
4 47 Stellenbosch University
5 58 University of Johannesburg
6 80 University of KwaZulu Natal
7 138 Rhodes University
8 146 University of the Western Cape
9 161-170 University of the Free State
10 181-190 North West University
11 191-200 Nelson Mandela (Metropolitan) University
12 251-300 University of Fort Hare

The project, developed by QS in collaboration with Russian news agency Interfax, emerged from a desire to better highlight and track progress made by each of the five BRICS countries in the higher education field, and to facilitate comparison of universities in nations that share certain key socio-economic dynamics.

Of the eight indicators used to determine the rankings, some are the same as those used to create the overall QS World University Rankings, while others are included to reflect priorities and challenges that are more specific to universities in the BRICS countries, such as recruiting more highly qualified academic staff, the group said.

The indicators and weightings are as follows:

  • Academic reputation – 30%
  • Employer reputation – 20%
  • Faculty/Student ratio – 20%
  • Staff with PhD – 10%
  • Papers per faculty – 10%
  • Citations per paper – 5%
  • Internal faculty – 2.5%
  • International students – 2.5%

Read: University ranking index: 2017’s best performing South African university

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South Africa’s 12 best universities