Ranking the 12 best universities in South Africa

US News & World Report has released its 2019 Best Global Universities rankings – which includes a list of the top 12 tertiary learning institutions in South Africa.

The overall rankings evaluate 1,250 universities across 75 countries and are the largest and most comprehensive assessment of research universities worldwide, it says.

Universities in the US and the UK remained at the top of the rankings, with the top four schools in the US – led by Harvard University, followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University. The University of California–Berkeley takes the fourth spot, and the United Kingdom’s University of Oxford finishes out the top five.

With 227 schools ranked, the US has the most institutions on the overall list of 1,250 schools, followed by the following countries:

  • China: 130
  • UK: 78
  • Japan: 67
  • Germany: 62

Top 10 Universities in the world:

# Country University
1 United States Harvard University
2 United States Massachusetts Institute of Technology
3 United States Stanford University
4 United States University of California—Berkeley
5 United Kingdom University of Oxford
6 United States California Institute of Technology
7 United Kingdom University of Cambridge
8 United States Columbia University
9 United States Princeton University
10 United States University of Washington

For South Africa, the University of Cape Town remains the top university locally, and in Africa, sitting just outside the top 100, followed by the University of Witwatersrand, which placed 197th overall.

All of the locally placed universities improved their positions in 2018, except for UCT (losing a single place) and the University of KwaZulu Natal, which was unmoved.

The University of Johannesburg moved up one position, overtaking the University of Pretoria – while Nelson Mandela Bay University joined the rankings at 1,112th position.

This is how South Africa’s universities ranked.

Top Universities in South Africa:

SA # Global # University
1 114 University of Cape Town
2 197= University of Witwatersrand
3 336= University of Kwa-Zulu Natal
4 341= Stellenbosch University
5 397= University of Johannesburg
6 427= University of Pretoria
7 708= North-West University
8 720= University of the Western Cape
9 886= Rhodes University
10 946= University of South Africa
11 961= University of the Free State
12 1112= Nelson Mandela University

US News’ rankings put a focus on international collaboration at universities by rewarding schools that author articles with researchers from different countries.

The Best Global Universities methodology – which is based on Web of Science data and metrics provided by Clarivate Analytics InCites – weighs factors that measure a university’s global and regional research reputation and academic research performance.

For the overall rankings, this includes bibliometric indicators such as publications, citations and international collaboration. Each subject ranking has its own methodology based on academic research performance and reputation in that specific area.


Read: The best universities in South Africa to study business and law

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Ranking the 12 best universities in South Africa