The 18 best universities in South Africa according to academic performance

A new ranking by the Informatics Institute at the Middle East Technical University, in Turkey, lists the 18 top universities in South Africa.

The  University Ranking by Academic Performance (URAP) for 2019 differs from other widely published rankings by not precluding the lower-end of institutions, particularly in developing nations.

With 18 South African universities making the list for the 2018/19 review period, it is the most comprehensive look at South Africa’s higher education institutes (HEIs).

The URAP is a research-only ranking using indicators that measure the quality, quantity and impact of publications, as well as international collaboration.

The overall score of each HEI is based on its performance over several indicators, including current scientific productivity, research impact, research quality and international acceptance.

Data is gathered from Web of Science and other sources which provide lists of HEIs, the group said.

In the 2018/19 ranking, South Africa’s top universities – the University of Cape Town and Wits – both dropped down the global rankings, though UCT remains in the top 250 universities in the world.

Among South Africa’s 18 ranked universities, the position remains virtually unchanged from 2017/18’s list, with the exception of the University of the Free State, which climbed 90 places to rank ahead of Rhodes University and Unisa.

Unisa, meanwhile, showed a massive drop on the overall rankings, falling over 230 places – though it only dropped on place on the South African list due to UFS’ rise.

2018/19 2017/18 University Score
241 229 University of Cape Town 384.22
321 317 University of the Witwatersrand 358.00
349 349 University of KwaZulu Natal 350.33
415 421 Stellenbosch University 328.39
474 459 University of Pretoria 313.44
627 655 University of Johannesburg 276.58
745 808 North West University 252.88
885 919 University of the Western Cape 227.30
1021 997 Rhodes University 208.87
1004 1094 University of the Free State 206.17
1287 1051 University of South Africa (Unisa) 174.96
1414 1402 Nelson Mandela University 160.51
1469 1587 Tshwane University of Technology 154.22
1705 2069 Durban University of Technology 129.69
2034 2073 University of Limpopo 98.41
2040 2100 Cape Peninsula University of Technology 98.18
2212 2273 University of Fort Hare 81.33
2374 2446 University of Venda 66.96

Read: Ranking the 12 best universities in South Africa

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The 18 best universities in South Africa according to academic performance