These 6 South African universities are ranked among the top 500 in the world

US News & World Report has published its 2022 Best Global Universities rankings, which includes a list of the top 13 tertiary learning institutions in South Africa – six of which are ranked among the top 500 in the world.

The overall ranking encompasses 1,750 top institutions, up from nearly 1,500 last year, and spread across more than 90 countries, up from 86 last year.

The rankings put a particular focus on the research output of universities, as well as the reputations tied to that research, both locally and globally.

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.

The 13 indicators the group looks at (and their weightings) are:

  • Global research reputation – 12.5%
  • Regional research reputation – 12.5%
  • Number of publications that are among the 10% most cited – 12.5%
  • Percentage of total publications that are among the 10% most cited – 10%
  • Publications – 10%
  • Normalised citation impact – 10%
  • Total citations – 7.5%
  • International collaboration – 5%
  • Percentage of total publications with international collaboration – 5%
  • Number of highly cited papers that are among the top 1% most cited in their respective field – 5%
  • Percentage of total publications that are among the top 1% most highly cited papers – 5%
  • Books – 2.5%
  • Conferences – 2.5%

The top 10 schools in the overall Best Global Universities ranking are similar to last year’s edition, with Harvard University in Massachusetts again topping the list, followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University in California.

The only change in the global top 10 was the California Institute of Technology dropping to the ninth position, pushing the University of Washington and University of Cambridge up one spot each.

The most ranked schools are in the following countries:

  • US: 271
  • China: 253
  • Japan: 93
  • UK: 89
  • Germany: 70

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 Columbia University
7 United States University of Washington
8 United Kingdom University of Cambridge
9 United States California Institute of Technology
10 United States Johns Hopkins University

South African universities

South Africa’s universities mostly climbed the global rankings in 2021/22, with 13 institutes remaining within the top 1,500. Nine universities saw their global position improve, while four dropped down the ranking.

The University of Cape Town remains the top university locally, and in Africa however, it dropped from its highest point on the listing at 103rd, to 109th.

UCT is followed by the University of Witwatersrand, which placed 212th, also down from 192nd last year.

The other universities which dropped down the rankings include the University of KwaZulu Natal and the University of Johannesburg, which slid to 371st and 417th, respectively.

All other listed universities saw an improvement, with Stellenbosch University up from 321st in 2020/21 to 317th. The University of the Western Cape remained unchanged in 729th position.

Notably, Tshwane University of Technology improved its position on the ranking to now fall within the top 1,000.

Of the 13 universities ranked in South Africa, six ranked within the global top 500 – these are:

  • University of Cape Town
  • University of Witwatersrand
  • Stellenbosch University
  • University of Kwa-Zulu Natal
  • University of Johannesburg
  • University of Pretoria

This is how South Africa’s universities ranked.

Top Universities in South Africa:

SA # Global # University
1 109 University of Cape Town
2 212 University of Witwatersrand
3 317 Stellenbosch University
4 371 University of Kwa-Zulu Natal
5 417 University of Johannesburg
6 434 University of Pretoria
7 510 North-West University
8 729 University of the Western Cape
9 851 University of South Africa
10 855 Rhodes University
11 925 University of the Free State
12 954 Tshwane University of Technology
13 1225 Nelson Mandela University

Read: 11 universities in South Africa ranked among the best in emerging economies

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These 6 South African universities are ranked among the top 500 in the world